It too frequently happens that In the reconstruction of public works, those who plan and build take too limited a view of the possible developments of the future, with the result that all too soon the ever-rising tide of population and industry again overflows its accommodations. No such mistake, however, has been made by the government in planning the enlargement and reconstruction of the military post at Governor's Island. A careful study of the drawing on the front page of this issue, showing a bird's eye view of the island as it will appear when the great works which are now under way are completed, should satisfy the most skeptical that the plans of the government to establish at Governor's Island one of the greatest military posts of the world are in a fair way to be realized. Governor's Island, lying to the southeast of the lower end of Manhattan Island and not far from the Brooklyn shore, is a familiar spot, not merely to New Yorkers, but to all of the many millions who have occasion to enter or leave the United States through the port of New York, or as residents have occasion to sail on the waters of the Upper Bay. It was in 1794 that Governor's Island was established as a military post, and shortly thereafter the now historic walls of Castle Williams began to rise on the westerly extremity of the island. The castle, we are glad to learn, will be included in the scheme of reconstruction, and another structure of historic interest which will be permitted to remain is Fort Jay, which crowns the summit of the island. From the center of the fort there will rise as a crowning architectural feature a large water tower, whose architecture will conform to that of the surroundings. Two other historic structures which will be permitted to remain are the Chapel of Cornelius the Centurion, and the South Battery built many years ago for the protection of the Buttermilk Channel. Outside of these four buildings the government will make a clean sweep of the other structures, all of whose interest is purely of a sentimental, and certainly not of an architectural character. The museum, the regimental headquarters, and in fact every residence on the east side, will be swept away, as will also the homes of the officers, including the really handsome old mansion at present occupied by Gen. Grant. The most notable work in connection with the reconstruction is the enlargement of the island by the addition of over 100 acres at its southerly end. For this work Congress appropriated $1,100,000, and the additional ground is being secured by building two long masonry sea walls, starting from opposite sides of the island and converging in a southerly direction to finish in a bold semicircular sweep. The inclosed area is being filled in by dredges, and it is expected that in three years time work will be complete and a total area of 101 acres added to the present island. Upon the whole island, as thus enlarged, the government has planned to erect all the buildings necessary for the accommodation of a full regiment, including the homes for the officers, barracks for the men, and all the buildings incidental to the work of the headquarters of the Department of the East. Commencing at Castle Williams, and extending along the southerly front of the new portion of the island, there will be a long row of twenty-eight buildings, including the prison guard, the corps barracks, the home of the hospital sergeant, and a handsome hospital building. Beyond these, and flanking the easterly side of the great parade ground, will be seventeen separate houses for the accommodation of the regimental officers. A similar row of seventeen homes will flank the parade ground on the westerly side. To the north of the parade ground will be thirteen handsome villas for the accomn'o lation of the commanding officer and other senior officers of the regiment, including the captains, majors, surgeons, etc. On the south the parade ground will be bounded by buildings for the accommodation of the enlisted men to the number of 1,200. These barrack buildings will be of great size, and nothing has btsn left undone to provide the men with every convenience and comfort common to this class of building. The parade ground, as thus inclosed, will be the finest in the country, with a length of 1,700 feet and a breadth varying from 1,400 feet at its northerly end to 900 feet alpng its' southern boundary. To the south of the barrack buildings will be a large athletic field, 600 feet in length and from 800 to 300 feet in width. Around the athletic field, and corresponding in position to the regimental officers' quarters, will be the separate homes of the non-commissioned officers. The northerly portion of the grounds, or what is practically the present island, will be occupied by a fine semicircular park, the center of which will continue to be occupied by the present Fort Jay, with its new reservoir and water tower; while around the park, and fronting upon a great semicircular driveway encircling the northern end of the island, will be other homes of the department and staff officers. On the northeast side of the Island and 400 feet distant, with a broad driveway and an avenue of trees between, will be another group of officers' quarters, flanked by a stately mansion built for the accommodation of the commanding general. On the northwesterly side of the island, fronting the southern end of Manhattan Island, will be some of the largest and most important structures included in the new scheme of reconstruction. Among these will be a large two-storied building for the quartermaster's department, a medical supply depot, and many other buildings for the ordnance and engineers' department. There will be two new ferry slips, one for passenger and the other for freight service, between which there will be four piers at which lighters and small freight-carrying craft will unload the vast amount of quartermaster's supplies which will be brought to the island for shipment to our distant possessions. One of the most important improvements will be the construction of a basin of sufficient size to accommodate at any one time two of the largest of our transport ships. It is expected that the reclamation of the 101 acres at the southern end of the island will be completed wfithin three years' time, when the work of erecting the buildings and preparing the grounds will be energetically prosecuted. Luminous Froge and ;rabe. The flesh of most sea fishes and other marine animals becomes more or less luminous within a day or two after death. The light is emitted, however, not by the flesh itself, but by certain bacteria which can be collected from its surface, and which are of common occurrence in sear water. A similar appearance, due also to the presence of luminous bacteria, is often presented by meat. These bacteria are harmless to human beings, as they cannot live at a temperature above 76 deg. F., and the temperature of the human body is 98 deg. F., but living cold-blooded animals can be inoculated with luminous bacteria, with surprising results. The Russian physiologist Tarchanoff inoculated frogs with luminous bacteria obtained from the Baltic. The bacteria multiplied in the blood, and caused the entire body of the frog to emit light. The luminescence, which was especially intense in the tongue and other soft parts, continued three or four days. Similar phenomena have been observed to occur naturally in coldblooded animals. A few years ago the French naturalist Giard found among the sand hoppers that swarmed on the beach at Wimereux one which, instead of hopping, crawled slowly over the sand and glowed brightly. On examination, the body of the little crustacean was found to be filled with luminous bacteria. When other sand hoppers were inoculated with its blood, they also became luminous, gradually lost strength, and soon died, but continued to glow for several hours after death. The observed cases of luminescence in earthworms, mole crickets, and other cold-blooded animals not normally luminous, are probably to be attributed to a similar infection with luminous bacteria or luminous fungi. Capt. Amundsen to Attempt to Reach the North Pole through Bering Strait. Capt, Raold Amundsen has recently stated that he intends to make another start for the North Pole in 1910. He said : "My head is full of plans for my next expedition, though none of them have been fully worked out or finally decided upon. I have decided, though, to make my next trip through Bering Strait rather than by the eastern route selected by Commander Peary. It is probable that I shall also take with me about the same number of men, seven, and possibly stay for the same length of time in the North." Capt. Amundsen, during the three years that he spent in the North while on his last expedition, definitely located the magnetic pole and succeeded in navigating the Northwestern Passage. Earthquakes and Petroleum Fields. In a paper recently presented to the French Academy of Sciences, M. Tassart points out an interesting connection between petroleum layers and seismi-cal phenomena. A thorough examination of the location of petroleum fields has brought out the following facts: 1. All petroleum fields situated in recent strata are confined within regions of maximum seismical activity or in their immediate vicinity. 2. Petroleum fields are but rarely found in ancient strata, within seismical zones. 3. Those petroleum fields which are situated outside of such zones belong to ancient strata and were formerly the seat of a lively seismical activity. Error Corrected. Through an oversight, the name of the firm of architects that designed Mr. Thomas A, Edison's concrete house was given as "Manning & Macneille." It should have been Messrs. Mann & Macneille.
This article was originally published with the title "The Enlargement and Reconstruction of Governor's Island" in Scientific American 97, 22, 395 (November 1907)