Come see Newtown Creek Nature Walk in Greenpoint
Eye on Real Estate
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
—Gerard Manley Hopkins
Urban wilderness takes some funky forms.
And one of the funkiest bits of urban wilderness you’ll find in the entire borough of Brooklyn is on the shoreline of Newtown Creek — a staggeringly polluted federal Superfund site.
The Newtown Creek Nature Walk, as it’s called, is situated along the perimeter of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. It’s a quirky spot for a nature walk, to say the least.
The plant’s eye-catching “digester eggs” are part of the scenery. They stand on the opposite side of Whale Creek, which is one of the nature walk’s boundaries.
The digester eggs process sludge, which is organic material that has been removed from sewage. Additional processing steps turn digested sludge into fertilizer.
Speaking of sludge, sometimes a city Department of Environmental Protection ship that transports sludge to the wastewater treatment plant docks in Whale Creek.
The day we stopped by to stroll around the nature preserve, a $35 million sewage tanker called Port Richmond was there.
On the opposite shore of Newtown Creek from the nature walk, at a metal-recycling facility, gigantic machines pluck crushed cars out of piles and load them onto barges.
Other views from the Newtown Creek Nature Walk are scenic, but not in the way you’d expect while standing in a nature preserve. Midtown Manhattan’s dazzling skyline is spread out along the far horizon. If your eyesight’s sharp, you can find the iconic Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building.
You will see numerous Long Island City towers as well.
Native plant species and visiting geese
The Department of Environmental Protection, which constructed the nature walk more than a decade ago, landscaped a healthy dose of nature into it.
Masses of plantings grow in wild, weed-like profusion along the quarter-mile-long-nature walk, which was designed by environmental artist George Trakas. The landscape architect was Quenelle Rothschild & Partners LLP.
The plants chosen for the nature walk are native species such as swamp white oak, sweet gum and sawtooth oak trees, to name a few.
Plaques explain the ways bygone generations of Brooklynites used various plants.
For instance, the wood from pitch pine trees served as dock pilings. Its bark was boiled into a tonic that soothed stomach pain.
Some of the plantings have delicate flowers this time of year. Others have bright berries.
The Newtown Creek Nature Walk is not a big visitor draw on weekdays, even in the summer. You might spend an entire afternoon there with nobody but a flock of geese to keep you company.
The Newtown Creek Nature Walk’s address is 100 Paidge Ave.
By the way, don’t send your kids there for a walk without you. Minors are not allowed on the premises unless they’re with adults.
Also, don’t bring booze with you. Drinking is not allowed on the property — and there are security cameras all over the place.