Szinva, Miskolc

In northern Hungary where cities are hosting thousands of refugees from neighboring Ukraine, there is the picturesque city of Miskolc. Flowing through its historic center is the Szinva river, which powered mills into the mid-19th century, occasionally caused deadly flooding, and now serves the purpose of a linear park that connects the city’s neighborhoods and hints to its rich history.

This scene is looking downstream from Szinva Terrace Park towards a tunnel at Kazinczy Ferenc Street. The streetscape here represents the spectrum of the last century that includes from the Habsburg period, the interwar kingdom, and communism with the modernist apartment tower overshadowing the stream. This terraced park was completed in 2005, representing the democratic period that began in 1989, when Hungary and its neighbors abolished one-party rule.

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Fordham Landing, Bronx

Running from west to east, Fordham Road runs through busy shopping districts, the university that shares its name, and at Bronx Park the road continues east as Pelham Parkway. At its western tip Fordham Road continues into Manhattan with University Heights Bridge. Before the bridge was built, there was Fordham Landing, a dock on the Harlem River whose name will reappear on the map as the shoreline undergoes a transformation.

The site of Fordham Landing has remnants of the dock where ferries landed before the bridge opened in 1908. The cove here is polluted with runoff and trash. As the opposite shore in Manhattan experiences restoration, eventually the Bronx side of the Harlem River will also have a cleaner future.

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Onondaga Creek, Syracuse

When I am not writing about hidden urban waters in the city of New York, I look north at other cities in this state of the same name. Having written about Albany and Buffalo, the city of Syracuse also grew with the construction of Erie Canal. This vital waterway was widened and routed north of the city center a century ago, but the city has an older waterway that connects to its Native people: Onondaga Creek.

Nearly the entire urban section of Onondaga Creek is accessible to the public by a Creekwalk path that follows the stream, such as the above photo where it flows under the Washington Street Garage.

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Lew Fidler Park, Brooklyn

The spot where Emmons Avenue becomes the eastbound ramp to the Belt Parkway, where Sheepshead Bay ends and Plumb Beach begins has one of New York’s newest playgrounds, named after a popular local politician. It marks a scenic start to the Jamaica Bay Greenway, a bike route that runs along the northern side of this lagoon.

From the playground’s highest point looking south, we see Sheepshead Bay widening onto the Rockaway Inlet. The tip of Kingsborough Community College is across the bay and in the background is Breezy Point. Behind it is the open water of the Atlantic Ocean.

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Canalside, Buffalo

The second largest city in the State of New York is also home to the only New York football team that has its stadium within the state. Buffalo is referenced in art and literature as the western terminus of the Erie Canal that made New York an economic powerhouse in the 19th century. At the historic end of the canal is a reconstructed inlet of Buffalo Creek that serves as a commercial and entertainment district that celebrates the impact of the canal on the city.

Looking down at Canalside from the ramp of the Buffalo Skyway, we see a dry trench spanned by three replica bowstring bridges and a children’s museum at this T-shaped canal restoration. Behind the highway viaduct this canal flows into Buffalo River which enters Lake Erie. A mile to the north of this confluence, the lake funnels into Niagara River. In the second half of the last century, the decline of industry gave this area a neglected appearance akin to Gowanus in Brooklyn pre-gentrification. In the center of the declining cityscape was the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, a sports arena that was demolished in 2009 in favor this historical-theme district. With the removal of the arena, there is talk of removing the highway to give the area a more pedestrian-friendly look.

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Astoria Park, Queens

The largest park on the east side of the East River is Astoria Park, located between the Triboro (RFK) and Hell Gate bridges. It has the largest outdoor pool in the city but shortly after the park was created, there was a highly unrealistic plan to give this park a bathing beach. Under the noise of the two bridges, the public can swim, use the running tack, tennis courts, playground, and lawn, among other amenities.

Until recently, the park’s relationship to the East River was overshadowed by the massive pool and Shore Road that runs along the water’s edge. With the pedestrianization of this road, the public has easier access to the shoreline where the turbulent current of Hell Gate can be observed.

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The Pool, Manhattan

Montayne’s Rivulet, the only natural water course within Central Park that was preserved and repurposed, is fed by The Pool. This artificial lake is a flooded ravine located in the northwest corner of the park near W. 101st Street. It has a naturalistic appearance that has its most colorful look in autumn.

Around this lake there are brooks flowing into it that emerge from pipes concealed under rocks to appear as springs. Prior to the development of Central Park, the rivulet has its sources across Central Park West, in the Upper West Side neighborhood.

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Bayswater Point, Queens

At the eastern end of Jamaica Bay, where the Rockaway Peninsula widens into the mainland of Long Island is one of New York’s smallest and least developed State Parks. At 12 acres of wetland, shoreline and lawns, Bayswater Point State Park seems like an unexpected member of a family that includes Niagara Falls, Bear Mountain, and Montauk Point.

The park is one of more than a dozen along Jamaica Bay that are managed by the city, state, Nassau County, and the National Parks Service. This park was previously a private estate that was given to the public in the will of its last owner and then purchased by the state.

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Dominguez Channel, Los Angeles

A recent move by a friend from New York to Los Angeles inspired me to look at the hidden waterways of this West Coast City. The climate here is hot and arid for most of the year, not a city where I would feel comfortable outdoors. But it has seasonal streams that carry water from the city’s mountains and streets, most of which have been confined to concrete channels and culverts. The longest and most famous example is the Los Angeles River, which has its conservancy groups and is undergoing restoration efforts.

The Dominguez Channel on the city’s south side isn’t as famous, and only a small portion of it flows through Los Angeles, which has a narrow panhandle extending south to its harbor. Most of this stream is within the smaller cities of Inglewood, Hawthorne, Gardena, Torrance, and Carson, before emptying into Los Angeles Harbor.

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Stapleton Waterfront Park, Staten Island

A former short-lived naval port was returned to the city in 1994 and nearly two decades a new waterfront park opened in the Stapleton neighborhood of Staten Island where a hidden waterway used to flow into the harbor. In contrast to its southern shore, the side of Staten Island that faces Brooklyn does not have a long string of parks. This Stapleton Waterfront Park is part of a larger effort citywide to open the waterfront to the public.

In this view, we see an inlet where stormwater from the streets flows out into the harbor. As with many coves and inlets on the city’s shoreline, the one at Stapleton Waterfront Park hints to a creek that originated nearly a mile inland from this park.

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