'The Gates' opens in New York City

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

New York, New York — On February 12, 2005, at 8:30 a.m., New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg dropped the first piece of fabric in The Gates, a land art project by Christo and Jeanne Claude.

The artists installed 7,500 metal "gates" along 23 miles of pathways in New York City's Central Park. Each gate supported a flag-shaped piece of saffron fabric. The project is scheduled to run from Feb. 12, 2005 through Feb. 27, 2005. The project is sometimes referred to as "The Gates, Central Park, New York, 1979-2005" in reference to the time between the artists' initial proposal and the present day.


The installation of the project began on January 3, 2005.

During the week of January 17th, the park was filled with workers using fork lifts to move the rectangular metal plates into position all over Central Park.

There were small signs placed on every walkway in the park with alphanumeric codes that the workers were using to place the metal places onto the designated spots.

As of January 27, most of the plates had been placed in their positions. Many had small orange plastic markers sticking up a foot or two (around half a metre) from each end, possibly intended to help people find the base plates if they were covered with snow. A major snow storm and extreme cold hampered progress in late January.

As of February 7, there were many teams of workers wearing silver grey smocks moving the vertical parts of the gates and attaching them to the base plates. The documentation describes the color as "saffron" but local observers describe it as orange.

When attached, the vertical pieces are about 6 metres high, with a cross bar at the top from which the flag piece hangs. The most common width seems to be 11 feet (3.35 metres), though they vary considerably (depending on the width of the path) from around 6 feet (2 metres) to over 20 feet (6 metres).


Once Bloomberg released the first piece of cloth, the rest of the gates were opened over the course of the next few hours, with large crowds of people watching. Generally, the crews of people who erected the gates were assigned to open them. They simply had to walk underneath, and use a hook at the end of a long stick to pull a loop hanging from the cross bar of each gate. That opened the cloth bag which contained the "flag" part of the gate. The bag fell to the ground, along with a card board tube around which the flag was rolled. The flag then hung majestically from the cross bar.

As of Feb. 13, all of the gates have been opened. The project staff is still deployed in the park, patrolling, and replacing a few of the gates that have become damaged. There are many more people then usual walking around in the park, looking and photographing The Gates.


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