Up The Creek: "The City Concealed" Sets Sail on Newtown Creek

You might catch a glimpse of Newtown Creek by traveling over one of its many bridges. But that glimpse doesn’t give you the scope of the creek’s importance to New York City’s development, or exactly why it has become a zone of contention in the NYC landscape.

The Creek is most-known for the well-publicized oil spill, to which it lends its name, that sits under a swath of Greenpoint, its neighbor to the south.

The creek runs a full 3.5 miles, bisecting Brooklyn and Queens. Most people barely know it exists. So what happens there, how did it become so overlooked, and was it always this way?

What we found was both beautiful and grotesque, heartening and depressing.

We contacted Captain John Doswell of the Working Harbor Committee, and he arranged for us to rent a boat and set us up with a Newtown Creek expert, Bernard Ente of the Newtown Creek Alliance, who was interviewed for the video. (John and Bernard give tours of the waterways around New York called the Hidden Harbor Tours.)

On a lovely August day, we set off from the east side of Manhattan, across the East River into the depths of a virtually-invisible part of New York City. Basil Saggos of Riverkeeper told Reuters:

“a boat trip up the creek is a journey into the heart of darkness, with the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline as a reminder of its real world locale.”

We’d like to thank everyone who helped out with making of this video, our maiden voyage, if you will. Mat Lynch first of all for the idea, and Carter Craft and the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance for helping with the boat, Brooklyn Historical Society, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, David Rumsey Map Collection, Monark, and all of those above.