If every school, street, park, and waterway had a sign explaining its namesake, the public would have a better understanding of their local history and how these points of the map became a feature of their lives. Earlier this month, a historical sign was installed at Hartmann’s Pond in Amityville, a village on Long Island near the Nassau-Suffolk county line.
The pond is the centerpiece of the largest park in the village, a green space that was used for industry more than a century ago. The rest of Amityville Creek is much less visible as it flows between backyards and underneath apartment buildings and parking lots.
When I am not writing about waterways, I make videos on the history of parks. Recently I published one on the State Parks of Long Island, the region of New York that sticks out into the ocean.
There are 29 state parks in total in the region of Long Island (if you include Brooklyn and Queens, it would be 33, but that’s for another video). Concerning waterways, these parks include former reservoirs, creeks, inlets, barrier islands, and the open water of the ocean. Former estates, botanical gardens, military installations, hunting clubs, and country clubs, are included in this collection of state parks. This videos is a good way to welcome the summer season.
Some of Long Island’s hidden streams flow through state parks (Valley Stream), and others flow alongside highways that share the name (Meadowbrook). But a truly hidden stream doesn’t have such counterparts to put in on the map. This is the story of Milburn Creek, which flows for three and a half miles on the south shore of Nassau County. Along the way, it flows past the backyards of Roosevelt, Baldwin, and Freeport.
In this scene near the headwaters of the creek, we are looking upstream at Westbrook Lane and Brookside Avenue on the border of Roosevelt and Baldwin. The stream emerges a block to the north where the eastbound ramp of the Southern State Parkway touches on Brookside Avenue.
Having written previously about Pine Stream and Mill River that flow through the suburban community of West Hempstead, there is a third hidden waterway here that begins its course alongside a train station that may have been named after this stream, or perhaps not.
This very obscure stream appears on the surface in a ravine next to the Lakeview station on the West Hempstead Branch, looking south from Eagle Avenue, which crosses this single-track line at the source of the stream. The sources of this stream have been paved over and developed as tract homes marched across this landscape of gardens and farms. Water appears here only after a substantial rainfall. Lakeview is not an official village, and most letters addressed to this community have it as part of West Hempstead, itself not an official village but part of the larger town of Hempstead. So the question here is whether Lakeview is named for a long-forgotten pond on Schodack Brook, or the much larger Hempstead Lake that is a ten-minute walk east of this station?
On Long Island, there are various units of local government: villages, towns, and cities. A town can have more people than a city. These are merely legal designations bestowed by the state to describe the responsibilities of a municipality. Cities tend to have more say in their governance, and control over schools and utilities. One such city is Glen Cove, built at the head of an inlet on Hempstead Bay in 1668. That inlet is Glen Cove Creek, fed by a stream that originates further inland. In the downtown of Glen Cove that stream is hidden beneath a parking lot.
In recent years plans have been made to transform the tidal section of the creek into an upscale residential district, but the underground section remains hidden from the attention of urban planners. The creek has a boxy ferry terminal with a sail-shaped window that seeks to offer future commuter service to Manhattan and Connecticut.