The Hole: Cowboys and Bodies in Brooklyn/Queens

The Hole, a section of Lindenwood along the Brooklyn-Queens border, could be an extremely unflattering name, except that the area truly is a hole: the land is 30 feet below grade, meaning the area is marshy in places and homes are built only a few feet above the water table, so they must use cesspools instead of the municipal sewer system. Nathan Kensinger compiled a photo essay of this neighborhood, which is famous for bodies and for horses: bodies because it was an old mob dumping ground, and horses because they used to roam the fields of The Hole. Some horses still reside there, as does The Federation of Black Cowboys. Kensinger’s essay captures a piece of New York that is both ancient and timeless, and it reminds us how diverse the land is within the boundaries of New York City. It’s a city with an island of pick-up trucks and lobster shacks, massive skyscrapers and financial juggernauts, beaches, forests—and The Hole, a neighborhood that harks back to the Wild West.
The Hole [Nathan Kensinger]
Meet ‘The Hole,’ [Curbed]
An Urban Frontier [NY Times]

0 Comment

  • this is awesome i was reading about this. anyone want to go exploring this place with me? i think im too afraid to go there alone. there’s wild pitbulls that roam around the area.


  • the pictures on his site of the fedders row of houses that were never completed is hysterical. i really want to go inside one.


  • looks like where I lived in south carolina for awhile.

  • the above picture looks like detroit as well


  • I always wondered what that part of town was called. Fascinating stuff.

  • Wow!
    this doesn’t even look like NYC – it really does look like the rural south…

  • Very cool. Almost sorry they wrote about it- I give it about 3 more months before Mike Bloomberg decides he has to “gentrify” it and put in luxury wild west estates for the likes of Paris Hilton to buy and experience the real life and grit of NYC. Or maybe Joe Sitt will buy it and build a Wild West theme park.

  • Whoops- spoke too soon before reading the article. Too late. Hope they just leave it alone- I love these small, nearly forgotten bits. They’re what make NYC so fascinating.

  • Rob, telling us that there are wild pitbulls roaming the area is not a great way to get anyone to agree to go explore it with you…I’m just sayin’!

  • And rob- you are aware there is lots of – dare I say it- vegetation here?

  • i dont mind wild vegetation bxgirl. urban praries are cool to look at and explore. it’s the people who try to make it look MORE like this everywhere.


  • why would anyone want this place to stay this way other than for their own amusement. The people who live here are obviously unhappy and want to leave.

  • snappy roaming wild pitbulls aren’t going to bite you, they probably wont even come up to you at all. maybe if you have food in your hand or something, i dont know..


  • Rob, that doesn’t sound so convincing!

  • The important question is:

    Is there a bar/lounge/karaoke place in this nabe for a PLUSA outing?

  • santa- obvious to whom?

  • rob, why not just take your pit to protect you?

  • Oh, this area is so cool…I’ve explored it several times en route out to L.I. along Linden Blvd. (although only in the car, I confess). I call it “Where the Streets Have No Name” (they do, technically, but you get the idea). Folks do look at you funny if you tool around down there, but there aren’t many folks around anyway. On foot, I think I’d like to maybe have a friendly pit bull on a leash as a companion. (Or maybe Rob on a leash?)

    By the way, Jscheff, nice writing job: good cadence, evocative, well-balanced!

  • yes- definitely not like his Crown heights post.

  • I can’t believe this guy found the Hole. This is one of my old haunts, between East New York and Howard Beach. The nearest actual bar is in Howard Beach (I imagine). Closer by is the Lindenwood Diner, one of the great classic Brooklyn diners, with the jukebox on the table.

    This is part of the ENY of my youth. It was very spread out, remote, far from the “city” (Manhattan) and undeveloped. As I mentioned some time ago, I grew up across the street from an operating horse stable, and many of the streets were unpaved. It was a great area to grow up in as a boy, there was always a sense of adventure and exploration about the place.

    Rob, you can go there and probably be OK, but I’d advise taking the dog along and leave the Hannah Montana hat at home.

