Dam the East River.
First, a northern dam would span Horns Hook at 90th Street in Manhattan to Hallets Point in Astoria, Queens. The southern counterpart could stretch from Battery Park in southern Manhattan to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.
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The flow of water from Long Island Sound and the Harlem River would thus be harmlessly rerouted into the Hudson, while a vast dry valley would be created by draining off the waters between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Then it should be filled in. The reclaimed area, perhaps 2,000 acres of newfound land, could be called - what else? - Brookhattan.
Consider the advantages. Traffic congestion caused by the failure of the major East River bridges could be eased by extending Manhattan's grid across the reclaimed Brookhattan territory. Hundreds of new cross streets could be named after prominent local politicians. Parking space could be ''condoed'' to help pay for the road construction.
Half of Brookhattan's acreage could be signed over tax-free to real estate developers who promise to build unaffordable luxury housing, a dearth of which is apparently impending in Manhattan.
Simultaneously, the other half of the reclaimed territory could be given over to low-rise tent cities - no, to tin and cardboard shanty cities. Here drug dealers recently evicted from substandard New York-owned buildings could live, properly policed from both ''shores.''
Because of the increased access to Manhattan via Brookhattan, subway service to Brooklyn and Queens could be allowed to further deteriorate, saving the Metropolitan Transporation Authority untold millions of dollars in repair and replacement costs.
Quaint footpaths could be built around the sides of Roosevelt ex-Island and lined with shops displaced by unregulated commercial rents. This development, not far from Bloomingdale's and Alexander's, could be renamed Mount Roosevelt Mall and serve as a mecca for shopping pilgrims from all over the world.
The Williamsburg Bridge (along with the controversial Pepsi-Cola sign in Long Island City) could be granted landmark status and, as a pile of abstractly fallen girders, could be left as a monument to foresight and effective management.
As for the maintenance of the dams, these simple earthern structures could easily be maintained by using New York's increasing volume of trash as landfill. In fact, they could be entirely constructed of garbage, and tamped into place by 18-wheel trucks unable to use city bridges.
It's not hard to see how this fertile crescent would be financed. As it did with the Polo Grounds and the old Yankee Stadium, the city could sell off parts of the old bridges. Surely, retiring commuters would want souvenirs of the places where they spent half their lives.