Huguenot Ponds, Staten Island

On the South Shore of Staten Island between Arbutus and Wolfe Creeks there is a set of ponds that are part of the larger Bluebelt system, located within private, state, and city-owned land. One such example is Huguenot Ponds in the neighborhood of Huguenot on Huguenot Avenue.

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The pond is part of the Arbutus Creek Bluebelt, a watershed that drains into Arbutus Creek. This 1.53-acre constructed wetland is an important element in the city’s effort to manage storm runoff through natural means rather than sewers.

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Verdanson, Montpellier

In the southern French region of Occitanie, the second largest city is Montpellier, located near the Mediterranean coast. Running through the city is a graffiti-covered concrete channel carrying the Verdanson River.

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Like the Los Angeles River, this concrete course sees only a trickle for much of the year, but when it rains it pours, and fills up nearly the entire basin with a torrent rushing to the sea. Continue reading

Minetta Creek’s parks, Manhattan

 

I’ve been reluctant to write too much online about Manhattan’s Minetta Creek as it is certainly the least forgotten of the city’s hidden waterways. It flows entirely under the surface these days from source to mouth, but above the surface there are many items that keep its memory alive.

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The all-but-invisible Minetta Brook was flowing in the city’s public consciousness nearly as soon as it was buried, appearing in local folklore, books, poems, magazines, and street names. Earlier this week I stumbled on a walking tour of Minetta Street where the guide allowed me to say a few words about its namesake stream.

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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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