East River Floodgates Rising in NYC

A tour of new infrastructure designed to protect the city’s East Side from catastrophic flooding.

1 minute read

November 6, 2023, 6:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Sunset view of Williamsburg Bridge from East River Park walkway next to river with one jogger.

Adrian / Adobe Stock

In an article for Curbed, Christopher Bonanos tours the waterfront on Manhattan’s East Side with Rohit Aggarwala, commissioner of the city’s Department of Environmental Protection and chief climate officer to better understand the flood defense mechanisms the city is installing.

The area was hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy, when water reached three blocks inland, destroying cars and basements. Now, the city is elevating East River Park and building a series of dikes and gates along the coastline north of the park. Bonanos points out that while the barriers are built to withstand storm surges, “They won’t be able to do anything about the immensely heavy rainstorms we’re now getting, including Ophelia, the storm we just had in late September.”

Aggarwala acknowledges that “The gates may be good for a century, but that figure depends somewhat on how many storms we get.” And while the designs may get backlash, “we’re going to lose something — whether it’s views, or a shorter walk to the water, or simply the ability to pretend we’re not up against the sea — because the world of the 22nd century is not going to look like ours.”

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