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A rendering of the streetcar traversing the Pulaski Bridge. Rendering via the Brooklyn Paper

Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious new Brooklyn-Queens streetcar proposal could transform outer-borough transportation in even more ways than previously revealed.

What’s new: The proposed route will probably require the construction of two new bridges in Brooklyn. It could also bring more pedestrian and bike paths to the borough — as well as less street parking, officials announced.

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I was over in Greenpoint last weekend for a Newtown Creek Alliance event, and since it was such a beautiful and clear day, I decided to wave the camera about and see what could be seen. Over on the LIC side of my beloved creek, I noticed something surprising. The Wheelspur Yard of the LIRR, which hasn’t been active since the late 1950s, had a series of freight cars sitting in it.

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Above is an aerial shot of my beloved Newtown Creek, as seen from the Empire State Building. You’ll notice the Pulaski Bridge crossing the water in the lower third of the shot and the Kosciuszko Bridge in the upper third. That’s LIC on the left, and Greenpoint on the right. On the Queens side, you can see the LIRR yard at Hunters Point and the LIE snaking eastwards away from the Midtown Tunnel. What you don’t see is something that nobody who is alive today has ever seen, and that’s Jack’s Creek – a filled in tributary of Newtown Creek that traveled inland for quite a way.

What? You don’t know Jack? More after the jump…

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I had a meeting to go to last night at LaGuardia Community College, this time it was for the Newtown Creek Community Advisory Group. I made sure to give myself a little extra time to wander and wave the camera about. I’m happy to report that Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills tributary is still where it’s supposed to be, although it is quite frozen. Since it was right around sunset, I got busy with the camera. The shot above is looking north from the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge at the former Loose Wiles Thousand Windows Bakery in the Degnon Terminal.

More after the jump…

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Of the many bridges that cross the noxious and noisome Newtown Creek, which includes the Pulaski (McGuiness Boulevard), J.J. Byrne (Greenpoint Avenue) Kosciuszko (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway), the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge, and the late lamented Penny Bridge, my favorite is the rattling Grand Street Bridge, which connects outlandishly remote sections of Brooklyn and Queens, two neighborhoods in East Williamsburg and western Maspeth you wouldn’t visit unless you worked there. Or unless you are me.

The reason for my preference is simple. While the other Newtown Creek bridges are relatively bland products of the mid-to-late 20th century and are quite boring in aspect the Grand Street Bridge is a 1900 swing bridge that looks like something you would put together with an erector set when you were a kid.

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Another round of voting takes place tonight to determine how $19,500,000 in settlement money from the Exxon-Mobil oil spill will be spent on Greenpoint environmental projects. There are 13 projects looking for a piece of the settlement, including a tidal wetland project along Newtown Creek and an educational community garden in McCarren Park. Other projects include an environmental education center at Greenpoint Library, the planned Box Street Park, and developing a new city park on Bushwick Inlet.

You can head over to the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund to read detailed proposals with the grant amounts for each project. Residents get to vote on which projects deserve funding tonight from 6 to 8:30 pm at the Polish and Slavic Center at 177 Kent Street, and on Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm at the Polish National Home at 261 Driggs Avenue.

Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund Coverage [Brownstoner]
Photo by Pixonomy

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I’ve told you all about Maspeth Creek before, but long story short is that it’s a tributary of Newtown Creek with big history and even bigger problems. On the history front, how many places can you name in Queens that British Commander Lord Cornwallis could have been hanging around during the 1770s?

I’m always hunting around the web for historic photos and maps of Western Queens and of Newtown Creek in particular. This past weekend, nearly an entire Sunday was lost exploring the amazing nyc.gov map site offered by the NYC Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications. The NY City Map allows you to turn various informational layers on and off – showing you transit locations, and healthcare centers, and parks of course – but what I find really interesting about the site is that they have aerial views from several “moments” in NYC history packaged in a modern digital map.

More after the jump…

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Brownstoner Queens columnist and Newtown Creek Alliance historian Mitch Waxman is leading his final walking tour of the season through industrial north Greenpoint tomorrow morning. The three-hour-long tour will wend its way through three miles of Greenpoint and particularly focus on the area around the Kosciuszko Bridge, which will soon be demolished and replaced with a new bridge. The tour meets at Kingsland and Norman avenues in Greenpoint tomorrow at 11 am. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased through the Obscura Society.

Photo by Mitch Waxman

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Oil on Newtown Creek is an old story, but when there are fresh rainbow colors like you see in the shot of Dutch Kills above, there’s nothing historic about it. That’s newly released material, and it’s been a big problem all summer.

First, for those of you unfamiliar with the place, Dutch Kills is Long Island City’s own tributary of Newtown Creek. Its junction with the main body of the Creek is found roughly .8 of a mile from the East River, and it terminates at 47th Avenue – just a block or so away from the Citigroup building on Jackson Avenue at Thomson.

Throughout the summer of 2014, reports of fresh oil sheens have been reported along Newtown Creek. My colleague in the Newtown Creek Alliance, Greenpoint’s Will Elkins, has documented this event, and interacted with NYS Department of Environmental Conservation investigators to determine the point source from which this material is emanating.

Yesterday, the DEC found that point source on Dutch Kills, and probably found the polluter who has been illegally dumping literally thousands of gallons of oil directly into the water all summer.

More after the jump…