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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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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Williamsbridge Reservoir, Bronx

September 9, 2017 the Williamsbridge Oval in the Norwood section of the Bronx observed the 80th anniversary since it opened to the public as a park. Prior to that it was a 120 million gallon reservoir built into a bowl-shaped depression on a hilltop.

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As seen on this 1937 Parks archives photo of the park under construction, the earthen embankment that ringed this manmade waterway was preserved in the park’s design.

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Kaitzbach, Dresden

Nearly every sizable European city dating to the Middle Ages or earlier had defensive moats on accounts of wars waged between various duchies, kingdoms, and empires. Some of these moats were manmade and others were modified natural streams. Along with moats, every city had a millstream whose water was harnessed to produce grain for the residents. When moats and milldams became obsolete, they were reduced in size, filled, or retained as water features in parks.

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Above is the Kaitzbach stream flowing through the Große Garten park in Dresden, Germany. Here, it widens into the Carolasee lake before disappearing under the city’s streets. The postcard dates from 1914, the year when imperial Germany plunged into the First World War.

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Big John’s Pond, Queens

On the road connecting mainland Queens to the Rockaway peninsula is the island community of Broad Channel. The southern half of this island is a residential neighborhood while the rest is a wildlife refuge administered by the National Parks Service. East Pond and West Pond are well-known to visitors of this park, and then there’s Big John’s Pond, which I did not know about until this week.

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In a city that rewards historic landowners and political greats with places on the map, who was Big John and what is the history of this little-known pond?

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Barretto Point Park, Bronx

When I am not exploring the city’s hidden waterways, I like to give attention to the its lesser known waterfront parks. One such example is Barretto Point Park, which opened in 2006 in the Hunts Point neighborhood in the Bronx.

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Surrounded by manufacturing facilities, it is a welcome patch of green on a bend in the East River.

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Northern Ponds, Bronx

When the Bronx Zoo was developed at the turn of the 20th century, its design was considered innovative as it preserved much of its natural terrain, giving many of the animals room to roam at a time when many zoos kept their exhibits in tight cages. The preservation of the landscape enabled the Bronx River to flow freely through the zoo, and retained some of the ponds and brooks within the zoo for the enjoyment of the animals.

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Among these waterways are the Northern Ponds and the brook that sends the water downstream from these ponds into the Bronx River.

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Eibs Pond, Staten Island

In a wide valley to the east of Grymes Hill is a 17-acre park containing three glacial kettle ponds tucked in a preserve that is its own miniature watershed.

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In contrast to the island’s south shore that has dozens of preserved ponds and creeks, Eibs Pond is on the eastern side of Staten Island, a short drive from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

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