Newtown Creek Alliance

NCA historian Mitch Waxman will be leading a number of tours of Newtown Creek in 2015. We will update this page as more tour details and dates are announced.


August 2nd, Insalubrious Valley
Hosting Organization: Newtown Creek Alliance
Cost: $20

Following the currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens, we will be exploring the colonial, industrial, and environmental history of the borderland communities. We will encounter century old movable bridges, visit the remains of a 19th century highway, and explore two of the lesser known tributaries of the troubled Newtown Creek watershed. For the vulgarly curious, Conrad Wissell’s Dead Animal and Night Soil wharf will be described. BUY TICKETS HERE.



July 12thGlittering Realms
Hosting Organization: Newtown Creek Alliance
Cost: $20

A colonial center and 19th century industrial powerhouse, Greenpoint is a thriving neighborhood surrounded by environmental catastrophe which has been reborn in the 21st century. The walk will explore this ancient North Brooklyn neighborhood and its industrial history as we move inexorably toward the Newtown Creek. The area we will be moving through will be completely altered by real estate development in coming years, come take a look before everything changes. Buy tickers here.

June 7th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
Hosting Organization: Newtown Creek Alliance
Cost: $20
In 13 steps, Mitch will show you the then and now of Dutch Kills tributary, once known as the “workshop of the United States.” A central maritime artery of Long Island City, Dutch Kills is surrounded by hundreds of factory buildings, titan rail yards, and crossed by century old bridges – and it’s found just a few blocks away from Queens Plaza. Buy tickets here.

May 31st, #Superfun Boat Tour
Hosting Organization: Working Harbor Committee
Cost: $30
Step aboard a Water Taxi for an on-water two hour tour leaving from Pier 11 (Wall Street) in Manhattan. SOLD OUT.

May 3rd, Down Under Pulaski Bridge Onramp
Hosting Organization: Jane’s Walk
Cost: Free
An intense exploration of Newtown Creek’s Greenpoint and Hunters Point neighborhoods, walking along the East River and over the Newtown Creek. Full info here.

May 2nd,  An Insalubrious Valley
Hosting Organization: Concrete Temple Theatre
Cost: $15
As part of their upcoming theatre production, The Bellagio Fountain has been Known to Make Me Cry, showing at Studio 301 at English Kills, The Concrete Temple Theatre is hosting a number of events related to Newtown Creek. This includes a walking tour with Mitch. Check out all the awesome weekend events and get more tour info here.



TreesCount Area

Update: Join us August 1st for our first training event! RSVP here and completing a quick online form that takes 5 to 10 minutes.

Join NCA and the NYC Parks department in our effort to map and catalogue every street tree on every block in New York City! As part of this effort, NCA has adopted a portion of the Ridgewood/Bushwick area (as shown in dark green on the map above). At the 3-hour mapping events, you will learn how to identify the many species of NYC street trees, in addition to learning about tree health and stewardship practices. NYC Parks asks that you complete the 15-minute online training prior to arriving at a mapping event.

TreesCount is the street tree census run by NYC Parks department. The census happens every 10 years and depends on New York City residents to count and catalogue the more than half a million NYC trees scattered throughout the five borrows.

dissolved oxygen monitoring

I have spent the last month and a half getting stares from people as I throw a bucket into Newtown Creek and pull up water. Occasionally people will take the time to stop and find out what I’m doing. Those who stop to talk will find out that I’m not pulling buckets of water out of the Creek for my own amusement, but to test the levels of dissolved oxygen in the water.

Dissolved oxygen is the oxygen that is not part of a larger compound like H20, it’s the oxygen that is available for organisms like fish to use to “breathe”. Fish and other aquatic animals require a certain level of dissolved oxygen to survive. Dissolved oxygen enters the water by either diffusing from the atmosphere, or as a byproduct produced by aquatic plants and algae during photosynthesis.

Now here’s where it gets interesting; the Creek has Combined Sewage Overflows, or CSOs for short, that discharge raw sewage when the capacity of the wastewater treatment plant is exceeded when it rains. All this raw sewage provides an abundance of resources for algae, and this causes an algal bloom. The large increase in algae cause the dissolved oxygen levels to increase, which is awesome for fish and other aquatic life that depends of dissolved oxygen. Once the sewage, and therefore nutrients, stops flowing, the algae quickly die off. This is where things take a turn for the worst,if you’re a fish. The process of decay uses oxygen, and as all the dead algae start to decay, the dissolved oxygen levels plummet.

I’ve been going around 4 days a week, sampling 10 sites along the Creek, monitoring the dissolved oxygen levels. When I started sampling in early June the dissolved oxygen levels were fairly low, under the 3 mg/L. However as the summer progressed the dissolved oxygen levels increased to well above the 3 mg/L. In Dutch Kills, readings are frequently between 7-14 mg/L. Despite the relatively high dissolved oxygen levels most of the summer the Creek seems prone to sudden and drastic drops in dissolved oxygen. For example when I sampled at the Hunter’s Point Avenue Bridge Monday July 13th  dissolved oxygen was at 15.32 mg/L However by Thursday July 16th the dissolved oxygen had plummeted all the way down to 0.85mg/L.

Hopefully the data I’m gathering can provide useful information that will inform future decision making and help make the Creek a better place for the people for live and work nearby, and for the plants and animals that call the Creek their home.

About me:
I am currently a senior studying conservation biology at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) in Syracuse, NY. While I may now call Syracuse home I am originally from Brooklyn and attended LaGuardia Community College. It was at LaGuardia that my passion for urban ecology and social justice was nurtured. Due to it’s proximity to LaGuardia, the Creek and the complex issues surrounding it, played a large role in my education.

Newtown Creek Map

June 27th, 2015


Click above to zoom in.

After a few months of working closely with cartographer Ed Jacobus, NCA is proud to present a comprehensive map of Newtown Creek. This very local guide highlights a number of key features including various infrastructure, historic industrial sites, active maritime use, access points and even the Creek as it existed circa 1600.

The map is available as a free download for personal and education purposes* (see download link below) and we plan to run a mass printing in the coming weeks so that we can offer free copies of the map to local residents and organizations. Details on obtaining a printed version will be posted here as they become available.

Download the 24″x18″ high resolution .pdf file here.

*Unauthorized reproduction of the map for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited. 

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