Map Oddities on City’s Eastern Edge

My fascination with all things GIS often brings me to take a closer look at the old maps hanging throughout NYC Parks facilities. They have so much to show for things that are no longer here, things that never got built, and the altered shorelines of the city’s waterways.

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Long before the tractors and construction cranes arrived, most of the city’s streets were mapped out in a grid pattern that demonstrated little respect for the landscape and the waterways. Continue reading

Bergen Basin, Queens

Continuing on the southeast Queens theme, here’s another hidden waterway visible to countless airplane passengers but nearly inaccessible on the ground to the public.

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Flanking the western edge of JFK International Airport, Bergen Basin has been used mainly for fuel deliveries to the airport’s massive tank farm. Prior to the construction of the airport, the highly polluted basin was an inlet of Jamaica Bay, site to a fishing community long forgotten. Continue reading

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.

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

Photo of the Week

Among the trusted sources that I’ve found in the course of research for my book is Brooklyn historian Joseph Ditta, whose Gravesend Gazette blog offers details on the history of southern Brooklyn. From his collection, here’s this week’s selected photo.

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The colonial saltbox structure is Gerritsen’s Mill on Gerritsen’s Creek in present-day Marine Park. At the time of its destruction on September 4, 1935, it was believed to be the oldest tidal mill the country.  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