2016-03-30 / Book Review

‘Hidden Waters Of New York City: A History And Guide...’

In “Hidden Waters of New York City,” Sergey Kadinsky presents the first-ever historical travel guide to the city’s lost and existing rivers, streams and ponds (Countryman Press, $19.95).

In “Hidden Waters of New York City,” Sergey Kadinsky presents the first-ever historical travel guide to the city’s lost and existing rivers, streams and ponds (Countryman Press, $19.95).

“Hidden Waters Of New York City: a History and Guide to 101 Forgotten Lakes, Ponds, Creeks, and Streams in the Five Boroughs” by Sergey Kadinsky has just been released.

New York City and its waterways have always had a complicated relationship. Once, its docks were the center of industry. In the 20th century, they were neglected, then resurrected in the 21st with waterfront parks and housing developments. Today, New Yorkers cherish their rivers and lakes as much as they fear the damage they will cause with the next big storm.

But the East River and the Central Park Lake are only a part of the story. Ever heard of Wallabout Bay, home to a notorious Revolutionary War-era British prison ship? Or Collect Pond, which was a burial ground for enslaved Africans turning into the notorious neighborhood known as Five Points? Did you know that Coney Island was once an actual island? Or that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis used to jog around the Central Park reservoir that now bears her name?

In “Hidden Waters of New York City,” Sergey Kadinsky presents the first-ever historical travel guide to the city’s lost and existing rivers, streams and ponds. It is a history with surprising modern relevance, as these waterways guided the city’s design and still impact the city in fascinating and sometimes damaging ways.

Packed with historical maps, paintings, and fascinating anecdotes, Hidden Waters delves into what’s underneath our landscape to help explore these forgotten remains, such as:

 Canal Street, whose buried namesake can still be traced along this popular route

 Bronx Kill, an inlet separating The Bronx from Manhattan, popular with kayakers

 Flushing Creek, site of two World’s Fairs and now part of Flushing Meadows Corona Park

 Gowanus Canal, a polluted waterway experiencing a cultural revival in Brooklyn

For the history buff, tourist, or long-time resident alike, this book can serve as both a practical guide and informative narrative. Nearly all of the sites are within walking distance of public transportation, and many are in public parks. From Manhattan to Staten Island, “Hidden Waters” is a unique and comprehensive guide to an under-appreciated element of New York City history. (Paperback, Countryman Press, $19.95)

Sergey Kadinsky is an analyst for the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. He lives in Queens with his wife.

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