In the shadow of Queensborough Bridge is a ten-acre waterfront park tucked between the bridge, public housing, and a power plant. Queensbridge Park is one of seven unconnected parks on the western shore of Queens facing Manhattan.
The water’s edge here is riprap, rocks deposited along a seawall to reduce erosion from waves and currents. These rocks were dropped here in 2014 after the seawall suffered damage from Hurricane Sandy in late 2012. As is the case with much of the East River facing Manhattan, the shoreline is almost perfectly straight, resembling a canal rather than a tidal strait.
In contrast to the shoreline of Manhattan, which is almost entirely ringed by a connected series of parks, the western shore of Queens has parks separated by power plants and other public utilities, preventing an uninterrupted walk on the water’s edge.
Rainey Park is sizable but not so visible among the shoreline parks on account of its location and seemingly empty appearance.
Its name appears on a popular tavern in Long Island City and despite its “sunny” name, it is nowhere to be seen on the surface. On a recent visit to Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria, my daughter stumbled on a sizable puddle in the park that lingers long after the rain is gone.
This puddle is as ephemeral as the sculptures in the park, but it may carry the spirit of Sunswick, the waterway that flowed across this site on its way to the East River at Hallets Cove.
This week’s selected photo hangs on the wall at the Greater Astoria Historical Society in Queens.
The view looks north towards Bowery Bay from the community of Steinway, a “company town” in northern Astoria. A convenient old map matches the 1869 landscape above. Berrian’s Island is on the far left while Rikers Island is on the far right. Continue reading
Along the course of East River, there are numerous indentations in its coastline that indicate former and existing streams that flowed into it. This week’s selected photo is a Fairchild Aerial survey of Long Island City, found in the NYPL Digital Collections.
It looks familiar but the tip of Long Island City is very industrial and low-rise, predating the condo towers by nearly 90 years. Near the edge of the industrial district was a 500-foot inlet puncturing the shore for nearly one city block. This is the story of Anable Basin. Continue reading
Among the streams of New York, city and state, there are plenty of names that hearken back to the region’s first colonial masters. Examples include Gerritsen Creek, Kill Van Kull, Arthur Kill, Harlem River, Collect Pond, and Spuyten Duyvil. In Queens, an inlet of Newtown Creek makes the colonial connection quite plain. Its name is Dutch Kills.
This week’s selected photo comes from the 1921 publication The Newtown Creek industrial district of New York City By Merchants’ Association of New York. Industrial Bureau. The photo was taken from the Loose Wiles Biscuit Company, presently Building C of LaGuardia Community College. It is the head of Dutch Kills at 47th Avenue and 28th Street. In its natural state, the inlet was a creek that had its headwaters further inland.
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.
Here are a few New York City watering holes named after… long-buried watering holes. Continue reading