  • There’s not one human in any of those pictures. But, mopar, I think I found the kitchen you’re dreaming of.

  • We live pretty close to this. I think I’ve seen it from the car, not sure. Parts of the area where Cypress meets the graveyards looks similar. I love to think about how back around 1880, Cooper St. was a highway going through farm fields, and it must have looked like this, with just that one red wood-sided building that’s now for sale serving as a general store-inn along the way.

    BTW, there’s a really bizarre Hamptons Inn or something for truckers (and maybe crack addicts — I don’t know I never went there) on Wyckoff just before Cooper — in case you need a place to stay between explorations.

  • Have it designated as a wetland and make it un-buidable.

  • East New York, what a great story. And do you ride!?

  • Ha ha Nomi I saw that kitchen and thought “oooh, that looks nice”!

  • drove past there a few months ago- the corrals were there and a horse or two with a big sign for the Black Cowboys.

  • There’s also an exquisite strip joint called “Pumps” across from a gas station (the inspiration for the name, apparently) in the no-man’s land between East Williamsburg and the Bushwick industrial loft area where Grand Ave. goes over the drawbridge. I’m dying to know if any hipsters ever wander down there.

    DIrty Hipster, any intelligence?

  • Wow. Is this the HQ of the 4H Club of New York? Who stables their horses there? This is great.

  • I’m not a “horseman,” Mopar but I’ve ridden horses many times in many places – West Virginia, Mexico, Belize. Ironically, I’ve never ridden a horse in Brooklyn. I was about 9-10 when the stable across from my house was closed down. Never got a chance to ride there.

  • It is/was believed that the real life Sonny Red from Donnie Brasco was buried there. The Feds dug in vein a few years ago.

    ***Bid half off peak comps***

  • Actually BHO, “Sonny Red” was found near here not long after he was killed in the 1980s. The cops then found two other guys he was killed with in the same area in 2004.

  • are you not allowed to say the s-word on here? my post got deleted because i asked about the cesspools that this neighborhood uses. what is a cesspool? a waste pit?

    anyway, i’d love to visit this hole. i have a pitbull, so we could form a pitty gang. biking could be fun too.

  • Hmmm…I COULD do a tour! But unlike other, much more generous Brownstoners (suckers), my BKLYN knowledge is definitely not available without compensation.

  • bxgrl- this person from the NYT article

    “”Most people are here because they were born here or they can’t afford to live anywhere else,” Ms. Watt said. ”I’d love to move, but I can’t afford to, so for now I’m stuck in the Hole.””

  • Santa, one comment does not mean everyone who lives there wants to leave. I recall from when I grew up in the area that many people enjoyed the area’s relative isolation and anonimity. But I would agree that most people who live there are natives. That’s just the way it is in that part of town. When I was a kid, no one who didn’t live there or who wasn’t from there knew anything about East New York or this area.

  • rob I would go exploring here with you, I like exploring places like this. Just as long as it’s capped with some booze afterward.

    I can’t find any mapping about where this place is exactly…que?

    And TE, the only places nearby if I am guessing correctly are the chain restaurants at the mall.

  • Indeed santa- what ENY said.

    Would be a great tour, ENY! Would you accept drinks and sandwiches in lieu of cashola? Free cats?

  • I’d accept free treats for my dog, bxgrl!

  • I know this place well. I lived nearby on Liberty Avenue. It’s only a short walk from the Grant Avenue A station, just before it goes out from the underground tunnel to the elevated rails. It’s next to the Conduit Blvd.
    My sister dated a guy whose aunt lived there and I once had dinner at their house, great meatballs, I remember the aunt telling us that they dug the streets downwards for some reason decades ago and the basement became the first floor. I also had a high school friend who was dating a pretty girl who lived somewhere in that small neighbohood, I remember being jealous of him as we drove her home one night after a night in the city, she had a heavy Brooklyn accent I recall. It was an Italian area mostly, back then, don’t know who lives there now. It was never a place that was considered nice to live in, but still , it had a charm reminiscent of an Edward Hopper painting where everyday is like Sunday.

  • these people also dont have sewage right?