On the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the natural contour of the island is evident in the valleys at 125th Street, 106th Street, and 96th Street. In the last one of these, Riverside Drive takes a viaduct above 96th Street and an eponymous neighborhood organization remembers the reason why West End Avenue here takes a dip on its way north and then rises again.
Another clue is William Rickaby Miller’s 1869 watercolor on paper titled Strykers Bay. In this painting we see an unnamed brook flowing towards the Hudson River with the Palisades of New Jersey in the background. This obscure stream is today’s West 96th Street.
Deep inside the upscale Riverdale section of the Bronx is a private subdivision with two ponds that recall its former landowner. The ponds can be viewed by traveling downhill on West 246th Street to the west of Independence Avenue.
Here, the street curves and descends downhill towards the Hudson River. Delafield Way branches off to the left with the ponds located behind a guard booth at the entrance to the Delafield Estates development.
Among the most helpful Twitter accounts that relates to New York City history is @Discovering_NYC, run by a local tour guide who shares old photos, maps, and illustrations of the city’s past. Over the weekend, it posted a map of Lispenard’s Meadow, the long-forgotten wetland in what is now the Tribeca neighborhood of lower Manhattan.
At the turn of the 19th century, the meadow was on the northern periphery of New York City. Above is an 1800 illustration of the meadow by Alexander Anderson, looking towards the Hudson River. It contained three creeks within it, occluding one that drained from Collect Pond. That creek became the route of Canal Street.
An early steamboat experiment
Throughout history for every inventor credited for creating something, there are unsung inventors in their shadows who lacked the money or failed to file a patent to make their work official.
Who ever heard of a steamboat in Manhattan’s long-buried Collect Pond that predated Robert Fulton’s boat by a decade? Continue reading
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.
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
What inspired me to write a book about the hidden waterways within New York City? Read on… (more…)