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Join Me on a Tour of Dead Horse Bay!

Dead Horse Bay

“Bottle Beach” at Dead Horse Bay, Brooklyn.

What’s Dead Horse Bay?

Beginning in the 1850s, this area of the Brooklyn waterfront served as the final destination for the city’s carriage horses. Horse carcasses were delivered by barge to gigantic bone boiling plants and processed into glue and fertilizer. Following the rise of the automobile and a series of natural disasters, the factories closed down and fell to ruin. What was then a marshy landmass called “Barren Island” was filled in with garbage and connected to mainland Brooklyn. The southern tip of the new peninsula was used as an active landfill from the 1930s to the early 50s.

Over the last 60 years, the man-made beach at Dead Horse Bay has slowly eroded away, and decades’ worth of trash have been gradually excavated from the soil.  At low tide, garbage covers the beach, and the vast majority of it dates back to the 1930s and 40s.  There’s a preponderance of glass, not plastic, bottles.  Some bear the faded trademark of long-lost brand names. Tellingly, most of the toys and trinkets were “Made in the U.S.A.”  Others originated in “Occupied Japan.”

The beach is open to the public as part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, and I know that many of you are adventurous enough to visit on your own.  But if you’d prefer a slightly more structured group activity, this tour won’t disappoint.

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Familiar brand names among the old bottles.

Some familiar brand names among the old bottles.

What are the transport/parking options getting to the event?

Dead Horse Bay is remote and easy to miss, so we’ll be meeting at a predetermined location in Flatbush that’s easily accessible by subway and taking the bus over together.  You’ll recieve an email with detailed meeting instructions beforehand.  The tour itself will take around two hours, but you can expect to be back at the meeting point 3 hours from the start time.  If you prefer to drive, free parking is available in Floyd Bennett Field, just across the street from the beach.

What can I expect from the tour?

After a short bus ride to the waterfront, we’ll be making a loop through Dead Horse Bay’s natural areas, covering the entire shoreline affected by the breached landfill.  Along the way, I’ll give you an account of the rise and fall of Barren Island’s industrial age, including the plight of the factory workers, the efforts of the “Anti-Barren Island League,” and the story of how the island became infested with 1,000 wild hogs. Then you’re free to explore on your own before we reconvene for an informal “show and tell” where we’ll show off our favorite finds from the day. More info and ticketing available here.

Is it OK to take things from the beach?

While a few might bristle at the thought of removing “artifacts” from Dead Horse Bay, there is no official word on the issue.  A steady stream of artists, crafters, and collectors have been gathering supplies and curios here for years, without much of a reduction in the overall amount of garbage.  Generally, I don’t have a problem with removing things from the beach (I’m certainly guilty of it.)  But since we’ll be visiting as a group, I do want to minimize our impact as much as possible.  I won’t stand in your way if you’d like to take home a bottle or two, but the best policy might be to leave things behind for others to enjoy.

Here’s a few of the best finds I’ve made over the past few years: (Click to enlarge)

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Discussion

2 thoughts on “Join Me on a Tour of Dead Horse Bay!

  1. Please suggest and help in buying abandoned property

    Thanks Mohan Singh

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

    Posted by mohansingh.sudan@gmail.com | 6-29-15., 10:55 am
  2. So cool!!

    Like

    Posted by marielvillere2014 | 6-29-15., 10:59 am

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Disappearing into fog, from the Brooklyn side... Any Bay Ridgeites remember what used to be on these signs?

#verrazanobridge #verrazano #bayridge #brookyn #nyc #newyork #newyork_ig #newyorkcity #fog #foggy #moodygrams #water #longexposure #weather #nycprimeshot #bridgestagram Borough residents speak longingly of Staten Island before the opening of the Verrazano Bridge in 1964.
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Country roads meandered through sweeping forests, quiet beach communities, and open expanses of farmland crawling with nanny goats.
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The nature of the island was permanently altered as the bridge prompted a mass migration of newcomers from overpopulated Brooklyn.
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The influx covered farms and forests with mile upon mile of tract housing, plaguing the island with traffic problems that persist to this day.
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#newyork_ig #nycprimeshot #newyorknewyork #nyhistory #nyc #statenisland #bridgeporn #verrazanobridge #newyork #topnewyorkphoto #fiveboroughs #bridgestagram #underthebridge The city of New York took over the Staten Island Ferry in 1905 after a series of deadly disasters on privately-run lines. 🌊💀🔥 The 1871 "Westfield" disaster was the worst of them.  Nearly 100 passengers lost their lives when a boat's boiler exploded in its slip at Whitehall.  Jacob Vanderbilt, head of SI Railway at the time, was charged with murder, but never convicted.

More history up on the blog (🔗 in profile)

#newyorkcity #newyorknewyork #nyhistory #nychistory #statenisland #statenislandferry #nyharbor #staten #historynerd #nycprimeshot #newyork_ig #newyorkers Seagulls follow in the wake of the Staten Island Ferry. ⚓️ #statenisland #statenislandferry #nyc #newyorknewyork #topnewyorkphoto #nycprimeshot #newyorkcity @newyork_instagram The iconic orange color of the Staten Island Ferry was first adopted in 1926, to increase its visibility during periods of heavy snow and fog. 🌫🚢🌫 More photos and history on the blog... (🔗 in profile)

#staten #statenisland #newyorknewyork #newyorkcity #silive #city #statenislandferry #ferry #orange Got my first post up in a long while on the blog, introducing a new series on Staten Island. 🗽🛳 🏙 Here, the Staten Island Ferry pulls away from Lower Manhattan on a foggy afternoon. 🔗 in profile
#statenisland #statenislandferry #nyc #fog #silive #newyorkcity #newyorknewyork #staten #mist Well hello there! Outside looking in on the ruins of Kings Park Psychiatric Center. #abandoned #abandonedplaces #asylum #urbandecay #urbanexploration #urbex #kppc #kingspark #raccoonsofinstagram #raccoon #wildlife A sad old house in Graniteville, SI. #abandoned #abandonednyc #urbex #urbandecay #oldhouse #oldhousecharm #urbanexploration #nyc The wreck of the Phillip T. Feeney. #shipwreck #boatgraveyard #urbandecay #urbanexploration #urbex #nyc #statenisland #northshore Fort Wadsworth's Battery Weed is among the most picturesque of the city's defunct military defenses.  It stood guard from the 1860s to the 1990s, when the base was decommissioned.  #urbanexploration #urbandecay #statenisland #preservation #nyhistory #nyc #nycprimeshot #architecture Leaf litter floods the entryway to one of the oldest structures in New York City--first built as a one room residence way back in 1670!  It's in sorry shape today, though it was declared a NYC landmark in 1984.  #abandoned #abandonedplaces #abandonedhouse #landmarks #nyclandmarks #preservation #urbanexploration #statenisland The incredible Brooklyn Army Terminal atrium, photographed last February.  Though the atrium is no longer used for shipping and receiving, the surrounding structure remains a vibrant hub of industry on the Sunset Park waterfront.  #NYC #brooklyn #urbanexploration #urbandecay #nychistory #sunsetpark #industry #urbex