Newtown Creek Bike Trip

Every weekend I go for a bike ride in order to remind my body what moving around and being healthy actually feels like. Today I decided to skip my usual route which normally includes the Noguchi Museum, Sculpture Park, 5Pointz and Williamsburg for somewhere I had been putting off for sometime. I read about Newtown Creak on Radiohead’s website and via the Newtown Creek Alliance, or at least the environmental disaster there. It is the location of America’s worst ever oil spill, three times in fact the size of The Exxon Valdez spill which dumped close to 750,000 barrels of oil in Prince William Sound in 1989. 
The creek separates the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn. I’ve biked over it numerous times and explored some of the sections on its north side. I had heard that there was a Newtown Creek Nature Walk which had been built pretty recently. Today I decided to pay it a visit but not before getting lost first. 
What I thought were abandoned tracks were in fact part of the Montauk Branch line which runs from the city to Montauk at the end on Long Island (Montauk is my favorite part of New York but more about that another time).  I obviously did not know this as I stood on them taking pictures with my camera phone listening to my iPod.   
Wrong turn and abandoned tracks/active freight lines apparently.
Another wrong turn and more abandoned tracks/Montauk Branch lines.

I eventually found the entrance and noticed that it lined up perfectly with the Empire State building. The road was deserted except for three people and a car. This gem was well and truly tucked away.

Looking back from the entrance on Paidge Avenue.

The entrance is wheel chair assessable which meant I could cycle in like I owned the place.

Great for looking like you own the place or people in wheel chairs. 
There was a long interesting walkway to get to the water. I loved the exposed bright layered concrete walls and steel railings. The surrounding area is incredibly old and industrial so it was a welcome relief to be around something so new. 
 

Approaching the rotunda bend.
Looking back.
Looking forward

Newtown Creek and Queens beyond.

Steps to the water.

The creek and the BQE beyond.

My trusty steed/Trek Bicycle.

Information on local wildlife.

Good idea.

NYC beyond. Nice at night I’m sure. 

 Small triangles were cut from the concrete to let the local vegetation take seed and grow.

Seating area.

Willow Tree

The nature walk ran along the river and then turned right to follow Whale Creek, another section that branched off. This area was heavily populated with trees and shrubs. I was in heaven.

Willow Tree/Pre-evolved Human

Okay, so I like to take pictures of trees. I’m a little obsessed with them to be honest. Maybe it’s an Irish thing as they play such an important part of our culture. Did you know that Irish people used to believe that humans evolved from trees that uprooted themselves and learned to walk on land? Well you do now. Trees are awesome. Fact.

Another Willow Tree – don’t judge me!

Boat Dock.

Sewage treatment facility tanks.

Educational old school first aid.

The nature walk is a dead end as I found out. This gate was locked and seemed to lead to a building several feat above.

End of the line in whale creek.

Looking back from the end.

Barrel/Trash Can

The local area was famed for barrel making for years so when the nature walk was designed they incorporated that fact when designing their trash cans. A nice touch methinks.

Returning to the entrance I really began to appreciate the industrial architecture of the nature walk. It neither blended in nor stood out. It was simply it’s own thing amongst an ugly landscape.

Surrounding area.

Returning home over Newtown Creek

Newtown Creek & NYC

The one thing you could probably work out from the photographs was that there was no one at the nature walk, I was totally alone. A beautiful sunday afternoon and not a soul. It is a peaceful oasis in the heart of a pulsing city, especially in such an industrial area. It is a little out of the way but I’m surprised that being so close to Williamsburg, Greenpoint and LIC that more artists have not exploited this hidden gem. I plan to return, alone with my guitar and notebook or with friends and a bottle of wine or two. It’s not often that in such an overcrowded city you can find your own space like this. They are slowly turning an environmental disaster area into something very beautiful.

In Short:

  • Newtown Creek Nature Walk: Paidge Ave & Provost Street, Brooklyn, NY11222.
  • Open dusk till dawn.
  • Wheel Chair assessable.
  • No biking (*cough, cough)
  • No pets.
  • 1/4 mile long or 1/2 mile walk round trip.
  • Totally empty.
  • It’s in the heart of industrial NYC so strange smells and sounds may occasionally drift your way. 
  • It’s very educational. The area sings with information on everything from the original native tribes, old maps of the area, local history and the flora and fauna.
  • Walk to LIC or Greenpoint and grab a beer afterwards.  
  • It’s free.
  • Getting here: 7-Train to Hunters Point Ave, G-Train to Greenpoint Ave…or a bike.
  • Check out the Newtown Creek Alliance

6 thoughts on “Newtown Creek Bike Trip

  1. I belong to a committee that worked with artist G. Trakus and DEP to make this public space happen. I'm so happy to see that you enjoyed it. The space is used mostly by students, kayakers, and local workers. And you're right, not many people know about it yet.

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  2. Thanks for your comment. I really enjoyed the space yesterday and I'll definitely be returning. Great job to you and the other people involved. I'll spread the good word on the park as best I can. Take care.

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  3. Hi Colin,
    A very well written piece,you brought me right in there with you,I could nearly feel the beauty you were experiencing,even in its solitude.But maybe thats what made it that extra bit nourishing for you.Sounds like a place where ideas can take root the only difference being you can take them with you.Great, Gerard

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