Bushwick Inlet, Brooklyn

On the rapidly gentrifying East River shoreline of Brooklyn, the border between the neighborhoods of Greenpoint and Williamsburg begins at Bushwick Inlet. Formerly used as an oil storage dock,  this indentation in the shoreline is in the process of being transformed into Brooklyn’s newest park. The inlet is a remnant of Bushwick Creek, which reached further inland prior to urbanization.

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After a struggle to acquire properties along its shores, the entirety of Bushwick Inlet is now assigned to the Parks Department as it prepares to transform the vacant space into a park. Continue reading

Brady’s Pond, Staten Island

Having visited Indian Pond, the entirely private waterway in the Bronx, I return to Staten Island, the borough with the most ponds. The borough has another superlative to share: the last freshwater pond in the city that has a beach for swimming.

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In the image above, the pond is seen from the eastbound service road of the Staten Island Expressway. Continue reading

Indian Pond, Bronx

In the leafy corner of northwestern Bronx is the 140-acre residential enclave of Fieldston. seemingly a village inside the city, its private streets are open to traffic, but no parking is allowed. Its homes resemble a Thomas Kinkade painting, preserved by restrictive covenants and the city’s landmarks law. It also has its private parks, including one with a pond inside it.

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This glacial pond is tucked inside a privately-owned park maintained by fees from local residents. Continue reading

Mārupīte, Riga: Part Two

In Part One of my review of Riga’s Mārupīte creek, I documented the course from its sources to Maras Dikis Pond. In Part Two, we follow the creek out of the pond as it flows to its mouth at the Daugava River.

Parks Arkadijas Darzs

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In comparing Riga to New York, I consider Bastejkalns as its Central Park, and both cities have a Forest Park. If the neighborhoods of Pardaugava (left bank of Daugava) are Riga’s answer to NYC’s outer boroughs, then Parks Arkadijas Darsz (Arcadian Garden Park) must be Kissena Park. Both parks feature hilly terrain, Victorian landscaping, and a creek flowing through its grounds.

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Mārupīte, Riga: Part One

The waterway that started my fascination with hidden urban streams is the 2.5-mile Mārupīte on the eastern side of Riga, my birthplace city. This was the stream that I’ve known since birth.

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The scene above is with my mother at Arcadian Park (Arkādijas Parks) where the Mārupīte flows through an Olmstedian landscape a couple of blocks from my grandparents’ home.

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Photos of the Week

It has been a few months since I’ve had the Photo of the Week feature relating to the waterways of the city. With a little over a week left before the show ends, I stopped to see the photography exhibit My Father’s Son at the Arsenal parks headquarters in Central Park.

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The exhibit showcases works by Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP and his late father Irwin Silver. The father’s black and white works show life in 1950s New York, while the son’s photos show the natural beauty of the city’s parks.

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Van Cortlandt Lake, Bronx

Each of New York’s flagship Olmsted-designed parks has its own pond or lake, intended for ice skating, fishing, and boating. Often these waterways predate the parks, with long natural and human histories relating to the development of neighborhoods around the parks. One such example is Van Cortlandt Lake in the Bronx.

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In the midst of the fall season, it is an ideal place to capture the sight of the foliage as it changes colors with the cooling temperatures.

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Sarkandaugava, Riga

Ten miles shy of its entry into the Baltic Sea, the Daugava River passes through the city of Riga. Within the borders of Latvia’s capital city, the nation’s great river give up some of its water to bifurcation streams before uniting again and emptying into the sea. The cradle of industry in Riga is the Sarkandaugava, a branch of the Daugava that flows around Kundziņsala, the largest island within the city’s borders.

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This hidden Riga stream flows through traces of every period in the city’s history and holds the key to its future, as the gateway to Riga for seaborne goods.

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Bowne Pond, Queens

To the north of downtown Flushing is the Korean commercial corridor on Northern Boulevard, and north of that, the suburban blocks of Broadway-Flushing, where one may still find sizable unattached homes with grassy lawns. Century-old restrictive covenants preserve the neighborhood’s historic appearance in a borough where undecorated brick boxes and glass condo towers are becoming the norm.

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In the center of this quiet neighborhood is Bowne Park, an 11.8-acre green space with a pond that was a private estate until 1925. For more than two centuries prior, it belonged to the Bowne family, which has roots in Flushing going back to John Bowne, who arrived in 1631. Continue reading

Fresh Kills at Queens Museum

This past Friday, I was invited to speak about my book before the annual investors conference for the 22nd Annual Investors conference of the NYC Municipal Water Finance Authority. It took place at Queens Museum, which coincided with Maintenance Art, an exhibit on the ecology, history, and future of Fresh Kills by Mierle Laderman Ukeles.

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The central piece of the exhibit was a model of Landing, an overlooks inside the dump-turned-park that will offer visitors a view of the city’s largest naturalistic landscape. What’s an architecture piece from Staten Island park doing at the Queens Museum? Continue reading