The Gates: The Birth - Day 6

February 12, 2005

RD unfurlsThis was the really emotional day for me. Not emotional in a bad sense, not at all, more a day of joy and satisfaction, and joy and satisfaction on a scale to which I am not accustomed. The morning began as all the others, just before dawn in the Boat House, with coffee and scones, announcements from Vince Davenport, the project engineer (a brilliant man, by the way), then our crew rode the bus out to our assigned area: Zone 5, Area 1. We waited for the materials, which consisted of a painter's extension rod, some trash bags, and a roll of duct tape. Then we answered the question on everyone's lips who was walking through the Park "When does it start?"

The answer was "8:30 or 9:00." The other question concerned where the unfurling starts, the answer to that was "everywhere at once."

Mitch unfurlsAt about 9 AM our crew captain started with the Gate at the corner of 86th and Central Park West and the project began to bloom. The unfurling process was fairly simple. The curtain was rolled up around a cardboard tube and enclosed in a vinyl "cocoon" which was also wrapped around the crossbar, the horizontal piece of each gate. Unfurling the curtain simply involved hooking a tab on one end of the cocoon and pulling it across, like opening a Fed Ex envelope. Once the tab was pulled all the way across, the curtain unfurled, the tube dropped to the ground and the open cocoon fluttered to the ground, all under their own weight. We scooped the tube and the open cocoon up and disposed of them immediately.

RD unfurls A couple of Gates suffered from a minor wardrobe malfunction, the cocoons for those just had to be ripped open, but that wasn't difficult, they were all very minor glitches. A few other times we lost control of the tab and it had to be re-hooked in mid-pull, this wasn't all that easy, the tabs fluttered unpredictably in the wind, but again, the delay just added to the suspense, it was all in good fun.

Our area finished the unfurling early, we moved along doing this as efficiently as we did everything else during the installation. I immediately took the adjustment pole, which was the same as the unfurling pole except that the hook on the end was replaced with a tennis ball. This instrument is used to adjust curtains that get wrapped around the horizontal crossbar by the wind. I began walking around with the pole, adjusting curtains, answering questions, handing out fabric swatches, and just taking in this fabulous work of Art. This was the emotional part.

Claudia unfurlsVisitors to the Park who were wandering through our section broke out into huge smiles and thanked me, as a uniformed Gates worker, profusely at every turn. Everyone was smiling, including myself, and for a moment there was the sea of joyful, happy people walking through this magical place, bathed in the golden light created by the sunlight filtering through these curtains. I think it was this day, via this experience, that I really, for the first time felt like a real part of this City--no longer a resident, no longer a person from somewhere else in the process of integrating here, but a member of the clan, a New Yorker, part of the experience, someone who really is not just IN the City, but who is also OF the City. I am a part of the magic here. I am a New Yorker, recognized as such by my fellow New Yorkers, appreciated and valued for what I bring.

August unfurlsThat was very emotional. I love New York like I have never loved any other place. I have been forever changed by living here, and now I feel as though I have been a part of something that changed New York City.

As I have said all along, if you can get here, come before the end of February. There's magic in the Park.