The Islands of the Undesirables Across Harlem River

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(Randall’s Island and Ward’s Island as seen from Upper East Side, NY.)

A set of islands, just across the Harlem River, is where New York used to send “the tired, poor, sick and criminal… to be treated (or sometimes just confined).” They came to be known as the Islands of the Undesirables.

Among these islands are Randall’s and Ward’s, which were distinct islands until the 1960’s when New York dumped its rubble to fill the gap.

Talk about a dubious history!

But today the combined island is home to a park and a stadium (where Usain Bolt broke a world record), and hosts the Governor’s Ball Music Festival. It also has the NY Fire Department training academy where various structures are built to simulate all kinds of environments fire fighters might encounter (including a subway tunnel, a helipad, and a ship).

Undesirable no more.


Dubious 

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What’s With Love Locks?

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(At the NY Waterway near the Brooklyn Bridge.)

Sweethearts write their names or initials on the padlock and throw away the key to symbolize a love that “cannot be broken.”

Apparently started 100 years ago when a soldier went to war and fell in love with another woman, breaking his vow to his sweetheart at home. Since then love locks were seen as a wish, if not a promise, to keep love safely “locked.”

It has become common in the last few years specially in tourist areas, that it has been considered a form of littering and even vandalism. There is a “No Love Locks” movement in Paris and other places.

Does it work? Maybe. Not in a superstitious way but in the psychological commitment that could come from the act. Something similar to marriage vows in front of family, friends and community. But I guess just like other expressions of commitment, it really depends on how serious the commitment was in the first place — and the desire to work together to make the relationship work. That’s much harder than putting a padlock on a fence.

Names