Conference House Park, Staten Island

The borough that offers the biggest collection of hidden waterways also has the southernmost point in the state of New York at Conference House Park. Known historically as Ward’s Point, the tip of land where Arthur Kill flows into Raritan Bay has an unnamed brook that shares its location’s superlative as the state’s southernmost stream.

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The brook flows entirely within the  park, at its conclusion meeting the sea with views of South Amboy and the hills of Cheesequake State Park. Lovely name.

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Cunningham Pond, Staten Island

The largest state-owned open space on the Staten Island is a former Catholic orphanage that contains a set of freshwater ponds but the air here is salty on account of nearby Raritan Bay.

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On the grounds of the Mount Loretto Unique Area, Cunningham Road runs across the property from its thick forest to the seashore, atop an embankment that separates Cunningham Pond from Mount Loretto Pond.

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Huerva, Zaragoza

The first emperor of the Roman Empire is eternally honored with the eighth month on the calendar, but that’s not all. In the Spanish region of Aragon, the city of Zaragoza derives its name from Ceasaraugusta, a spot on the map in memory of Augustus Caesar. The city’s main river is the Ebro, which flows for 580 miles across Spain. Beneath the city’s boulevards is a tributary stream, the Huerva that briefly experienced sunlight in 2010 before it was covered up again in favor of a linear park.

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The height of the tunnel raises possibilities of underground tours here, and its narrow width also begs the question whether this stream can be daylighted after nearly a century of darkness.

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Source of Westchester Creek, Bronx

Westchester Creek is a head-scratcher for travelers as it is named after the county north of The Bronx, but doesn’t flow anywhere near it and never did. Prior to 1895, eastern Bronx was part of Westchester County and the neighborhood near this stream is named Westchester Square. This explains the stream’s name.

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The present Westchester Creek is a tidal inlet of the East River with its head at East Tremont Avenue. Prior to the 1950s, the creek flowed further inland where the Bronx Psychiatric Center and the Hutchinson Metro Center stand today. When there’s enough rainfall, a vernal pond next to this office complex hints at the phantom stream that flowed here.

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Bodine Creek barriers, Staten Island

The longest stream flowing on the North Shore of Staten Island is Bodine Creek, which flows through an Olmstedian park, then descended beneath the streets, and briefly sees daylight again before meeting the water of the ocean.

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Within Clove Lakes Park, the stream is also known as Clove Brook, descending down five manmade cascades, each of which has a unique design. The largest of these barriers is Martling Dam which has steps on it that were used for public bathing in the past.

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Moxlie Creek, Olympia

The west coast of North America between the Alaskan panhandle and the state of Washington is lined with fjords and inlets that enable ships to avoid the open waters of the Pacific Ocean. The southernmost of these waterways is Puget Sound, and at its southern tip is Olympia, capital city of Washington state. Two streams, Deschutes River, and Moxlie Creek flow into the southern reach of Puget Sound. The latter flows partially beneath the city’s streets.

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The city has a visible environmental movement whose goals include the restoration of Moxlie Creek to the surface, but with so much development atop its buried course it’s not an easy proposition. One hint of the creek’s presence is at its outfall into the East Bay of Budd Inlet, where it is seen flowing during low tide.

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Richmond Terrace Park, Staten Island

In contrast to the uninterrupted stretches of parkland on the South Shore of Staten Island, the more urbanized North Shore is still very much a working waterfront with little available space for parkland on the water’s edge. With the current city administration working to address inequality in the distribution of parks, the Nov. 26 ribbon cutting at Richmond Terrace Park opened up a new public green space on the Kill Van Kull.

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The park offers views of the waterfront that were previously blocked off to local residents. From this park, one can look north towards Newark Bay, northwest at Shooters Island, and see the hulking remnants of ships rusting away at this historically industrial stretch of Kill Van Kull.

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Hammond Creek, Bronx

On the northbound drive taking Throgs Neck Bridge, the anchorage tower rests at the tip of the bridge’s namesake, a fortress-turned-college campus. The road then runs above a cove in the Long Island Sound before landing on the Bronx mainland. Hammond Cove separates Throg’s Neck from Locust Point at the southeastern extreme of this borough.

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This tidal inlet contains a private beach and two marinas in the most suburban part of the Bronx, where single-family houses and quiet are the most defining features.

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St. Mary’s Park, Bronx

The largest park in the South Bronx has an Olmstedian terrain of hills, outcroppings, fields and woods. What is missing at St. Mary’s Park is a water feature. Considering the park’s age (1888) and size (35 acres), the question is raised whether it had a pond in the past.

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The 1934 Praeger aerial survey of the park from the Municipal Archives, shows a ridge running down its midpoint and gentle slopes on either side. The park was about to be transformed by Robert Moses who added playgrounds and sports fields to it. But then there is the flat area on its western side, at St. Ann’s Avenue and E. 147th Street.

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East Meadow Brook, Merrick

On my childhood trips from Queens to Jones Beach, my family drove on the Meadowbrook State Parkway. The highway’s 12.5-mile route runs mostly through a thickly forested landscape before the trees give way to the salt meadows of the south shore.

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The forest on the highway’s shoulders gives the impression of wilderness, but behind it are thousands of tract houses built during the 1950s suburban housing boom. Also not visible from the highway is its namesake stream, East Meadow Brook, which also shares its name with a nearby suburban community. One place where motorists can see it is at the Merrick Road cloverleaf, where it appears as a tidal inlet. Continue reading