We conclude our third and final season of Water Futures with a lecture from Sergey Kadinsky, author of Hidden Waters of New York City. Building on themes explored by Eric Sanderson in his lecture on the history of Bushwick Inlet, Sergey Kadinsky will reveal the history of the waterways that once ran freely through New York City.
Around the world, waterways are crucial to the growth of cities. London has the Thames, Paris has the Seine, and New York faces the Hudson River. But then there are the smaller streams that relate to individual neighborhoods, their culture, economy, and geography. Would London’s crime fiction novels be mesmerizing without the River Fleet as a recurring setting? Would medieval Moscow have developed into an imperial capital without the Neglinnaya River as its defensive moat and source of water? In Northern Ireland, the capital city of Belfast received its name from the Farset River, presently hidden in an underground culvert. These streams remain hidden for now, there is reason to hope that in the future they will reappear on the surface.
Within New York City, there are numerous watercourses with a rich history that deserves to be told and a potential for revival that could offer cultural, economic and environmental benefits for the city. In downtown Manhattan, Collect Pond Park commemorates a pond where many pivotal events took place in the first two centuries of the city’s history. In 2012, the city built a reflecting pool that evokes the park’s namesake pond. In the Bronx, the borough's eponymous river is followed by a bike path and a handful of new parks that contain reintroduced native plants and wildlife. Brooklyn's Bushwick Inlet, once the site of oil refineries and a shipyard that built the country first ironclad warship, will soon open to the public as a new waterfront park. Centuries earlier the inlet was fed by a creek that originated further inland where McCarren Park lies. Mills that damned its water provided food for the early settlers, whose descendants built the Greenpoint and Williamsburg that we know today. Further south in Brooklyn, we are witnessing the cleanup of Gowanus Canal and Coney Island Creek. On the eastern edge of the borough a new state park will soon open on the shore of Jamaica Bay, transforming a former landfill into a 413-acre public space.
Hidden Waters of New York City tells the stories of these minor waterways, how they impacted our past, their present conditions, and plans for their future.
Doors open at 6:45pm. Talk starts at 7:00pm.
Sergey Kadinsky is an analyst at the New York City Parks Department and an adjunct professor of history at Touro College. He is a contributing writer to the urban history site Forgotten-NY and paid his way through college by giving tours atop the Gray Line double-decker buses. His articles on the city appeared in New York Post, Daily News, and Queens Chronicle. He lives in Queens.
ABOUT WATER FUTURES
The A/D/O Water Futures Research Program, curated by Jane Withers, addresses and explores the drinking water crisis and asks: “How can design help address this in the future?” Our third and final season of programming, “Drink Local,” explores how designers help reimagine ways to deliver water in cities, bringing urban citizens closer to and more appreciative of the source of our water.