Site Description-JB

Band-aids are for cuts, not scars: Are Parks Along Newtown Creek a Pollution Solution, or Another Problem?

Author Biography

My name is Jozy and I am a history major at Rutgers University of Newark. Throughout the course of my studies I have learned a lot about social and environmental injustice across the spectrum. Being a person of color and coming from both a suburban and urban/ city area I know first-hand about the injustice inequalities communities can face. Therefore, I decided to focus my project on Newtown Creek located in New York City.

Site Descriptions

Newtown Creek is a 3.5-mile body of water that runs along the border between Brooklyn and Queens in New York City. For over 150 years this creek has been labeled one of the most polluted industrial sites within the United States. Because the creek contains harsh chemicals, toxins, sewage, and oil the surface is 14ft in depth of sludge which kill the ecosystem in and out of the water. Humans are not the only one’s environmental injustice affects. Over the past few years, area’s such as Greenpoint, NY have been developing greenspaces within the old industrial zones that brings life back to the surrounding communities. However, this solution is not one for the bigger picture. It is simple a small step taken to give hope. Environmental groups have fought for these spaces in order to cunt down the pollution of the areas surrounding the creek and the creek itself but it does not stop the ongoing contamination of the creek. With these greenspaces also come underlying gentrification. Even though, the green space is a great idea, it eventually displaces those who are of middle/ lower class because of property inflation.

Historical Questions:

  1. How has the development of greenspaces contribute to the disposition of those who are financially inclined?
  2. How has gentrification played a role in the status of Newtown Creeks toxicity level before and after new developments?
  3. Is it possible for Newtown Creek to be restored or will their just be continuous band-aids replacing the cause of the creeks inhabited waters?

Project Significance

                Gentrification has been in connection with polluted areas since the beginning of time. A lot of times places like Greenpoint, NY go unnoticed or unheard of internationally or even locally sometimes. The Newtown Creek runs through several neighborhoods such as: Greenpoint, Blissville, and Maspeth. These areas were popular during the industrial uprising in New York and became forgotten about after the de-industrializing in the 1980’s. The communities that live in these areas are mostly middle class and lower class people. With the development of rezoning and greenspaces these middle and lower class people eventually become displaced. How? You might ask. When areas become developed, often times, the cost of living goes up and when that happens those who rent become victims of inflation and are sometimes forced to relocate due to the change in their rent; business owners too. When this happen and new people come in, who have not been there or aware of the conditions the de-industrialization left communities in, they help form groups or join groups in protest to cleaning up the communities. By doing so, several companies have stopped dumping into the creek; however, there are still 3 oils leaking into the creek while greenspaces are being formed.

Key words: pollution, water, class, toxics, factories