Above is how original photo of Rikers Island seawall must have looked before a New York Tribune page layout editor had a chunk of sky cut from it in order to insert into its upper left corner part of the boxed subhead seen in the image that is to the right of this image. Click above image to access the original full page in Library of Congress collection. Use browser's "back" button to return.
Above is an arrangement of elements -- nameplate, date data line, banner head, boxed subhead -- from a Library of Congress digital copy of the top story on Page 3 of the features section of the Sunday May 5, 1907 issue of the New York Tribune. The image was deconstructed, resized and then reassembled to form the above more manageable and readable rectangle for this web page's format. Click to access the original full-size story. About 3 Mbs, 16" wide, 9.5" deep, If automatically shrunk to fit screen, enlarge. Then use browser's "back" button to return.
|NOTE: This newspaper article (text below) from more than a century ago contains fascinating details about Rikers Island's early landfill operations, long before its current 400+ acres total was achieved. However, due to awkward phrasing in the article's second paragraph second sentence, the 1907 newspaper headline writer referred in the boxed subhead (above right) to "Riker's Original 63 Acres." Actually, according to the U.S. Coast Survey, as reported by the New York Times of Sept. 20, 1886, the island comprised 87.3 acres. The awkwardly-phrased Tribune sentence referred to the then current extension work as aimed at raising the island's total acres to about 150. The difference between that 150 goal and the original 87.3 was 62.7. So the "63" in the sentence would seem to have been referring to the number of acres being added in the then current extension.|
Those who in the last four years have come to regard the great filling-in work at Riker's Island chiefly as an affront to the olfactory organs will find small comfort in the fact that, provided work now going forward under the Department of Docks and Ferries is completed in season, the Street Cleaning Department will begin work the coming summer on an even greater Riker's Island than was contemplated in the original plans.
To complete this work will require probably about five more years.
Commissioner Craven of the Department of Street Cleaning said the other day that, so far the work of his department was concerned, the starting of the new extension depended entirely upon the progress made by the Department of Docks and Ferries on the new stone crib which is being laid to enclose the new extension. Work on this crib, which is nothing but a great seawall of loose stones, designed to keep within bounds the refuse of which the new extension is to be made, has proceeded well.
The work of the Street Cleaning Department making of the original extension to the island which is now nearing completion has been an interesting one. It is safe to say that of the number of persons who know in a general, and in most cases unfavorable way of the work which has been going forward for four years at Riker's Island only a few have any adequate idea of the mass of material has gone into the making of the addition to the island. Figures in the records of the Street Cleaning Department serve not only to throw light on what has already been done, but also afford an adequate idea of what the work afford an adequate idea of what the work on the new extension will mean.
For instance, the department reports that of ashes and street sweepings, which are declared by the department to be the only material used for filling purposes at island, there has been deposited:
According to A. De Wilde, superintendent of the bureau of final disposition of the Department of Street Cleaning delivering and unloading this material at Riker's Island has been estimated at 23 cents a cubic yard, making the total cost to the city for all material filled in there so far $1,470,217.50.
Some interesting comparisons have been made which serve to give a good idea of the amount of material represented by the department's figures. For instance, the total deposit of 6,392,250 cubic yards 172,590,750 cubic feet. If this were arranged in cubes, each a foot long, a foot wide and a foot high, and these were laid end to end, they would form a line 32,688 miles long. This would girdle the earth at the equator, and of the 7,786 miles remaining, 7,348 miles could be used in a strip laid between New York and Yokohama, by way of San Francisco. Of the 438 miles still remaining, if 431 miles were laid between New York and Pittsburgh, there would yet be a little strip would reach from New York City Hall to Columbia University.
The conveyor is said by the owners and operators, the O'Rourke Engineering Construction Company, to be one of the largest of its kind in the world. It is thirty-six inches wide and about two thousand feet long. Receiving the material as it comes from the scows, after having passed through a big hopper, the belt takes it out over the new-made land of the island to a spot a thousand feet from the point of unloading, and there discharges it into a tripper. Here it passes over a short belt, to be shot high in the air, falling in a great shower over the hollows and depressions of the island.
FILLER SETTLES SOON.
The big conveyor is swung in a semi-circle in a radius of one thousand feet from the point of unloading and is now on its second trip across the island. The average depth of the deposit made by the conveyor on each of these trips across the island is about thirty-six feet. To the uninitiated the idea of depositing material to such a depth, in some places fully thirty feet above the level of the original island, appears absurd, but the men on the work know better. The Rikers' Island filling material is such light, unstable stuff that it settles rapidly.
Superintendent Joseph H. Fuller, in charge of the work being done by the conveyor, says the deposit settles about 30 per cent, and it is to allow for this shrinkage that the fill is made to such a depth.
In the building of the new extension the "crib" or stone wall designed to retain the filling is to be more substantial than that about the extension on which work is now in progress. The old crib was built of timber an then filled in with loose stone. The new crib is built entirely of stone, without the use of timbers.
There is only one hotel on the greater Riker's Island. The Italians employed on the work who lived there call it "Hotel de Bum" and its looks certainly do not belie the name.
Beautiful word pictures of the Riker's Island of the future are painted by officials of the Street Cleaning Department and the contractors,
"But wait a few years," say its builders. "The time will yet come when New York will be justly proud of Riker's Island."
NOTE OF APPRECIATION: We gratefully acknowledge and thank history researcher Jorge Santiago for calling this story to our attention.