Local bird’s-eye 4th of July

Fireworks, as seen from Waterside, lit up the night on July 4th. (Photo by Tobias Batz)

Fireworks, as seen from Waterside, lit up the night on July 4th. (Photo by Tobias Batz)

By Sabina Mollot

On Saturday, July 4th, with four of Macy’s barges lined up from 23rd to 37th Streets over the East River, residents at Waterside Plaza enjoyed a particularly enviable view of the fireworks this year.

Throughout the evening, with access limited to residents and their guests, between 5,000 and 6,000 people lined up along the outdoor plaza.

Thousands more lined up just north of Waterside’s towers along the car-free FDR Drive. Another fireworks display took place further downtown near the Brooklyn Bridge. Before the sky filled with the familiar flash and boom though, at Waterside, festivities also included a barbecue on the plaza for residents and various kids’ activities.

During this time, Town & Village spoke with residents to ask about what July 4th has been like there over the years.

Waswa Mubanda, who grew up at the complex, was there visiting his sister who still lives there. Now a resident of Minnesota, Mubanda recalled how in the past, getting into the complex on July 4th didn’t require RSVPing for wristband access or getting past bomb-sniffing dogs as it did on Saturday. But he liked the addition of kids’ activities. “Now it’s good for families and the food is good,” he said. “It’s nice to be here on the 4th of July instead of Southstreet Seaport.”

Arpine Dod, a resident for 41 years, said she always looks forward to celebrating July 4th with neighbors even when the fireworks and events have been elsewhere. “Because everybody gets together and it’s very festive,” she said. “What makes it so special is it’s a holiday event that everyone can celebrate regardless of your religion or nationality.”

Waterside’s owner and developer, Richard Ravitch, was also on hand on the 4th, saying “It is a thrill for me to be here and see all of these people. I’m very emotional about it.”

The emotions were stirred up at the memory of how he had sat at the edge of the water, where Waterside stands today, with architect Lewis Davis 54 years ago, after hearing about how the United Nations was looking for a place to house its personnel. That’s when the idea came to Ravitch to provide it himself. The developer, who has said he would like to see senior housing built nearby at the bookend parcel of the proposed sanitation garage side on East 25th Street, recently moved his office to Waterside.

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