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.
For a few blocks on Bard Avenue, Logan’s Spring Brook weaves through yards along the road between Moody Place and Wales Place.
Where it Flows
The earliest detailed map of the brook is the 1874 J. B. Beers Atlas of Staten Island, which shows Harbor Brook flowing north on the center of the map and Logan’s Spring Brook joining it. At the time the North Shore of Staten Island was not yet developed as a suburb but its grid of streets was beginning to form. The dotted line on the western edge of the map is Bard Avenue which follows the brook.
The 1917 Bromley Atlas offers Logan’s Spring Brook at its full extent inside atlas plates 12 and 14. It shows its source as the corner of Greenwood Avenue and Forest Avenue, near the Silver Lake Reservoir. The tributary appears to be longer than Harbor Brook (within plate 13), which it merges into shortly before draining into Kill Van Kull.
Other streams on the map above include Silver Lake (plates 5 and 11), Clove Lakes (Plate 26), Palmer Run (border of plates 15 and 19; 17 and 18, running within 24, 25, 35, and 27), and Bodine Creek (plate 16)
Neighborhood names in this city change all the time. When visiting the Bard Avenue Brook, I was not sure whether I was in West New Brighton, West Brighton, Randall Manor, or Livingston. Perhaps I was in all four at the same time. Prior to 1898, the North Shore communities were within the Town of Castleton. That year it was annexed by New York City, along with the entire island.
Notice that there was a South New York on the plate 25 and 36. This was a set of paper street that were decades ahead of development. while there is only one New York City in this country, there is a West New York across the Hudson River, and East New York neighborhood in Brooklyn. North New York was a shortly-used name for the South Bronx, and South New York is better known today as the Westerleigh and Willowbrook neighborhoods.
What’s There Today
With nearly all of the land along its course developed, it wasn’t easy to trace what is left of the stream. The charming house with a porch at 234 Bard Avenue, corner of Henderson Street. As seen above in the title photo, the brook is between 234 Bard and its more recent neighbor with the white siding at 228 Bard Avenue. According to city records, 234 Bard was built in 1859.
Diagonally opposite on the Henderson and Bard intersection is the lawn of 243 Bard Avenue, where Logan’s Spring Brook is crossed by a footbridge leading to the residence. The scene appears out of a Thomas Kinkade painting. Where are the bunnies and chipmunks to skip across this lawn? Continuing upstream…
The brook is hidden in behind another home, 249 Bard Avenue, another wonder of stonework. The one-block Rokeby Place honors a family that owned land here in the early 20th century.
At 54 Rokeby Place, the brook squeezes tightly between a home and a garage. If I were to live at this address, I would keep the window open and listen to the water rushing by. One block further upstream is Moody Place, which borders on Richmond University Medical Center.
The sizable Richmond University Medical Center takes up land to the south of Moody Place. Where the brook flowed there is a parking lot and a driveway. The hospital was founded in 1903 as the 74-bed Saint Vincent’s Hospital in the former W.T. Garner mansion.
In the undated postcard above, the brook is not seen, but it flowed on the hospital grounds.
A 1917 property map shows the brook flowing around the Garner mansion. A 1924 aerial survey takes the viewer to the brook’s source at Forest Avenue. In 2007, the hospital received its current name. The Garner mansion still stands, surrounded by taller, more recent hospital buildings. There is room within the hospital property to daylight the stream by having it run through the parking lot and across lawn space.
At the Source
Initially I was unsure whether the brook along Bard Avenue ever had a name. My presumption that it is Logan’s Spring Brook is based on Charles W. Leng’s 1896 Map of Staten Island with Ye Olde Names & Nicknames by William T. Davis.
In November 1911, William T. Davis documented the exact location of Logan’s Spring within the northern tip of Silver Lake Park, on the slope of the hill containing that lake. The photo above is from the NYPL Digital Collections. When Silver Lake was expanded into a reservoir, the spring was covered and now rests below the reservoir north basin’s bottom.
Where it Ends
Old maps with paper streets often anticipated a future where such streets would effortlessly run over hidden streams. In reality, some of these streets have yet to make the crossing. Returning to the corner of Bard and Henderson and continuing downstream, one finds Wales Place interrupted mid-block by the brook.
The last street to cross over the unnamed brook is Kissel Avenue, which marks the western edge of Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden. The brook widens and across the street…
A few yards from the street, it merges with Harbor Brook. It makes a sharp turn to the left and flows north for a quarter mile, emptying into the Kill Van Kull.
Logan’s Spring Brook is a tributary of Harbor Brook. I have a detailed history of that stream on my Goodhue Pond page.
In the News:
The Villager reports on a federal judge’s ruling to cancel the permit for Pier 55 Park on the Hudson River, arguing that it violates the Clean Water Act.
New York Times reports on opposition to the city’s bioswales program.
DNAinfo reports on the Parks Department’s plan to build new waterfront parks on the bay side of the Rockaway peninsula.
Staten Island Advance reports on the Living Breakwaters project off the coast of Tottenville in Raritan Bay.
The Guardian reports on the legal personhood status bestowed on the Ganges and Yamuna rivers by a court in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. The heavily polluted rivers hold sacred status in the Hindu religion. The ruling is based on the case earlier in the week relating to the Whanganui River in New Zealand, where a court recognized its status among the indigenous Maori people.
Despite houses and structures being erected over the course of these waterways, they still find a way through.
I have fond memories of places in rural England where little trickles come together over a few feet, and suddenly there’s a little brook, wending it’s way downward to ever larger waters.
Have you ever been in towns there where streams are routed in channels next to busy roads, returning to natural stream beds when their courses take them away from humanity? I’ve seen such in Oxford and Helston, amongst others.
Again, I wish you’d have a link to a larger version of the photos you have here, so we could see more detail—especially in the maps!
The photos would be the same size if they were to open in a new window. The less space the photos take up, the less I am paying for this blog.