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Posts Tagged ‘brooklyn’

Four Sparrow Marsh is in Brooklyn, squeezed between Toys “R” Us and the Belt Parkway. I’ve boated and driven past it innumerable times and never thought it was anything more than a patch of undeveloped land probably full of old cars and trash.

But it turns out that it’s home to more than sixteen bird species, including four species of sparrow—salt-marsh, song, swamp, and savannah. Hence the name.

It also turns out that it may not be undeveloped for long. Yesterday Karen sent me a link to New York City Audubon. There are plans to build the Four Sparrows Retail Center on the marsh. NYC Audubon is not categorically opposed to the development: “An appropriately designed retail project, with adequate buffers to protect this critical habitat and a design sensitive to the waterfront and to birds could be an asset to the city,” they say. A public meeting to discuss the project had been scheduled for January 11, but it was postponed. Click here for more information about the marsh and the project, and to find out the new date for the meeting (not yet known).

This afternoon I found myself near Four Sparrow Marsh, so I headed over with my camera and tromped around in the snow a bit.

A pale moon, just past first quarter, was rising:

Since I was already out-and-about and with cold feet, I decided to check out the nature trail at the Salt Marsh Nature Center, another place I’ve driven and boated by without stopping.

Here’s a parting shot of some cold ducks:

 

The Salt Marsh is worth checking out. I’ll be back when it’s warmer.

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I write a lot about bridges here, so today it’s time to write about a tunnel. Hidden beneath Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn is the oldest subway tunnel in the world. It was built in 1844 for the Long Island Railroad and was closed up in 1861.

Passengers traveling up the eastern seaboard would take a ferry across New York Harbor to Brooklyn, where they would board the train. The train would take them to Greenport, almost the very end of Long Island’s north fork. From there, passengers would take a ferry across Long Island Sound to Connecticut, where they would catch another train for Boston. At first the train through Brooklyn ran at street level, but as the area was developed there were a lot of unpleasant and grisly incidents involving trains and people, so a tunnel was dug to provide “grade separation.”

Bob Diamond discovered the old tunnel in 1980, and in 1982 he founded the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association “to preserve, publicize and provide public access to the historic tunnel.” To do this, they run public tours under Atlantic Avenue. Karen, the kids, and I took the tour this afternoon.

To enter the tunnel, we lined up in the middle of Atlantic Avenue, waiting our turn to climb the ladder down the manhole.

Y was first down the ladder:

Followed by P:

Once down the hole we walked about fifteen feet to the tunnel entrance. After squeezing through a small opening, we emerged into the vast space of the tunnel, about half a mile long. Here’s a look back at the entrance and the stairs leading down into the tunnel:

And another view of the entrance:

Here are three of the intrepid explorers:

After everyone entered the tunnel, Bob Diamond gave a very interesting and lively talk on a range of topics, from the history of the tunnel to conspiracy theories involving John Wilkes Booth to political corruption.

The tunnel, which Walt Whitman described as “all closed and filled up, and soon to be utterly forgotten” is well worth a visit. Information about upcoming tours is on the BHRA website. After the tour you will agree with Walt:

The tunnel: dark as the grave, cold, damp, and silent. How beautiful look earth and heaven again, as we emerge from the gloom!

(And to find out why Y is wearing a Lakers T-shirt, read his blog: A Lakers Fan in NYC.)

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