Site: Newtown Creek
Author: Thaddeus Rombauer
Submitted: September 10, 2015
I was recently asked to participate in this photo adventure, and being an explorer of the rarely see and craver of unique experiences, this was more then up my ally.
The Newtown Creek is one such place that is rarely thought about, or even enters my mind for that matter. Maybe while returning to Brooklyn, crossing over the Pulaski Bridge while driving down the BQE I’ll catch a glimpse of it. Yet then just as quickly, the creek gets overshadowed by the Manhattan Skyline. Attention is then focused backon the road ahead of me as the Creek passes below.
I set out by way of canoe with Gaynor and Rosalynn, of the Brooklyn Boat Club, in the early morning late August 2015 on the Creek. The proverb; out of site, out of mind, comes to mind while moving along the shores of this once and still highly industrial waterway. It’s off putting to see how we have affected this place, especially while living and working in New York City. I feel we tend to become desensitized to all things “dirty” around us. Yet, I find a beauty in surface oil and floating beer cans adrift and making their way out to the East River.
We travelled up Dutch Kills, an offshoot of the creek to the very end. As we got closer, I recall one of my guilds mentioning that beyond this point, touching the water would be ill-advised. Normally no big deal, yet I was in the middle of a canon with a strange odor coming from the water. While sitting there observing, camera in hand, two loons take notice of us and quickly make their way though the heavily polluted waters. Methane gas bubbles rise to the surface or something of that nature. It was explained to me that throughout the City there are sewer overflows, and when the system can't handle all the water during heavy rain, you can guess where it ends up. The smell was becoming strong enough to make me feel uncomfortable, still there is an odd beauty to this lost place. So I try to capture it with some still images as my chaperones start to paddle back down the creek.
Photographing a Superfund site has had a profound affect on me, not only because its in our City, but has been a part of the neighborhood I have been living very close to for years and hardly knowing its there. Makes me really think about how much is happens around us in New York that we often ever see. Time to explore and open my eyes a little more.