When I am not writing about waterways, I make videos on the history of parks. Recently I published one on the State Parks of Long Island, the region of New York that sticks out into the ocean.
There are 29 state parks in total in the region of Long Island (if you include Brooklyn and Queens, it would be 33, but that’s for another video). Concerning waterways, these parks include former reservoirs, creeks, inlets, barrier islands, and the open water of the ocean. Former estates, botanical gardens, military installations, hunting clubs, and country clubs, are included in this collection of state parks. This videos is a good way to welcome the summer season.
In northern Hungary where cities are hosting thousands of refugees from neighboring Ukraine, there is the picturesque city of Miskolc. Flowing through its historic center is the Szinva river, which powered mills into the mid-19th century, occasionally caused deadly flooding, and now serves the purpose of a linear park that connects the city’s neighborhoods and hints to its rich history.
This scene is looking downstream from Szinva Terrace Park towards a tunnel at Kazinczy Ferenc Street. The streetscape here represents the spectrum of the last century that includes from the Habsburg period, the interwar kingdom, and communism with the modernist apartment tower overshadowing the stream. This terraced park was completed in 2005, representing the democratic period that began in 1989, when Hungary and its neighbors abolished one-party rule.
When I am not writing about hidden urban waters in the city of New York, I look north at other cities in this state of the same name. Having written about Albany and Buffalo, the city of Syracuse also grew with the construction of Erie Canal. This vital waterway was widened and routed north of the city center a century ago, but the city has an older waterway that connects to its Native people: Onondaga Creek.
Nearly the entire urban section of Onondaga Creek is accessible to the public by a Creekwalk path that follows the stream, such as the above photo where it flows under the Washington Street Garage.
The second largest city in the State of New York is also home to the only New York football team that has its stadium within the state. Buffalo is referenced in art and literature as the western terminus of the Erie Canal that made New York an economic powerhouse in the 19th century. At the historic end of the canal is a reconstructed inlet of Buffalo Creek that serves as a commercial and entertainment district that celebrates the impact of the canal on the city.
Looking down at Canalside from the ramp of the Buffalo Skyway, we see a dry trench spanned by three replica bowstring bridges and a children’s museum at this T-shaped canal restoration. Behind the highway viaduct this canal flows into Buffalo River which enters Lake Erie. A mile to the north of this confluence, the lake funnels into Niagara River. In the second half of the last century, the decline of industry gave this area a neglected appearance akin to Gowanus in Brooklyn pre-gentrification. In the center of the declining cityscape was the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, a sports arena that was demolished in 2009 in favor this historical-theme district. With the removal of the arena, there is talk of removing the highway to give the area a more pedestrian-friendly look.
A recent move by a friend from New York to Los Angeles inspired me to look at the hidden waterways of this West Coast City. The climate here is hot and arid for most of the year, not a city where I would feel comfortable outdoors. But it has seasonal streams that carry water from the city’s mountains and streets, most of which have been confined to concrete channels and culverts. The longest and most famous example is the Los Angeles River, which has its conservancy groups and is undergoing restoration efforts.
The Dominguez Channel on the city’s south side isn’t as famous, and only a small portion of it flows through Los Angeles, which has a narrow panhandle extending south to its harbor. Most of this stream is within the smaller cities of Inglewood, Hawthorne, Gardena, Torrance, and Carson, before emptying into Los Angeles Harbor.
Some of Long Island’s hidden streams flow through state parks (Valley Stream), and others flow alongside highways that share the name (Meadowbrook). But a truly hidden stream doesn’t have such counterparts to put in on the map. This is the story of Milburn Creek, which flows for three and a half miles on the south shore of Nassau County. Along the way, it flows past the backyards of Roosevelt, Baldwin, and Freeport.
In this scene near the headwaters of the creek, we are looking upstream at Westbrook Lane and Brookside Avenue on the border of Roosevelt and Baldwin. The stream emerges a block to the north where the eastbound ramp of the Southern State Parkway touches on Brookside Avenue.
Having written previously about Pine Stream and Mill River that flow through the suburban community of West Hempstead, there is a third hidden waterway here that begins its course alongside a train station that may have been named after this stream, or perhaps not.
This very obscure stream appears on the surface in a ravine next to the Lakeview station on the West Hempstead Branch, looking south from Eagle Avenue, which crosses this single-track line at the source of the stream. The sources of this stream have been paved over and developed as tract homes marched across this landscape of gardens and farms. Water appears here only after a substantial rainfall. Lakeview is not an official village, and most letters addressed to this community have it as part of West Hempstead, itself not an official village but part of the larger town of Hempstead. So the question here is whether Lakeview is named for a long-forgotten pond on Schodack Brook, or the much larger Hempstead Lake that is a ten-minute walk east of this station?
On Long Island, there are various units of local government: villages, towns, and cities. A town can have more people than a city. These are merely legal designations bestowed by the state to describe the responsibilities of a municipality. Cities tend to have more say in their governance, and control over schools and utilities. One such city is Glen Cove, built at the head of an inlet on Hempstead Bay in 1668. That inlet is Glen Cove Creek, fed by a stream that originates further inland. In the downtown of Glen Cove that stream is hidden beneath a parking lot.
In recent years plans have been made to transform the tidal section of the creek into an upscale residential district, but the underground section remains hidden from the attention of urban planners. The creek has a boxy ferry terminal with a sail-shaped window that seeks to offer future commuter service to Manhattan and Connecticut.
The largest city in the western third of Massachusetts has one of the most common names among American places: Springfield, and much of its history is the result of a stream with a very generic name: Mill River. This Springfield happens to be the first in the country to have this name, although I’m not as sure about Mill River.
In F. Scott FitzGerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby, West Egg is the pseudonym for Great Neck and the much more upscale peninsula facing it is East Egg, which in reality is Manhasset, a collection of villages jutting into the Long Island Sound. hidden behind the mansions are brooks and ponds whose names relate to past landowners and their once-sizable estates overlooking Manhasset Bay.
The Leeds Pond Preserve, originally built as the Norwood farm and owned by the Sizer family, was purchased by Herman Goldman, a prominent maritime attorney and tax expert, as a retreat to entertain friends and family.