A book and a blog

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

Factory Pond, Staten Island

Among the boroughs, Staten Island has the largest number of hidden waterways, most of them still in their natural condition as this borough is often regarded as the city’s last frontier. Long before the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connected the island to Brooklyn, its north Shore was already an established hive of industry. In the West Brighton neighborhood, Factory Pond supplied water for the New York Dyeing and Printing Works, a major employer and polluter on the North Shore.

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In the undated etching above, Factory Pond is seen behind the smokestacks, with Staten Island’s Broadway in the foreground. The pond was gone by 1908, and today on its site is Corporal Thompson Park. Here’s the story of a Staten Island pond that is no longer there.

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Alexandra Canal, Singapore

At the tip of southeast Asia is the city-state of Singapore. Its tropical climate and hilly terrain means that there are plenty of hidden waterways flowing through this little republic. The Singapore River shares the country’s name flowing through its Downtown Core on the way to the sea. The furthest reaching tributary of this river is Alexandra Canal.

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Considering the density of Singapore and its long history of neglecting such waterways, what has become of Alexandra Canal?

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Pelham Bay Lagoon, Bronx

At the northeast tip of the Bronx is an ear-shaped peninsula framed in the back by The Lagoon, a body of water separating the peninsula from the park’s larger section.

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It is a quiet and shallow waterway on the city’s periphery, as natural as it gets in a densely urbanized borough. Its shape is manmade as it once separated islands from the mainland prior to becoming part of the largest land reclamation project in the Bronx.

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Bard Avenue brook, Staten Island

In the West New Brighton neighborhood of Staten Island, one would see historic cottage homes with spacious lawns and quiet tree-lined streets. The largest park here is Snug Harbor campus through which Harbor Brook flows. Its western tributary is not as easy to access, flowing mostly through private properties.

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For a few blocks on Bard Avenue, Logan’s Spring Brook weaves through yards along the road between Moody Place and Wales Place. Continue reading

Expressway to Boulevard on Bronx River

This past weekend, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans to replace the 1.3-mile Sheridan Expressway in the Bronx with a boulevard in an effort to reconnect the residents of the Crotona Park East and West Farms neighborhoods with parks along the Bronx River.

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The route of this short interstate spur is similar to that of nearly a dozen other highways within then city: it follows the course of a river.

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Silver Lake Reservoir, Staten Island

On Staten Island there are four golf courses, three operated by city, and a private one operating on state-owned land. The Silver Lake Golf Course is located on rolling terrain on the slope of the Silver Lake Reservoir.

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The shape of the lake resembles an expanded number eight with a dam across the lake’s midpoint to separate its two basins. Once a natural waterway, it was drained in 1913, lined with concrete and connected to the city’s aqueduct.

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Rattlesnake Brook, Bronx

In the northeast corner of the Bronx, Seton Falls Park takes up nearly 36 acres of woodland and freshwater marsh with a small stream flowing through the park. Its name was a curiosity for me. How is it that a park named after a waterfall does not have any waterways appearing on maps of the area? Did the stream dry up or was it buried? How big was this waterfall?

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On a winter day, the channel flowing through the park is nearly dry and covered with dead leaves. This is the surface remnant of Rattlesnake Brook that flows through Seton Falls Park

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Hutchinson River, Bronx

At the city’s extreme northeast is Pelham Bay Park, a vast greensward that is three times the size of Central Park. One could not feel more distant from the city when visiting the park’s destinations: Orchard Beach, Bartow-Pell Mansion, Split Rock Golf Course, and the trails of Hunter Island and Twin Islands. On the inland side of the park is the Hutchinson River, known to most New Yorkers as the namesake of the parkway that follows its course.

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The river has a history relating to the conflict among Puritan colonists in New England that led to the English annexation of New Netherlands.

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Pine Stream, West Hempstead

A half hour to the east of my home in Queens is the suburban community of West Hempstead. With some of my friends priced out of the city when seeking houses, this was their village of choice. Like many towns, it has its own waterway with a history, hidden behind backyards in some spots, and widening into a pond that is the centerpiece of the community.

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Halls Pond is the premier public space in West Hempstead, where the water of Pine Stream gathers in a beautiful 11-acre park.

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Weir Creek, Bronx

The eastern coast of the Bronx is often compared to New England with its rocky shoreline, fishing boats, and fancy mansions with views. While much of the eastern seaboard south of New York is comprised of sandbars and barrier islands, the New England coast is rocky and dotted with islands and inlets. In the Edgewater Park neighborhood, an inlet framed by a park is all that remains of Weir Creek.

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The park at the head of the inlet conceals archeology going back to its time as a Native encampment.

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