‘Waterfalls’ brought in $69 million for NYC

This June 26, 2008 file photo shows a man-made waterfall under the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. The The New York City Waterfalls was a windfall. Bebeto Matthew, The Associated Press

AP

This June 26, 2008 file photo shows a man-made waterfall under the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. The “The New York City Waterfalls” was a windfall. Bebeto Matthew, The Associated Press

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK – “The New York City Waterfalls” was apparently a windfall.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the public artwork by Olafur Eliasson that put four waterfalls in the East River and New York Harbor brought in an estimated $69 million for New York City, exceeding initial expectations of $55 million. The work drew 1.4 million visitors from June 26 to Oct. 13 to view the installation off Manhattan’s East Side.

“People didn’t buy tickets or pass through a turnstile to experience the ‘Waterfalls,’ but this exhibition brought people to areas of the city they might not otherwise ever have visited,” the mayor said Tuesday in a statement. “We’ve always understood that we have to encourage big, bold projects that set our city apart, and this will be increasingly important while areas of our economy are struggling from the turmoil on Wall Street.”

The project was not without its problems. It generated complaints from some neighborhood groups and businesses that said salty mist from the manmade cataracts was damaging waterfront plantings along Brooklyn Heights’ popular promenade. In response, the Public Art Fund in September cut the exhibit’s weekly hours in half.

Ranging from 90 to 120 feet tall, the waterfalls together spurted about 35,000 gallons of water per minute.

The project was the city’s largest public art endeavor since 2005, when artist Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, festooned 23 miles of Central Park’s footpaths with thousands of saffron drapes hung from specially designed frames.

More than 5 million people saw “The Gates,” including about 1.5 million out-of-town visitors. That installation was credited with injecting about $254 million into the local economy.