Be Good or Be Gone
MTA Commissioned Subway Station
Installation of faceted glass in platform windscreens at the Beach 98th Street A/S train MTA subway station.
The MTA proposal drawings consist of several symbols local to the Rockaways. The left side of one diptych shows two images of a Piping Plover – an endangered bird that has chosen a section of beach at the Rockaways, just a few blocks south of the 90th Street station as one of its few remaining nesting grounds. The nautical flags spell out the popular phrase “Be Good or Be Gone” which can be seen behind the doors of several pubs and restaurants in the neighborhood. I am using the phrase as a reminder for visitors to take care and appreciate the fragile environment of the area.
The other diptych has nautical flags above images of seaside bungalows that also bear a common Rockaway phrase, “No Sniveling’’ which simply means no complaining. In the past 150 years, Rockaway beach endured more destruction from storms and fire than any other part of New York City. As often is the case with waterfront communities, the unwavering determination to rebuild has shaped the resilient culture of the community.
At the north end of B84th (once Java Street) is a long pier that extends out into Jamaica Bay. What makes this pier unique is the row of 20 houses built on it. There are similar houses built up on pylons in other parts of the city but this is the only remaining bungalow housing pier of its kind in all of New York City, and perhaps the State. Several of them are still occupied as year round homes. In this illustration, all of the bungalows appear occupied under the night sky, with their windows illuminated. A rope serves as border for the drawing, with two bowline knots (a very strong knot commonly used to tie down the bow of a ship) on each end. The bowline knots represent the strength and closeness within this small community due to the close quarters of the bungalows; all of the residents would share one common, narrow walkway along the dock to access his or her own home.
The designs I proposed relate to all three of the Rockaway beach subway stations, which hold personal significance for me. Eleven years ago they gave me my first glimpse of the Rockaways, and I’ve been grateful to them ever since.
This neighborhood has weathered more disasters than any in NYC. Great Storm of 1920, Beach 86th Street