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The South Williamsburg stop of the NYC Ferry system on South 10th Street near Kent Avenue reopened on July 27 after a prolonged period of repairs. The reopening restored service to the North Brooklyn area after a summer of limited ferry access.
The NYC Ferry service is operated by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) rather than the MTA, and has been in operation since 2017.
The expansive transportation system spans 60 nautical miles and stops at 21 landing sites. However, three of the landing sites in Brooklyn – South Williamsburg, DUMBO and now Greenpoint – were closed periodically throughout the summer.
The South Williamsburg stop was closed for scheduled renovations that will now allow two ferries to dock at any given time instead of just one. Additionally, the landing received a replacement barge and a wheelchair-accessible entrance ramp.
“We appreciate the patience of our riders as we upgraded the South Williamsburg landing to ensure it is safe, accessible, and sufficient for service,” a spokesperson from NYCEDC told this paper. “We are excited that service resumed on the East River route.”
The DUMBO ferry landing at the base of Old Fulton Street was also closed for repairs, but reopened multiple weeks ago.
The India Street ferry stop in Greenpoint, however, was closed without warning on May 23 because of an unexpected mechanical issue. The landing is still closed, and the MTA has since set up a free shuttle bus between Greenpoint and Hunters Point South.
The bus route roughly mimics that of the ferry and runs every 40 minutes in both directions.
Unlike the South Williamsburg and DUMBO landings, the Greenpoint landing is owned by a private real estate company rather than the city.
“At this time, the Greenpoint landing remains out of service in both directions,” the spokesperson added. “[Owner] Lendlease is currently performing an examination of the pier’s infrastructure and we anticipate they will share a timeline for repairs. As always, safety remains NYC Ferry’s top priority.”
“We expect to have a clearer picture of the extent of the needed repairs, and a timeline for restoring ferry service, next week,” a spokesperson from Lendlease added. “We are dedicated to restoring the ferry as quickly and safely as possible.”
Catalina Kulczar has always made sense of life’s difficulties through the visual arts.
Born to Hungarian parents in Venezuela, Kulczar moved from Caracas to South Florida and then finally to North Carolina, where she went to school and began working as a photographer.
“I started documenting everything as we travelled,” Kulczar explained during a phone interview this past week.
While in Charlotte, Kulczar met her life partner Juan Miguel Marin, a musician and member of the Brooklyn-based band LEGS, and the two decided to move to New York to pursue their passions. They eventually settled in Greenpoint, a neighborhood that felt like a natural fit for the aspiring artists.
“Greenpoint used to be warehouses and graffiti everywhere and I loved it,” said Kulczar. “It was one big art gallery.”
However, the area has changed greatly since Kulczar arrived, as the warehouses gave way to new development and the artist community slowly moved elsewhere. Then last year the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, dramatically altering life for Greenpoint and its artists once more.
“Everything had to pivot with the pandemic, including the art,” Kulczar explained.
To make sense of COVID, Kulczar turned, as she always does, to the visual arts. This past March, she released a short film titled “When We Paused” on Vimeo. The project documents the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in Greenpoint and was shot using 16 mm film to highlight the timeless quality of the neighborhood’s landscape.
“I started the project with film so it would feel natural,” said Kulczar. “Digital can’t compare with how analog film feels, and I wanted this project to show how I felt and how the community felt.”
Kulczar recorded the footage for the film during a series of walks last April. Throughout its entire runtime, only three other people are shown on screen, a far cry from the usual vibrancy of Greenpoint.
“I remember seeing no one,” said Kulczar. “You could hear the silence. I remember only hearing the birds.”
Despite the empty streets, “When We Paused” shifts in its second half to focus on the Black Lives Matter movement and the social action that came to Greenpoint in the wake of George Floyd’s death last May.
Kulczar’s camera captures BLM murals as they seamlessly integrate with the timeworn Greenpoint landscape, a stunning visual of resiliency and compassion that inspired the artist.
“The art in Greenpoint became political, which I absolutely loved,” said Kulczar. “People really started taking action. Just look at the McCarren Gathering. They are the perfect example because they still haven’t stopped.”
“When We Paused” was released this past March as a retrospective on the one-year anniversary of the pandemic. However, more time has passed since the film’s release, bringing with it even more change.
Vaccines are now readily available and New York City is slowly opening up, bringing hope after such a difficult year.
“It’s remarkable to believe that I lived through that,” said Kulczar, “A few days ago New York had no new COVID deaths for the first time since the pandemic began. We have come a long way.”
However, the sobering memory of all those lost in the past year remains. Kulczar is currently working on another film about the pandemic, a personal documentary that will detail her own experiences.
As more time passes though, “When We Paused” will continue to bear witness to Greenpoint as it was during the pandemic and to how resilient the neighborhood and its people have always been.
“It was a time capsule,” Kulczar explained of the film. “It was my love letter to Greenpoint. We lost a lot during the pandemic, but we still had so much.”
To see more of Kulczar’s work, go to catalinakulczar.com or to Instagram @catalinaphotog.