When the authors of The Other Islands of New York City offered acknowledgements to other authors who touched on the same topic, their caption read, “No Author is an Island.” Matching their pun with the city’s urban streams, I would offer the following “tributaries.” These are books on individual waterways which I used as sources and inspirations for my book, which covers all of the city’s hidden streams.
The above book by photographer Anthony Hamboussi is one of many that traveled along the course of Newtown Creek, documenting the industrial waterway on the Brooklyn-Queens border.
The Arcadia Publishing series Images of America has two books on local streams, both written by residents on Queens. For the East River, Greater Astoria Historical Society teamed up with Thomas Jackson, Erik Baard, and Richard Melnick, taking us back in time with its extensive collection of photographs. For Jamaica Bay, former Queens Chronicle editor Dan Hendrick takes readers to the waterway that separates the Rockaway Peninsula from the mainland of Queens.
For the city’s only freshwater river, the one which divides the Bronx into eastern and western halves, there are two books.
Earlier this year, tour guide Alex Alexiou took readers on a historical tour of Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal, writing the most authoritative book on the stream, from its pre-colonial past to its likely future as a linear park. Hans Knudsen was there in 2006, offering poetic prose on the stream.
Although the two books above relate mostly to the Manhattan coastline on the not-so-hidden East and Hudson Rivers, I found these two books useful in making my text about hidden streams as appealing as those about the city’s two best-known streams.
Again, the Manhattan shoreline is far from forgotten, being documented in great detail by Cy Adler’s Shorewalkers, photographer Laura Rosen, and novelist Phillip Lopate, much of it is separated from the adjoining neighborhoods by highways such as the FDR Drive and the West Side Highway. After walking the shore of Manhattan and cruising around it on the Circle Line, I did my own “shorewalking” in Queens: at Astoria’s north shore, College Point, Whitestone to Fort Totten, and Fort Schuyler in the Bronx.
Exploring beyond New York City, perhaps the most famous urban stream in the United States is the Los Angeles River, site of numerous film shoots in a city of film stars.
That’s all for now.