February 11, 2005The Temporary Work of Art will be on Display February 12th through 27th, 2005
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and New York artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude announced that the installation of The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979-2005 will be completed on February 12, 2005. The free-flowing saffron-colored fabric panels will be unfurled tomorrow from the 7,500 gates throughout 23 miles of Central Park. The Gates will be on display through Sunday, February 27, 2005. Over 600 workers in teams of eight assembled and elevated the gates from February 7th to 11th. The work of art is expected to draw visitors from around the world and generate millions of dollars in economic activity for the City. Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Department of Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall, NYC & Company President and CEO Cristyne L. Nicholas, President of the Central Park Conservancy Doug Blonsky, Chief Engineer and Director of Construction for The Gates Vince Davenport and Project Director Jonita Davenport joined the press conference at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, located inside Central Park.
"After more than a quarter of a century since it was first proposed, I am proud to welcome The Gates to Central Park," said Mayor Bloomberg. "The Gates - the largest artwork in our City's history - will draw thousands of tourists from around the globe and add immeasurably to New York City's rich history of public art. Innovative works of art provoke debate, spark our imaginations, and help us re-define the space we live in, and The Gates will bring that experience to those who come to see it. I would like to thank Christo and Jeanne-Claude for bringing this magnificent project to our City. I invite all New Yorkers and visitors from around the world to come to Central Park over the next sixteen days to experience this once-in-a-lifetime work of art."
The artists envision a "golden ceiling creating warm shadows" along the pathways of the Park. The Gates is entirely financed by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who do not accept sponsorship of any kind. The artists are providing employment for 1,100 workers, including nearly 700 New York City residents, involved in the assembly, installation, maintenance, security, and removal of the work of art. They not accept volunteer support.
Mayor Bloomberg announced the approval of The Gates on January 22, 2003. The temporary work of art stretches across paved paths throughout the park from 59th Street to 110th Street. Each of the 7,500 gates stands 16 feet high and varies from 6 to 18 feet in width. The free-hanging fabric panels suspended from the top drop to approximately 7 feet above ground. The gates are spaced at 12-foot intervals, except where low branches extend above the walkway. 5,290 tons of steel was used to make the 15,000 steel bases (equivalent to 2/3 the steel in the Eiffel Tower) and 1,067,330 square feet of rip-stop nylon fabric was used to create the saffron-colored panels. Most of the materials used in the project will be recycled following the removal.
The Central Park Conservancy worked closely with Christo and Jeanne-Claude to ensure that the installation of the project did not disturb the maintenance and management of the park and no holes were dug in the ground. In addition, no gates were installed in areas with high concentrations of birds or other wildlife.
"We were fortunate to have an enthusiastic and capable team to install The Gates and our 600 crew members finished early," said Vince Davenport. "Public safety and protection of the Park have always been our first priorities and we are very pleased that the installation went so well. The Gates look spectacular and are even more beautiful than I could have imagined. We would not have been able to complete this enormous logistical challenge without the support and assistance of the Central Park Conservancy staff."
The Gates will be an international event, as New York City is welcoming media and tour groups from Asia, Europe, Central and South America and across the United States, including Japanese educational tour groups, a Daimler-Chrysler corporate reward group and various travel groups from Germany. International visitors, while comprising only 13% of New York City's total visitor volume, represent 45% of total visitor spending. In addition, hotels, cultural organizations and restaurants throughout the city are offering special promotions during The Gates. A full list of special offers and events is available on www.nycvisit.com.
As a result of The Gates, NYC & Company expects an increase of 100,000 hotel room nights. New York City tourism is a $24 billion industry that supports nearly 300,000 jobs in all five boroughs. Approximately 50% of the City's 40 million annual visitors include cultural activities as part of their New York City itinerary. Spending by these cultural visitors produces $12 billion in economic activity citywide on lodging, dining, shopping, entertainment and transportation.
The City's Economic Development Corporation expects New York City to generate over $80 million of economic impact. Christo and Jeanne-Claude are financing the entire cost of The Gates and do not accept any forms of sponsorship. The public will bear no expense of any kind. The artists have also donated $3 million to the City for programs and operations both in Central Park and in other City parks.
The Department of Cultural Affairs has created an online cultural event finder, called Cool New York that allows users to search hundreds of cultural activities taking place throughout the five boroughs: www.nyc.gov/culture. Visitors to The Gates are also encouraged to take advantage of the many cultural attractions within walking distance of Central Park. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is allowing its visitors to enjoy The Gates from its roof garden. With convenient access by bus and subway, visitors can also take advantage of the countless museums, galleries, performing arts centers, zoos and botanical gardens throughout the city.
The Department of Education created a number of ways to engage public school students in this once-in-a-lifetime work of art. Over 450 New York City public school students of all ages from schools across the city will view The Gates firsthand through free tours being offered through the Mayor's Office. For these tours, The Museum of the City of New York is providing a staging area for the school groups to convene. The Department of Education also created an instructional guide to The Gates for students and teachers that was distributed to all Regional Arts
Supervisors and available on the Project Arts website: www.nycenet.edu/projectarts. The guide includes questions for on-site discussion, ideas for art making and guidelines for exploration and research. Twenty 10th Grade art students from the High School of Contemporary Arts in the Bronx attended today's briefing. The class has been discussing how The Gates will temporarily transform the Park and the community, as well as the effect Christo and Jeanne-Claude have had on the contemporary art world.
The Central Park Conservancy is providing a number of services to enhance the experience of The Gates. Visitor centers throughout the Park are providing a warm place to receive information and purchase souvenir products such as posters, postcards, T-shirts, caps, maps. All proceeds from this merchandise benefit Nurture New York's Nature Inc. (a nonprofit supporting arts and the environment), Central Park and other New York City parks. Christo and Jeanne-Claude receive no income from the sales of the merchandise. Guided trolley tours and walking tours are also being offered through February 27. At the Park entrance at 60th Street and 5th Avenue, the Conservancy will be selling one-day passes for trolleys that will loop the park from 59th Street to 110th Street and allow people to get-off and re-board at any of 12 stops. More information on services and merchandise is available on the Conservancy's website: www.centralparknyc.org.
High-resolution digital images for publication can be provided by Christo and Jeanne-Claude's exclusive photographer, Wolfgang Volz, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org; fax: 49-211-966-0446; website: www.wolfgangvolz.com. All images are copyrighted.
For video footage of the press conference, email Seth Unger, NYC TV: email@example.com.