A book and a blog

What inspired me to write a book about the hidden waterways within New York City? Read on… (more…)

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Logan’s Spring Brook, Staten Island

Back in March 2017, I documented the brook flowing along Bard Avenue on the North Shore of Staten Island. At the time I wrote that its furthest place aboveground was at Moody Place, which borders on Richmond University Medical Center. A tip from a colleague at Parks sent me further upstream where I found another piece of Logan’s Spring Brook in open view.

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This piece of Logan’s Spring Brook can be seen from the north side of Castleton Avenue between Walbrooke and Kissel Avenues. It flows in an alley then disappears below Castleton Avenue.

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Altamont Ponds, Staten Island

On the ridge overlooking Raritan Bay and the Atlantic Ocean is a set of connected parks, the Staten Island Greenbelt. High Rock Park is regarded by the Parks Department as the “buckle” of the Greenbelt. The park has its natural ponds, and not all of them have names.

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Two such ponds are at the southern edge of High Rock Park, separated by the unused Altamont House. For the purpose of this post, I’ll call them Altamont Ponds.

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Banzer’s Pond, Queens

In the cemetery belt that straddles the Brooklyn-Queens border there were a few glacial kettle ponds that were filled, one by one, to make way for more burials, and for the Jackie Robinson Parkway that sliced through the graveyards in 1927. One such waterway was Banzer’s Pond, whose disappearance has not been extensively documented.

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The above photo comes from The East New York Project, an encyclopedic history source for this corner of Brooklyn. The pond here is possibly shown in 1916, when it hosted a popular amusement center run by its namesake family.

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Huguenot Ponds, Staten Island

On the South Shore of Staten Island between Arbutus and Wolfe Creeks there is a set of ponds that are part of the larger Bluebelt system, located within private, state, and city-owned land. One such example is Huguenot Ponds in the neighborhood of Huguenot on Huguenot Avenue.

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The pond is part of the Arbutus Creek Bluebelt, a watershed that drains into Arbutus Creek. This 1.53-acre constructed wetland is an important element in the city’s effort to manage storm runoff through natural means rather than sewers.

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Verdanson, Montpellier

In the southern French region of Occitanie, the second largest city is Montpellier, located near the Mediterranean coast. Running through the city is a graffiti-covered concrete channel carrying the Verdanson River.

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Like the Los Angeles River, this concrete course sees only a trickle for much of the year, but when it rains it pours, and fills up nearly the entire basin with a torrent rushing to the sea. Continue reading

Minetta Creek’s parks, Manhattan

 

I’ve been reluctant to write too much online about Manhattan’s Minetta Creek as it is certainly the least forgotten of the city’s hidden waterways. It flows entirely under the surface these days from source to mouth, but above the surface there are many items that keep its memory alive.

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The all-but-invisible Minetta Brook was flowing in the city’s public consciousness nearly as soon as it was buried, appearing in local folklore, books, poems, magazines, and street names. Earlier this week I stumbled on a walking tour of Minetta Street where the guide allowed me to say a few words about its namesake stream.

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Mill River, Hempstead NY

Having previously visited West Hempstead and its Pine Stream, I followed up with its parent municipality of Hempstead, which has Mill River running beneath its town center flowing towards Hempstead Lake State Park and into Hewlett Bay. In part on account of the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, Mill River is the centerpiece of the state’s Living with the Bay plan which seeks to restore sections of this stream and make its watershed more resilient in reducing storm damage.

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Above is a view of this stream emerging to the surface from a culvert at Tyler Avenue and Peninsula Boulevard. Although it hardly looks like a river, this creek played a vital role in the development of Hempstead and in its future in managing storm runoff.

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Crystal Lake, Queens

The neighborhood of Kew Gardens is a mix of historic single-family residences, prewar co-ops, and recent infill condo boxes. It was built atop the glacial knob-and-kettle terrain that made for excellent golfing and contained a set of ponds dating to the last ice age. The largest of these was Crystal Lake.

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As seen on this 1909 surveyor’s photo, the scene is pastoral but within a year this pond would be filled in favor of a train station that is still there today.

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Mitsubishi Riverwalk, Bronx

In its course within the Bronx Zoo, the Bronx River contains plenty of Hidden Waters materials such as a long-forgotten boathouse, a tributary stream, and a lake that flows into the river. At the Bronx River Gate to the zoo on Boston Road there is a walkway along its shore with a view of a waterfall that is open to the public free of charge.

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It is a scenic and quiet corner of the otherwise heavily visited zoo, its centerpiece being a 10-foot cascade that appears as a waterfall.

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Delafield Ponds, Bronx

Deep inside the upscale Riverdale section of the Bronx is a private subdivision with two ponds that recall its former landowner. The ponds can be viewed by traveling downhill on West 246th Street to the west of Independence Avenue.

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Here, the street curves and descends downhill towards the Hudson River. Delafield Way branches off to the left with the ponds located behind a guard booth at the entrance to the Delafield Estates development.

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