Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Tour of Governors Island

A Quick History of the Governors Island

The 172-acre island is just a few hundred yards away from the Financial District of Manhattan, in the middle of New York Harbor. The island is part of Manhattan as it shares the same zip code as the Battery (10004).

The island originally served a Dutch trading post in the 1600's and was home to a mill and just a few settlers homes. In 1800 it was sold to the government for $1. Just six years earlier in 1794, it began its transformation into New York's commanding headquarters and military post for the United State Army. During the war of 1812, it played an important role in protecting New York City from naval attacks from the British. It also played as an integral part in a larger coastal defense network during other wars such as the Civil War, World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. It was occupied by the U.S. army until 1966 when it was handed over to the U.S. Coast Guard. Civilians were not allowed to live on the island, only stationed army or coast guard personnel and their families could live on the island.

The Coast Guard left in 1997 and until 2003 Governors Island lay entirely abandoned and dormant, eerily similar to a ghost town. Though, in 2003 the island was returned to the city by the government and designated a historical monument, the National Park Service has been hosting tours of the island to visitors since then. We'll start our tour at the historical northern part of the island.

Soissons Dock, Governors Island Ferry Dock

Ferry is the only way to get to and from the island. The ferry leaves from the Battery Marine Terminal, next to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. Currently the only people who live on the island are the ferry operators who rotate one-week shifts staying on the island. The structures in the photo below on the left are buildings used by the New York/National Park Service which owns the island and the building to the right serves as a gift shop and security office.

Fort Jay Gate

The sandstone gate to Fort Jay is one of Governor Island’s most recognizable landmarks. The sculpture on top of the gate was constructed as a replica of the War Department seal.

Fort Jay

The fort was originally built in 1764 and completed in 1798. George Washington declared Fort Jay "to be the strongest fort in the American colonies" at the start of the American Revolution. It was put on the map when Americans defended the city against the British in the War of 1812. The barracks of Fort Jay date back to 1811 and were used up until 1997 when the Coast Guard left the island. Since the fort was strategically built on the highest point on the island canons can still be found around the Fort guarding New York Bay.

Next up on the tour is the area of Governors Island known as Colonel's Row. The tree-lined streets resemble a quaint New England town. It's easy to see why army officer's picked this area of the island to build housing during the Civil War. Most of the officer’s houses are painted yellow.

Colonel's Row

The Admirals Mansion and Governors Quarters shows reflects the grand architecure of the original officer's housing.

Admirals Mansion with Governors Quarters

Canons placed in front of the Admirals Mansion

Chapel of Saint Cornelius the Centurion

The chapel is one of three houses of worship on the island and is owned by Trinity Church.

Castle Williams

Castle Williams, which was completed in 1811, is the twin to Castle Clinton in Battery Park. The castle was used as a jail until 1966. Captured confederate soldiers and even Walt Disney during World War II were imprisoned here.

Glass was installed in the 70's to protect the inside of the building from the elements.

Back of Castle Williams.

A tour group lead by a park ranger.

Liggett Hall

Constructed in the 1920's, Liggett Hall is of the fringe of the historical area of Governors Island and served as the main barracks for the army. Interestingly enough, the main reason it was built was to prevent an airport from being constructed on the island.

Public School 26

P.S. 26 is the island's only school. It was built as an elementary school for children of army families.

Moving into the southern part of the island (which was mainly built up in the 1950's-1970's) we come across a strange sight.

Manhattan's one and only golf course.

That's right. A golf course in the borough of Manhattan right here on Governors Island. The real golf course isn't as pristine as its SimCity counterpart due to falling into disrepair for five years but there are talks of repairing it for future use.

Finally we arrive at the residential area where families of army and coast guard personnel lived. The area has many different types of structures that were constructed from the 50's to the late 70's from a Super 8 Motel, to a theater, to a yoga center, to even a Burger King. Some New Yorker's have fond memories growing up on the island as it similar to having a small New England town right in the middle of New York.

None of these buildings are in operation anymore but the city is deciding what to do with all the structures on this portion of the island. Development on the historical northern portion isn't allowed as it was designated a national historical monument but proposals for the southern part include a casino, an oceanographic center, or a reusing the structures for commercial and residential use. There's even speculation of using the some of the historical buildings on the northern side as a military college. For now the National Park service will continue to give tours of the island to visitors until something is decided upon by the city.

To learn more about Governors Island and see the real world sights on the Island go to Governors Island History and Tour Photos, the National Park Services Governors Island page or Tolerance Park.

That's all for now. Next time we'll venture up to Roosevelt Island, Manhattan's other "unknown" island.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

New York City in SimCity: A History of Heritage

New York has made many appearances in SimCity and just by the nature and layout of the city, it's one of the cities of choice to recreate for the game. It is a dream for many players to have an accurate recreation of New York in the game. Today we’ll crank up the wayback machine and take a look at the history of the Big Apple in SimCity.

Our trip down memory lane begins in 1998, the year I stumbled upon the game which would change the way I thought of computer games; SimCity 2000. New York in SimCity all started with the Urban Renewal Kit and a skilled SCURKer. In 1995, SCURKer Joel Garcia began work on the first New York Tileset. Two years later the New York tileset was re-released after being refined by Steve McGlenn, Justin Smith, Charles Warren and other talented contributors to the SCURK community.

This was and still is the most complete tileset of buildings in Manhattan for the game. When I came across a few of the buildings within this tileset at the SCURK Hall of Fame a spark of digital inspiration set off inside me; I searched the internet for the complete tileset and downloaded it taking my first bite out of the Big Apple.

I didn’t know it yet but SimCity 3000 was just around the corner and unfortunately I didn’t get very far into my recreation when I found out SimCity 3000 was available for purchase. SC2000 is still on my old computer and I even work on my first recreation of New York City from time to time.

