Spring in New York brings flowers—and floaters

Warmer weather in the city means pretty cherry blossoms, outdoor cafes clogging sidewalks . . . and a reliable spike in the number of bodies found floating around in New York City’s waterways. 

Yep, it’s a documented phenomenon. These “floaters” are the remains of people who ended up in the river during the winter, either by suicide, homicide, or accidentally. 

Why do they reappear in spring? Frigid water often keeps a corpse submerged. But once temperatures rise, gases are produced in the body that force it to come to the surface . . . and get picked up by NYPD harbor boats.

The identities of many floaters never make it into the papers. But one turned out to be monologist Spalding Gray.

His body came up on the Brooklyn side of the East River in March 2004, two months after he’s thought to have jumped off the Staten Island Ferry.

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4 Responses to “Spring in New York brings flowers—and floaters”

  1. Alex Says:

    I recall reading about Spalding Gray’s disappearance and possible suicide from the Staten Island Ferry. He had been seriously injured in a car accident a few years earlier and also suffered severe depression. His final appearance as a “floater” is a sad end to an amazing individual.

  2. petey Says:

    yes i remember his death too. i saw one of his monologue shows, it was very droll and very good.

  3. April in New York Harbor – Seals, New Boats and Floaters? : Old Salt Blog – a virtual port of call for all those who love the sea Says:

    […] Spring in New York brings flowers—and floaters […]

  4. Spring in New York: Mind the floating corpses | Metropolitan Walker Says:

    […] is a beautiful time in New York. The flowers bloom. The trees awake. And, as the often-interesting Ephemeral New York reminds us, the bodies begin to float on the river. Yep, it’s a documented phenomenon. These “floaters” […]

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