MAY 22, 2023
Cedar Grove revisited
In the Summer of 2010 I was on assignment to cover the final days of the Cedar Grove Beach Club, a collection of 41 historic beach bungalows largely built between 1920 and 1940 in New Dorp neighborhood of Staten Island. The community was established around 1907 as one of many beach campgrounds during the heyday of Staten Island's shore.
Cedar Grove was condemned and acquired by the city in 1958 when Robert Moses, the city's master planner, proposed a shore parkway running along the borough's coastline. The parkway failed to materialize, so the city agreed to lease the land to the bungalow owners with the understanding it could take it back whenever it wanted. The City of New York took control of the property and evicted the bungalow owners. Hurricane Sandy destroyed whatever was left of the historic community on October 29, 2012.
Thirteen years later I was commissioned by the Staten Island Museum to photograph Cedar Grove beach again to accompany my 2010 series of photographs for their latest exhibition Vulnerable Landscapes.
Vulnerable Landscapes depicts an island at risk in the heart of the Nation’s largest city. This interdisciplinary exhibition centers the shorelines at the forefront of climate change in one of New York City’s most vulnerable landscapes: Staten Island. The borough faces particular challenges due to its geography and history, with industry and community concentrated where water meets ground.
This exhibition examines the shared space between the built and natural environment and highlights local individuals advocating for climate justice and a deeper connection to where we live. Themes of resistance, access, change, and recovery are conveyed through new works of contemporary art, scientific endeavors aimed at resiliency efforts, and art and archival materials from the museum’s collection. Vulnerable Landscapes circumnavigates Staten Island illuminating the past to shed light on the future.