In this first image, we see three members of the Thames River Police at work upon the eponymous river, acting as both law enforcement and lifeguards upon the water. The boat in this setting, is a practical tool used to increase the efficiency of law enforcement in London as it faces new challenges with its growth in the 18th century. It is an innovative way of utilising the natural infrastructure of the city as it advances into modernity.
New York City
The following four images depict a different use of the row-boat in a modern city, that of leisure. Unlike the Thames, these bodies of water – the lakes of Central Park, NYC – serve little practical purpose. Here we see an altogether different scene, that of the city’s denizens escaping the urban environment, isolated, finding privacy in the middle of one of the world’s busiest cities.
This is the image I personally feel evokes a clear contrast between the solitude of the rower and the city he is escaping, almost out of sight, but never exactly so. This is the creation of a personal, private space in a modern city, although temporary.
Again, in this image, the city skyline almost feels alien, there’s a spatial contrast, a facsimile of the natural within the unnatural, like a human zoo.
Lastly, the boats at anchor. I feel that this photograph, unlike the other three captures no sense of the personal space created by the boats or the park around them, instead it is poignant. In their inanimate form it is harder to imagine the experience of privacy. It informs the viewer that the escapism provided is fleeting, gone as soon as you step back into the city.
Central Park Images: https://www.oldnyc.org/