Mayor Bloomberg and other city officials joined artist Olafur Eliasson and Susan K. Freedman of the Public Art Fund at a press conference this morning at the South Street Seaport, where all four of Eliasson's waterfalls can be seen at once. An aide to the mayor noted that there was more press attending this event than when he announced he was switching his party to become independent.
The mayor estimated that the waterfalls, which will be spraying East River water through October 13th, will generate approximately $55 million for the city. The project is being "virtually" paid for with private funds, according to Bloomberg, with about $2 million from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. He also warned New Yorkers "not to climb on them or try to swim around" the waterfalls, and encouraged everyone to call 311 for waterfalls details. (Seriously.)
Bloomberg and Eliasson joined the first media bout tour, during which the artist explained that he intentionally left the scaffolding visible because he didn't want viewers to get distracted trying to figure out how the waterfalls work. The waterfalls, he said, are meant to draw connections between different parts of the city and, because the water takes time to fall, remind people of the present moment.
New York Circle Line, which is the "official" water tour operator for the NYC Waterfalls; they have a number of free and "specially-priced" tours running daily. Other tours are being run by New York Water Taxi and Circle Line Sightseeing (home of the $50,000 waterfalls tour). Here's a handy guide, and you can also bike the falls along this DOT-recommended route.