New Temporary Urban Art Installation on Manhattan Bridge Colonnade

by Daniel Haim

Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly), in partnership with the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), today announced the start of Ultratope 1: Real City, a new, temporary urban art installation featuring visual projections on the Manhattan Bridge’s colonnade in Lower Manhattan that pays tribute to everyday New Yorkers, past and present, and their role shaping the character of the city.

Developed by artist Carl Skelton and supported by Sam Schwartz Engineering and the Bridge Centennial Commission, the installation is part of the DOT Urban Art Program’s Arterventions track and features basic information such as the names and birthplaces of people who immigrated to New York City projected onto the colonnade’s frieze for six weeks. Skelton is director of NYU-Poly’s Brooklyn Experimental Media Center and assistant professor of digital media.

The artist chose the site because of the colonnade’s symbolism as a gateway and its connection to the Lower East Side and that neighborhood’s deep ties to the city’s immigrant past. DOT’s Manhattan and Lower Manhattan Borough Commissioners’ offices worked closely with various local organizations, including the Chinatown Partnership, the Little Italy Merchants Association and the Eldridge Street Museum, to help the artist collect the information displayed. The projections will be displayed from dusk to dawn through March 31, 2011.

Real City will continue to evolve over the coming weeks as new names will be projected daily. Since the projection is being updated remotely, New Yorkers are invited to contribute additional names. If interested, send an e-mail to the artist at [email protected] and include the person’s full name, place and year of birth. The artist welcomes names of individuals living or deceased, as the installation looks to recognize past and current New Yorkers who have helped make the city an exciting, dynamic place to live through their everyday interactions with their communities.

This installation adds to other initiatives by DOT’s Urban Art Program to enhance public space through art and improved street design and streetscapes. Launched in 2008, the Urban Art Program brings agency’s World Class Streets initiative to life by partnering with community organizations to install murals, sculptures and other art forms in plazas and on medians, sidewalks and construction fences for up to 11 months on DOT properties citywide. Organizations or organization-artist teams are invited to apply to one of the Urban Art Program tracks: pARTners, Arterventions and Barrier Beautification. For more information, visit for more information.