In a ravine on the edge of Queensborough Community College in Bayside is a natural lake whose history is closely tied to the neighboring campus. Oakland Lake received its water from a natural spring and a feeder stream that originated at 223rd Place and Long Island Expressway, flowing in a ravine that widened into the lake. An outflow stream took excess water from the lake east towards Alley Creek, which emptied into Little Neck Bay.
The frozen appearance of this pond in winter conceals its depth as a glacial kettle pond. The pond serves an aesthetic purpose as a park centerpiece and functional as a storm water outlet.
In a ravine sandwiched between a house and an apartment building in the Douglaston neighborhood of Queens, there is a pond that I was not aware of when I wrote Hidden Waters of New York City. I knew that Alley Pond Park has many ponds and lakes within it, but I never knew about Old Oak Pond.
I was informed about it by local resident Kevin Walsh of Forgotten-NY. He advised to wait until the winter season when there is less vegetation blocking views of the pond, a fewer ticks. But I could not wait.
When it comes to stream restoration efforts in the New York metro region, Saw Mill River in Yonkers is the local celebrity. But inside an interchange in eastern Queens is a pond that was filled in the 1950s and restored in 2000. It lends its name to one of the largest parks in the city, a vast landscape of forests and wetlands that has its own nature center and adventure course.
In the second half of the 20th century, the view above was nothing more than a loop inside a cloverleaf interchange, later modified to allow for the reforestation of the surrounding slope and restoration of the pond. In the 21st century, if one ignores the highway noise, it has an appearance of an unspoiled landscape. Continue reading