New York City Waterways by Roger Generazzo

Issue 56

My project, The New York City Waterways, is a photographic survey and personal reflection on the states of the waterways and their adjacent landscapes of New York City. Most people are aware of the two major waterways, the Hudson and East Rivers. However, fewer know of the over seventy other waterways flowing around the city’s five boroughs. These bays, basins, rivers and creeks used to be major transportation waterways, filled with every type of sailing ship, carrying cargo, commuters and travellers daily to and from the city. Up to the middle of the 20th Century, the city's harbor overflowed with commerce and life, contributing to the city’s economic prosperity and worldwide reputation.

However, due to technological developments over time, the use of ships and the prosperity of the waterways changed. As vehicle, locomotive and air transportation expanded at a phenomenal pace to transport goods, machinery and commuters, the use of ships dramatically declined. Over years, the companies whose factories lined the waterways leaked contaminants into the water and soil, jeopardizing the health of the water supply and the plant and animal life in it. In addition, the city itself dumped along miles of shoreline garbage and hazardous wastes, which also contaminated the soil and water. Following this, the activities and vitality around the waterfronts eventually waned. Without being used and cared for, the docks and piers deteriorated to rubble.

For over five years, I have photographed the positive and negative effects of human impact along these waterways. My hope is that this project may instigate in the viewer an appreciation for and a desire to visit the city’s waterways. I also hope this project offers the viewer the opportunity to contemplate how the landscape bears our history and holds the key to understanding our culture and identity. Everything we are is in the layers of the land.

Roger Generazzo lives and works in New York City.
To view more of Roger's work, please visit his website.

You can purchase the photograph "At the End of Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn, NY, 2009" from Fraction Editions.

  Seeming Untouched Along the Bronx River, Bronx, NY, 2010 

Seeming Untouched Along the Bronx River, Bronx, NY, 2010 

  Accumulated Along the Hutchinson River, Bronx, NY, 2010 

Accumulated Along the Hutchinson River, Bronx, NY, 2010 

  Grounded in Coney Island Creek, Brooklyn, NY, 2011 

Grounded in Coney Island Creek, Brooklyn, NY, 2011 

  At the End of Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn, NY, 2009

At the End of Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn, NY, 2009

  Rusting Along Gerritsen Creek, Brooklyn, NY, 2009 

Rusting Along Gerritsen Creek, Brooklyn, NY, 2009 

  Thriving on Fresh Kills Main Creek, Staten Island, NY, 2011 

Thriving on Fresh Kills Main Creek, Staten Island, NY, 2011 

  Sheltering Under the Sun Along Westchester Creek, Bronx, NY, 2013 

Sheltering Under the Sun Along Westchester Creek, Bronx, NY, 2013 

  Protecting the Beach Along the Atlantic Ocean, Brooklyn, NY, 2012 

Protecting the Beach Along the Atlantic Ocean, Brooklyn, NY, 2012 

  Abandoned Along Fresh Creek Basin, Brooklyn, NY, 2009

Abandoned Along Fresh Creek Basin, Brooklyn, NY, 2009

  Living Along a Handmade Inlet of Hawtree Basin, Queens, NY, 2010 

Living Along a Handmade Inlet of Hawtree Basin, Queens, NY, 2010 

  Lingering from the War Along the Atlantic Ocean, Queens, NY, 2012 

Lingering from the War Along the Atlantic Ocean, Queens, NY, 2012 

  Blasted Away for the Rails Along the Hudson River, Manhattan, NY, 2012 

Blasted Away for the Rails Along the Hudson River, Manhattan, NY, 2012 

  Repairing Along East Mill Basin, Brooklyn, NY, 2009 

Repairing Along East Mill Basin, Brooklyn, NY, 2009 

  Cut Off from the East River, Manhattan, NY, 2012 

Cut Off from the East River, Manhattan, NY, 2012 

  Revealing the Landfills Along Old Mill Creek, Brooklyn, NY, 2011

Revealing the Landfills Along Old Mill Creek, Brooklyn, NY, 2011

  Watching What Enters The Narrows, Brooklyn, NY, 2011 

Watching What Enters The Narrows, Brooklyn, NY, 2011 

  Observing Nature from the Shoreline of Broad Channel, Queens, NY, 2012 

Observing Nature from the Shoreline of Broad Channel, Queens, NY, 2012 

  Parked Along the English Kills, Brooklyn, NY, 2010 

Parked Along the English Kills, Brooklyn, NY, 2010 

  Summer Fun on the Hudson River, Manhattan, NY, 2012 

Summer Fun on the Hudson River, Manhattan, NY, 2012 

  In Between the Boroughs on Newtown Creek, Brooklyn and Queens, NY, 2009 

In Between the Boroughs on Newtown Creek, Brooklyn and Queens, NY, 2009