Newtown Creek

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Coordinates: 40°44′14″N 73°57′40″W / 40.73734°N 73.96112°W / 40.73734; -73.96112
Newtown Creek
Estuary
LIC-NewtownCreek.JPG
The Creek in Long Island City
Country United States
State New York
Municipality New York City
Tributaries
 - left English Kills, Whale Creek
 - right Maspeth Creek, Dutch Kills
Source Grand Avenue and 47th Street
 - coordinates 40°43′06″N 73°55′27″W / 40.718412°N 73.924127°W / 40.718412; -73.924127
Mouth East River
 - location 2nd Street and 54th Avenue in Long Island City
 - elevation 0 ft (0 m)
 - coordinates 40°44′14″N 73°57′40″W / 40.73734°N 73.96112°W / 40.73734; -73.96112
Length 3.5 mi (6 km)
Discharge
 - average 59.3 cu ft/s (2 m3/s)
Newtown Creek and its tributaries

Newtown Creek is a 3.5-mile (6-kilometer) long estuary that forms part of the border between the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, in New York City, New York, United States. It derives its name from New Town (Nieuwe Stad), which was the name for the Dutch and British settlement in what is now Elmhurst, Queens. Channelization made it one of the most heavily used bodies of water in the Port of New York and New Jersey and thus one of the most polluted industrial sites in America,[1] containing years of discarded toxins, an estimated 30 million US gallons (110,000 m3) of spilled oil, and raw sewage from New York City’s sewer system, known as the Greenpoint oil spill.[1] Newtown Creek was proposed as a potential Superfund site in September 2009,[2] and received that designation on September 27, 2010.[3]

Course[edit]

The creek begins near the intersection of 47th Street and Grand Avenue on the Brooklyn-Queens border 40°43′06″N 73°55′27″W / 40.718412°N 73.924127°W / 40.718412; -73.924127 at the intersection of the East Branch and English Kills.[4] It empties into the East River at 40°44′14″N 73°57′40″W / 40.73734°N 73.96112°W / 40.73734; -73.96112 (2nd Street and 54th Avenue in Long Island City) opposite Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan at 26th Street. Its waterfront, and that of its tributaries Dutch Kills, Whale Creek, Maspeth Creek and English Kills, are heavily industrialized.

Because the surrounded neighborhoods are completely sewerized, the creek has little natural inflow. Its outgoing flow of 14 billion US gallons (53,000,000 m3)/year consists of combined sewer overflow, urban runoff, raw domestic sewage, and industrial wastewater. The creek is largely stagnant, one cause is the 15-foot-thick (4.6 m) layer of polluted sludge that has congealed on the creek bed.[1]

Aerial photograph of Newtown Creek (2013). View looking east.
Mouth of the Creek, seen from Pulaski Bridge. Manhattan Avenue Bridge formerly connected Manhattan Avenue on the left bank to Vernon Boulevard
Whale Creek side of Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant digester tanks
Newtown Creek from the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge

History[edit]

Before the nineteenth century urbanization and industrialization of the surrounding neighborhoods, Newtown Creek was a longer and shallower tidal waterway, and wide enough that it contained islands. It drained parts of what are now the neighborhoods of Bushwick, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint in Brooklyn; and Maspeth, Ridgewood, Sunnyside, and Long Island City in Queens. During the second half of the nineteenth century it became a major industrial waterway, bounded along most of its length by retaining walls, the shipping channel maintained by dredging. The Montauk Branch of the Long Island Rail Road, mainly a freight line, runs along the north bank.

In 1978, a United States Coast Guard helicopter on a routine patrol discovered the Greenpoint oil spill.

In 1998, the city started a program to expand the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, now the city's largest sewage treatment facility, which is located on the south bank near the creek's mouth in Greenpoint. Construction is expected to be completed in 2014. The plant's unusual aesthetics, especially its 140 foot (42 meter) tall metallic "digester eggs" which are illuminated at night with blue lights, have made it a local landmark. In part to appease neighborhood residents who initially opposed the plant's expansion, the City of New York built a nature walk alongside Newtown Creek just outside the plant's perimeter in 2009.[5][6] Later the North Brooklyn Boat Club built a boatyard to allow access to the creek.[7]

In 2007, residents of Greenpoint, Brooklyn and the New York State Attorney General's Office filed lawsuits regarding the Greenpoint oil spill, a discharge lasting decades that spilled three times the oil of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.[8] On September 27, 2010, the United States Environmental Protection Agency designated Newtown Creek as a Superfund site, preparing the way for evaluation and environmental remediation of the stream. Environment advocacy groups supported the decision.[9]

Bridges[edit]

Newtown Creek is crossed by the Pulaski Bridge (replacing the Vernon Avenue Bridge in the 1950s), the J. J. Byrne Memorial Bridge or Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, and the Kosciuszko Bridge, which carries the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. Some of the bridges that cross it and its tributaries are named for the street that they carry, such as Grand Street Bridge and Metropolitan Avenue Bridge.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Newtown Creek Clean-Up Efforts". The City Concealed. Thirteen (WNET.org). 2008-12-12. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  2. ^ "Newtown Creek Superfund Site". U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  3. ^ Navarro, Mireya (2010-09-27). "Newtown Creek Is Declared a Superfund Site". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-09-27. 
  4. ^ "Newtown Creek Alliance". Newtown Creek Alliance. Retrieved 2010-02-21. [dead link]
  5. ^ "The Newtown Creek Nature Walk (flyer)". New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  6. ^ Korman, Benjamin (2011-09-01). "Nature Does Not Knock". 7STOPS. Retrieved 2011-09-18. 
  7. ^ "A Dream On Its Way to Reality: The Greenpoint Boathouse & Environmental Education Center" Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning (GWAPP), October 1, 2012, Retrieved July 28, 2013 http://gwapp.org/2012/10/a-dream-on-its-way-to-reality-the-greenpoint-boathouse-environmental-education-center/
  8. ^ Walker, Dalton (July 19, 2007). "Exxon Mobil Cleanup Effort Continues on Brooklyn Spill". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
  9. ^ "US adds industrialized NYC creek to Superfund list". Business Week. Associated Press. 2009-09-28. Retrieved 2010-09-28. 

External links[edit]