Art, Book, Greenspace May 26, 2010 By Nalina Moses

filler71 newton creek

Photography courtesy of Princeton Architectural Press

Photography by Anthony Hamboussi. Courtesy of Princeton Architectural Press

filler71 newton creeknewtowntitle title newton creekAs we grow more and more distressed by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it’s a good time to remember Newtown Creek, a similarly devastated body of water that runs right through Brooklyn and Queens. Once teeming with plant and animal life, the creek was polluted by decades of industrial dumping, and by the gradual leakage of 17 million gallons of oil from underground storage tanks. More than ninety-five acres of water and land were spoiled. Although a clean-up was undertaken in the 1990’s, the area remains too toxic for conventional development and was recently added to the EPA’s Superfund National Priorities List.
     Brooklyn-based photographer Anthony Hamboussi traveled the length of the creek from 2001 to 2006 to compile Newtown Creek: A Photographic Survey of New York’s Industrial Waterway. His images poignantly capture the remains of what was once a thriving industrial culture. Waterfront plots are built up with factories, warehouses, silos,  smokestacks, and shipping piers, many abandoned and in disrepair. The creek itself is visible only in low, dark stretches, frozen in the winter and fetid in the summer. It looks more like a sewer than a natural body of water. Some factories along the shores remain active, but the only signs of natural life are weeds sprouting up through the paving.

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