Artist to build four giant waterfalls in New York

NEW YORK | Four giant waterfalls will be erected in New York for three months this summer in a public art project city officials hope will create $55 million in extra tourism revenue for the Big Apple.

The waterfalls, including one that will fall from the famed Brooklyn Bridge, are the brainchild of Danish artist Olafur Eliasson. Installation will cost $15 million, funded by private donations to New York’s Public Art Fund.

“It’s about seeing water in a different way,” Eliasson told a news conference on Wednesday, unveiling plans for the waterfalls, which will range in height from 90 to 120 feet — around the same as the Statue of Liberty from head to toe.

Three of the waterfalls will cascade into the East River and New York Harbor from free-standing scaffolding towers that Eliasson said were part of his artistic vision, mirroring the scaffolding towers that sprout up throughout New York. The falls will be in place from mid-July to mid-October.

City officials are hoping to emulate the success of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s project, “The Gates,” which drew around 1.5 million visitors to the city in February 2005 to view about7,500 saffron panels draped through Central Park.

Increased hotel, restaurant and other business revenues linked to the waterfalls should bring an additional $55 million to the city’s economy, Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris said.

The Circle Line boat company will offer free and discounted trips to give visitors a closer look at the waterfalls.

But Eliasson said Circle Line boats would not be able to get as close to the water as tourist boats do to New York state’s most famous waterfall, Niagara Falls, on the Canadian border.

“It’s quite a lot of water, it would not be good to go under,” Eliasson said. The scaffolding will have a floating barrier at the bottom to stop small boats going underneath and a “shark cage” under the water to stop fish being sucked into the pumps that will take the water to the top.

The pumps will be powered by renewable energy sources and the falls will be lit only by low-level lighting at night that Eliasson said would be “not Las Vegas-style.”

Eliasson, who was born in Copenhagen in 1967, is best known for his 2003 installation “The Weather Project” at the Tate Modern in London, a giant sun made of mirrors, lamps and mist that drew over 2 million viewers.

Link to Reuters.