Northern Ponds, Bronx

When the Bronx Zoo was developed at the turn of the 20th century, its design was considered innovative as it preserved much of its natural terrain, giving many of the animals room to roam at a time when many zoos kept their exhibits in tight cages. The preservation of the landscape enabled the Bronx River to flow freely through the zoo, and retained some of the ponds and brooks within the zoo for the enjoyment of the animals.

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Among these waterways are the Northern Ponds and the brook that sends the water downstream from these ponds into the Bronx River.

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Starlight Park, Bronx

Among the recent parks completed on the tidal section of the Bronx River is one reminiscent of a Madonna song, new and at the same time with a history that includes a stint as an amusement park and a failed World’s Fair. Starlight Park occupies a narrow space between the Bronx River and Sheridan Expressway, with the 174th Street Bridge crossing over the park.

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It is at once a calm space by the river that abuts two expressways in the densely populated center of the borough. Continue reading

Cope Lake, Bronx Zoo

When the Bronx Zoo was developed at the turn of the 20th century, its design was considered innovative as it preserved much of its natural terrain, giving many of the animals room to roam at a time when many zoos kept their exhibits in tight cages. The preservation of the landscape enabled the Bronx River to flow freely through the zoo, and retained some of the ponds and brooks within the zoo for the enjoyment of the animals.

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One such waterway is Cope Lake, located near the northern border of the zoo by Fordham Road. Continue reading

Bronx Zoo Boathouse

I recently found a postcard that shows a boathouse on the Bronx River but had no idea where this boathouse stood. By its appearance, it is a counterpart to the boathouses of Central Park and Prospect Park but while those parks are also located at the centers of their respective boroughs, most of Bronx Park is not an open park. For more than a century, its land was set aside for the Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Garden.

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So if this boathouse was within the park, what happened to it and what’s there today? Continue reading

Mosholu Parkway, Bronx

As mentioned before, many of the city’s expressways and parkways were built atop or alongside waterways as their shorelines were usually undeveloped and less steep than the surrounding landscapes. The parkway is a New York institution, pioneered by Olmsted as a road lined with generous parkland on either side, shielding neighborhoods from traffic, creating green space for local residents, and a visually pleasant setting for travelers.

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Mosholu Parkway‘s name is believed to originate from the Lenape term for “smooth stones” in reference to a stream. Did a brook ever flow on the path of this parkway? Continue reading

River Park, Bronx

On its course through the borough that shares its name, the Bronx river passes through a variety of landscapes ranging from the dense forests of Bronx Park, to the postindustrial shoreline along its tidal section. Between these two elements is the neighborhood of West Farms, where the stream flows through a tight series of rapids between the Bronx Zoo and Starlight Park.

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Here we have what appears to be a waterfall in the heart of the Bronx. The view is looking north from 180th Street. Continue reading

Photo of the Week

Earlier this week, the New York Public Library released to the public nearly 187,000 free images. Searching in the database for materials on New York City’s hidden waterways, there is plenty to see and it will take time for me to select images that are worth sharing on my topic.

In the meantime, I’ve looked at other government agency collections for photos on the city’s streams and came across this gem from the Library of Congress. bx riv 1

It’s in the Boogie Down Borough, but where? Continue reading

Hidden Urban Waters of 2015

In journalism, the week of December 31 is often described as the slowest news week of the year. Editors and reporters fill in the blank spaces of newspapers with year in review articles, in case you forgot or missed the stories that left their impact on history.

On the topic of my book, cities around the world are rediscovering their hidden waters through art, architecture and ambitious daylighting projects. Below is a sampling of such stories.

Guangzhou, China

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The Donghao Chung, once an ancient moat, and later a sewer, has been daylighted and transformed into a linear park reminiscent of Cheonggyecheon in Seoul. Like its Korean counterpart, the stream spent much of the past century hidden beneath the surface, with a busy roadway running atop its course.

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Hello From the Other Side… of the River

You may have noticed that in yesterday’s post, the hyperlink for River Lea, the forgotten stream in London, England, links to a song by top-selling vocalist Adele.

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She represents a long tradition of artists inspired by hidden urban streams. Here in New York City, there are two streams that appear in poetry which I would like to share, along with a few recent examples. Continue reading

For Your Hidden Waters Bookshelf

When the authors of The Other Islands of New York City offered acknowledgements to other authors who touched on the same topic, their caption read, “No Author is an Island.” Matching their pun with the city’s urban streams, I would offer the following “tributaries.” These are books on individual waterways which I used as sources and inspirations for my book, which covers all of the city’s hidden streams.

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The above book by photographer Anthony Hamboussi is one of many that traveled along the course of Newtown Creek, documenting the industrial waterway on the Brooklyn-Queens border. Continue reading