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Newtown Creek Nature Walk doubles in length, provides greater access to waterfront

Prehistoric fossils, homage to Monitor are part of project

June 22, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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On Monday, officials, representatives of city agencies and community groups cut the ribbon on the newly expanded Newtown Creek Nature Walk in Greenpoint as part of the ongoing project of reclaiming the Brooklyn waterfront.    

The expanded Nature Walk, designed by artist George Trakas for the Department of Cultural Affairs, is now accessible to the public from either side of the Department of Environmental Protection’s 53-acre Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility, famous for its picturesque “digester eggs.”  The Walk now connects both sides of Whale Creek, a tributary of Newtown Creek that goes south into Greenpoint.

DEP funded the project, which began in 2019, and the construction was managed by Department of Design and Construction. Newtown Creek, infamous for its pollution, divides Greenpoint from southwest Queens and is a federal Superfund clean-up site.

In the newly opened portion of the Walk on the east side of Whale Creek is an etching of the Monitor, the pioneering Civil War ironclad ship that was built in a Greenpoint shipyard. The Battle of the Monitor and the Merrimack in 1862 in Hampton Roads, Virginia, was the first recorded battle between two ironclad ships.

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Nearby are a water fountain carved into a 3.3-billion-year-old rock, imprints of bare feet and moon boots, and solar-powered light bollards etched with the names of navigational star constellations.

Active industry and nature now co-exist along the Newtown Creek Nature Walk. Photo courtesy of NYC Department of Environmental Projects

As part of the expansion, three 60-foot long bow-shaped vessels made of galvanized steel with connecting ramps, bridges and a central “turret” seating area were constructed to connect the existing Nature Walk to the opposite, eastern side of Whale Creek.  

There, a 430-foot long area has been landscaped with trees, shrubs and grasses, and features seating and shade structures, bicycle racks, water fountains, several rain gardens and five 380-million-year-old boulder-sized tree fossils found near the city’s Schoharie Reservoir.  

“Greenpoint’s newly-expanded Newtown Creek Nature Walk not only grants the public unobstructed access to both east and west sides of the Walk, but also provides visitors with serene, open spaces in which to commune with the natural beauty along its waterfront,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. 

“Today marks another milestone in the transformation of our relationship to the long-abused but always resilient Newtown Creek. Through the stewardship of the Department of Environmental Protection and other city agencies, elected officials, environmental advocates and the local community, visitors can now enjoy an expanded Nature Walk, thoughtful and inspiring design, and even more access to the waterfront than ever before. It’s a great day for Greenpoint and our entire city,” said Assemblymember Emily Gallagher, who represents the area.

“I am beyond pleased to see the expanded Newtown Creek Nature Walk in Greenpoint, which is now accessible from both sides of DEP’s 53-acre Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility,” said Councilmember Stephen Levin, who also represents the area.

“From its muscular digester eggs to its lush greenery, the Newtown Creek Nature Walk is one of my favorite places in NYC.  This newly expanded path illustrates the ambitions of our forthcoming Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, as well as the city’s commitment to a clean and accessible waterfront,” said Department of City Planning Director Marissa Lago.

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