Fountain Avenue Landfill, Brooklyn

In an unexpected start for 2018, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday a proposal to create a 407-acre State Park in Brooklyn. My first reaction was in line with the city’s independent spirit: “Do we really need more State Parks, state troopers and state tourism road signs within the city’s borders?” My second reaction was, “Here we go again, the Governor and the Mayor’s rivalry is now a literal turf war with a State Park inside the city.” My third and final reaction was, “Where in Brooklyn is there a 407-acre expanse of undeveloped land that can become a park?”

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Reading the governor’s 2018 State of the State address, the park would encompass the Fountain Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue landfills in southeastern Brooklyn. In the photo above these two mounds are separated by Hendrix Creek.

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Water Garden, Brooklyn

On my previous visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, I reported on its historic Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. From this exotic-looking lake, a constructed brook flows through the garden through the Bluebell Wood, Rock Garden, Plant Family Collection, and the Water Garden. At its terminus, the stream first enters a forebay pond before pooling in the Water Garden pond.

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Completed in 2016, the Water Garden pond provides an environmentally sustainable solution for managing the garden’s flow of water. It was designed by prolific landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh, whose works can be found across the country, incorporating waterways into postmodern park landscapes. Above is a photo of Tupelo Point which juts into the pond.

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Vaipito Stream, Pago Pago

In my Out of Town feature, I hadn’t yet featured a hidden urban waterway in the Oceania part of the world. In the southern hemisphere so far, I’ve only written about Tank Stream in Sydney, Australia. After a careful search, I’ve zoomed in on the only American territory on this half of the globe, American Samoa. Its capital Pago Pago is conveniently situated at the head of a harbor which collects water from a dozen streams. The one with the largest watershed is the 1.7-mile Vaipito Stream.

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I can’t imagine when I would have the opportunity to visit Pago Pago. Fortunately Google Maps took its car and camera there in 2014. Above is a view of Vaipito looking downstream from Route One.

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Brookfield Park, Staten Island

On December 12, 2017, NYC Parks celebrated its 30,000th acre with the opening of Brookfield Park on Staten Island. This 287-acre property is a former landfill transformed into a hilly prairie landscape overlooking Richmond Creek. For the purposes of this blog, I traveled to this new park in search of the brook for which Brookfield may be named.

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A day after its official opening this 258-acre park still had an “authorized personnel only” kind of feel. Not too many bikes or joggers to be found here on a snowy morning.

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Logan’s Spring Brook, Staten Island

Back in March 2017, I documented the brook flowing along Bard Avenue on the North Shore of Staten Island. At the time I wrote that its furthest place aboveground was at Moody Place, which borders on Richmond University Medical Center. A tip from a colleague at Parks sent me further upstream where I found another piece of Logan’s Spring Brook in open view.

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This piece of Logan’s Spring Brook can be seen from the north side of Castleton Avenue between Walbrooke and Kissel Avenues. It flows in an alley then disappears below Castleton Avenue.

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Altamont Ponds, Staten Island

On the ridge overlooking Raritan Bay and the Atlantic Ocean is a set of connected parks, the Staten Island Greenbelt. High Rock Park is regarded by the Parks Department as the “buckle” of the Greenbelt. The park has its natural ponds, and not all of them have names.

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Two such ponds are at the southern edge of High Rock Park, separated by the unused Altamont House. For the purpose of this post, I’ll call them Altamont Ponds.

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Banzer’s Pond, Queens

In the cemetery belt that straddles the Brooklyn-Queens border there were a few glacial kettle ponds that were filled, one by one, to make way for more burials, and for the Jackie Robinson Parkway that sliced through the graveyards in 1927. One such waterway was Banzer’s Pond, whose disappearance has not been extensively documented.

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The above photo comes from The East New York Project, an encyclopedic history source for this corner of Brooklyn. The pond here is possibly shown in 1916, when it hosted a popular amusement center run by its namesake family.

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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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