The City’s Unbuilt Canals

As today is the day of April fools, I would like to share two outlandish proposals that would have dramatically affected the landscape of Queens.


Imagine a canal running on the route of Van Wyck Expressway connecting Flushing Meadows with Jamaica Bay. Continue reading

Gowanus Canal’s Map Man

“People should care about their backyards. The moment you make a connection to home, you start caring.” –Eymund Diegel, TEDxGowanus featured speaker.

In the cast that involves New York City’s hidden streams, there are many characters who play vital roles in telling the story of a stream. For Gowanus Canal, you have the swimmer, the poet, the documentary filmmaker, the historian, and if I had to audition for a role, I would be the tour guide.

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But when it comes to the most important character in this drama, it would be the urban planner, an individual whose research incorporates the topography, hydrology, biology, geology, demographics, zoning codes, history and maps into consideration when laying out a vision for Gowanus Canal.

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In effect, the living encyclopedia for this stream is Eymund Diegel. Continue reading

Watering Holes: Pubs named for Hidden Streams

Perhaps it is their desire to connect to a distant past and to appear as established neighborhood institutions that new pubs and taverns in New York City choose to adopt the names of long-buried streams as their names. Perhaps there’s an unwritten tradition in pub naming that results in the revival of certain streams on the map.

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Here are a few New York City watering holes named after… long-buried watering holes. Continue reading

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