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Olafur Eliassonís waterfall installation at the Brooklyn Bridge
© Public Art Fund
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Take Me to the River
by Jerry Saltz



The facts and figures behind Olafur Eliassonís The New York City Waterfalls are impressive. Located at four points along the East River in lower Manhattan, the falls cost $15.5 million to build and involved an American-based crew of almost 200 engineers, designers, consultants, permitting specialists and electricians. There were also scores of architects, engineers, craftsmen and assistants employed by Eliassonís own Berlin-based "laboratory for spatial research," not to mention the gargantuan effort of the Public Art Fund. Things were so specialized that on a boat ride the night of the opening a man told me his job was to coordinate the little red lights atop each fall to protect low-flying aircraft. The fact sheet on the falls says the tallest one is higher than the Statue of Liberty; the other three are as tall as nine- to twelve-story buildings. Thatís big.

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