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Late last night, a flatbed truck returned to Hudson River Park with Malcolm Cochran’s Private Passage. In an operation lasting into the early hours of this morning, the 19,000-pound landmark artwork was hauled, rolled, pushed and cajoled back onto its foundations at Pier 96 at the end of W56th Street.

Malcolm Cochran’s Private Passage returned to Hudson River Park on a flatbed truck last night and was being prepared for the public early this morning. All photos: Phil O’Brien

The artist, Cochran, was on hand to watch everything being put back into place last night as the team led by Jackie Wilson from Wilson Conservation used cradles, hoists and worker power to accurately place the “bottle” back on its plinth.” Dun-Rite Specialized Carriers were in charge of the heavy lifting and Stronghold Industries put in place all the final pieces, like glass and electricity.

The bottle is fabricated of steel and finished to resemble bronze with a traditional green patina. At night, and in overcast weather, the interior is illuminated by electric lights that are part of the cabin’s furnishings.

When the green sculpture was hauled away last November, much of the outside was showing heavy signs of weathering. Working with Wilson and the team at American Stripping Company in Manassas Park, Virginia, they replicated the original patina with paint. “We came up with a layering of three different colors to mimic and to get close to the original patina. So there’s a blue, green base, then there’s dark green and then there’s a black-green. The dark green and the black-green are put on very light, kind of a ghosting on it. We decided that the painting was the better way to go for durability, We’re also hopeful that it will be easier to retouch,” said Cochran.

Artist Malcolm Cochran watches as Private Passage is moved back into place at Clinton Cove

Hudson River Park spent $414,000 on the restoration of the iconic sculpture. Cochran described the piece: “The project is a cabin, rather than a ship, in a bottle. Visitors to the park view the interior through portholes along the sides and through openings in the neck and punty end. The porthole in the front left side is designed for young children, The interior is based loosely on photographs of the RMS Queen Mary. All components are stainless steel, in a monochromatic scheme that evokes the look of a platinum print or a black and white film still.”

He added: “Private Passage is on one level a timepiece, for me a way to remember my excitement as a six-year-old sailing to Europe in 1955 and to conjure up the era when the west side of Manhattan was a hub of ocean liner and commercial traffic. It also points to the future, as viewers imagine themselves in the bottle, individuals, not messages, floating down river to the Atlantic on solitary voyages. Life’s passages.”

The park was still under construction 17 years ago when Private Passage was installed, which meant that they boomed the bottle in with a crane the first time. Asked about whether he’d be around for the next time Private Passage is restored, Cochran said: “I was here when it moved here in 2005. It was 17 years until the restoration, but maybe it can be a bit longer this time. I don’t think I’ll see another restoration. Maybe.”

Malcolm Cochran’s Private Passage returned to Hudson River Park on a flatbed truck last night.
Malcolm Cochran’s Private Passage returned to Hudson River Park on a flatbed truck.
Workers from Stronghold Industries and Dun-Rite Specialized Carriers return Malcolm Cochran’s Private Passage to Hudson River Park
Malcolm Cochran’s Private Passage gets lined up to be returned to its resting place.
Malcolm Cochran’s Private Passage returned to Hudson River Park
Artist Malcolm Cochran’s checking on Private Passage at its back door.
Through the window — Malcolm Cochran examines his Private Passage sculpture.
Jackie Wilson inside Malcolm Cochran’s Private Passage checking on installation progress.
Final checks on alignment underneath Malcolm Cochran’s Private Passage.
Malcolm Cochran celebrates with the team that returned Private Passage to Hudson River Park — (from left) Jackie Wilson, Chris Hall from Stronghold Industries, Mike Narcisco and Frank Rapaccioli from Dun-Rite.
Chris Hall from Stronghold Industries starts to unwrap Malcolm Cochran’s Private Passage.
Malcolm Cochran and Jackie Wilson chatting as Private Passage is installed again at Clinton Cove.
The glass is installed at the neck of the bottle of Malcolm Cochran’s Private Passage.
Time to take off the cover — Malcolm Cochran’s Private Passage is unveiled again (this time after midnight!)
The wraps are off! Malcolm Cochran’s Private Passage returned to Hudson River Park.
Victoria Velasco from Wilson Conservation sorting the finishing touches at Malcolm Cochran’s Private Passage early this morning.
It’s back! Malcolm Cochran’s Private Passage returned to Hudson River Park on a flatbed truck last night.
Artist Malcolm Cochran peeks inside his Private Passage.

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