Enter SC3000. New York made an appearance in many people’s games due to the availability of many famous landmarks such as the United Nations Building, the Statue of Liberty, the Chrysler Building and many others which shipped with the game. The custom content community naturally took to BAP and soon New Yorks most recognizable buildings (which didn’t come with the game) were available on the official exchange.

With the growing audience of SimCity players many began creating the Big Apple in their games, SC3000 players may remember a user by the name of mthq showcase his recreation of New York at his website the New York Miracle. I restarted my efforts to recreate New York in SimCity and this time I got about 3/4th of the way through Manhattan by the time SimCity 4 was released.
Bryant Park and the New York Public Library.

The United Nations Building and Tudor City

Times Square, the center of the universe.

Lady Liberty

Ellis Island

Macy's Department Store

Madison Squre Garden, home of the New York Knicks. (Madison Square Garden has come a long way since the days of SimCity 3000.)

The Empire State Building, SimCity 3000 style.

The San Remo Apartment Building on Central Park West

Museum of Natural History

Now we’re in the fourth era of SimCity and the dynamics of series have evolved to a point where we can nearly create an entirely new game. The Sim Apple has been evolving since the old SimCity 2000 days and now it’s back for the third time, bigger and better than ever.

Power Finally Back On In Queens

Power has finally been restored in Northwestern Queens for residents who were without power for ten days. An estimated 100,000 people were without power during the blackout, although things are not completely fixed. Hours before power was restored early this morning, two manholes exploded in Sunnyside at 43rd Avenue and 44th Street.

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the outage Tommarow morning at City Hall.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

New York Neighborhoods and Points of Interest

Map of points of interest and landmarks around the New York region.

A map of completed neighborhoods.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Museum Mile

Fifth Avenue between 79th and 110th Streets on the Upper East Side is often referred to as Museum Mile. The avenue is giving this title due to the many museum which line this stretch including the world renown Museum of Metropolitan Art, the Guggenheim Museum, Jewish Museum, Cooper Hewitt Museum, Museum of the City of New York, and El Museo de Barrio.

The image shows the corner of 89th and Fifth Avenue with a tip of the Guggenheim Museum just barley visible in the corner of the shot and a portion of Central Park along the right side.

More to come soon.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

LaGuardia Airport Experiences Power Outage

Due to the extreme heat LaGuardia Airport experienced a power outage yesterday night and power problems are still persisting into today. From NY1,

"Some flights had to be canceled at LaGuardia Airport Tuesday and others delayed due to a power outage in Terminal A and parts of Central Terminal B in what appears to be a continuation of Monday's troubles.

The outage is affecting passengers traveling on Delta and American Airlines. Passengers are advised to call ahead if headed to the airport.

American Airlines says it is offering limited service in and out of LaGuardia. No Delta shuttle flights are departing, but they are arriving."

More from NY1 on the story.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Summer Swelters the City

Residents are looking for ways to beat the heat as sizzling temperatures continue today with highs reaching 95 degrees. Temperatures this high can prove to be dangerous for the elderly and individuals with breathing conditions.

Because of this officials have issued a heat advisory for the city, most of Long Island and southern Connecticut, and an excessive heat warning for parts of northern New Jersey. Cooling centers are open and available for residents without air conditioning. Residents without air conditioning can try to remain cool indoors, by staying hydrated, avoiding alcohol and caffeine. Other New Yorker's are spending time at the beach or swimming pools.

Call 311 or log on to the Office of Emergency Management's Web site - - to get the addresses of local places to cool off.

8th Avenue and 33rd Street

The image above shows the busy intersection of 8th Avenue and 33rd Street with the home of the New York Knicks in the background, Madison Square Garden. SimCity players can download The Garden at the Simtropolis Exchange.

Doctor In Upper East Side Townhouse Explosion Dies


The doctor suspected of blowing up his Upper East Side home last Monday has died.

Doctor Nicholas Bartha died Saturday from injuries suffered in the blast. The 66-year-old had been in a medically-induced coma since the explosion.

More on the story from NY1.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Wild Weather Rips Through Tri-State Area

Trees were uprooted all over Westchester, power lines are down and even some vehicles were overturned. There is even speculation that the violent system which blew through the area produced a tornado in Hawthorne. The National Weather Service will release their findings tomorrow and explain what caused so much damage in Central Westchester.

The storm came during the evening commute and caused traffic problems all over, some streets in New Jersey were impassable due to serious flooding.

Portions of the Saw Mill River Parkway and Harlem line of the Metro-North had to be closed due to downed trees.

More on the story from WCBS and New York Newsday

Investigators Probe Building Explosion As Suicide Attempt

The explosion that leveled a townhouse on East 62nd Street, rocked and shocked the Upper East Side Monday is now being investigated as an apparent suicide attempt by building owner by Doctor Nicholas Bartha.

Investigators searching through the rubble found a hose connected to tampered gas lines. From,

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says the home's gas meter was inspected a month before the blast and it appears to have been tampered with since then.

Investigators searching the rubble say that when they came across the meter, they discovered a black hose that stretched from a gas valve at the rear of the building. Left open, it allowed gas to flow freely into the house right before the explosion.

More on the story from

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

New York City Journal Launches!

Welcome to the New York City Journal blog! Your source for news and updates about my project of creating a 3D replica of the Big Apple. This recreation goes beyond a static 3D model, this replica actually comes to life in Maxis/Electronic Arts simulation and city-building computer game, SimCity 4. It will include many true to life details of New York all the way down to street level.

The project has been in the works for more than three years and is dedicated to replicating the five boroughs in SimCity. The blog will have features chronicling real news within the city, tourist information/guides, and much more.

Stay tuned for more.