Four Sparrow Marsh, Brooklyn

On the western landing of the Mill Basin Bridge on Belt Parkway, one may notice a sizable wetland bound by the highway, Mill Basin, and Flatbush Avenue. It is home to four rare bird species: the Saltmarsh, Song, Swamp, and Savannah sparrows, resulting in its name, the Four Sparrow Marsh.

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With Kings Plaza shopping center to its north and the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge to its south, Four Sparrow Marsh has been a contented ground between advocates of commerce and natural preservation.

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Twin Ponds, Queens

In preparation for my upcoming lecture at King Manor Museum on April 17, here’s another hidden southeast Queens waterway. Twin Ponds today are hidden behind thick vegetation along a shoulder of the Belt Parkway in the Laurelton neighborhood.

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Prior to 1954 when the parkway was widened, the ponds were a popular ice skating venue, and prior to that they supplied water to the residents of eastern Queens and Brooklyn. Continue reading

Photo of the Week

You may have noticed that in the course (pun intended) of my research, I am particularly fascinated with the sources of streams. For this week’s selected photo, the head of Coney Island Creek appears for the first time, at Shell Road and Belt Parkway. Prior to 1936, it didn’t have a head as it was an inlet separating Coney Island from the mainland of Brooklyn.

ci creek head

The photo was taken on November 13, 1936 and can be found in the NYPL Collection. Funding for this bulkhead project was provided by the WPA as a Depression-period public works project. Although nearly a mile of Coney Island Creek has been filled and Coney is no longer a true island, in many ways it still feels like one.  Continue reading