Day twenty-one: Canarsie

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Only one set of human footprints were visible heading east from the Canarsie pier toward Fresh Creek Basin on the beach, though I could feel the eyes of fisherman and gossiping ladies from a distance.

The tide was low and the treasures of Jamaica Bay were partially visible. Exploring the wildlife, I was most fascinated by the beds of ribbed mussels. Huge areas of the beach were covered by these animals with grasses growing atop.

The usual bottle and porcelain fragments were scattered among condom wrappers and potato chip bags. A discarded package of fishing hooks brought me flashbacks of the scene in Great Expectations when Finn is drawing fish in the water, save the constant descent of planes heading to JFK above and lack of convicts hiding in the water. There is something so charming about fish drawn by hand.

Along with a number of other wetlands in the New York area, the restoration of Canarsie beach is a necessary pursuit to imrpove the quality of life within the fragile New York ecosystem. Still reading through this, but efforts are outlined here.

According to Wikipedia:

 “Canarsie” is a phonetic interpretation of a word in the Lenape language for “fenced land” or “fort.” The Native Americans who made the infamous sale of the island of Manhattan for 60 guilders were LenapeEuropeans would often refer to the indigenous people living in an area by the local place-name, and so reference may be found in contemporary documents to “Canarsee Indians.” The current neighborhood lies within the former town of Flatlands, one of the five original Dutch towns on Long Island.

Canarsie was built on swamps near Jamaica Bay. It was a fishing village through the 1800s, until pollution killed the oysters and the edible fish. In the 1920s, Southern Italian immigrants along with Jews settled in the area (though the Jewish population in Canarsie in recent years has been steadily shrinking [3]).. Ferry service at Canarsie Pier withered away after the building of the Marine Parkway Bridge. During the 1990s, much of Canarsie’s white population left for Staten Island, Long Island, and Queens, part of a national urban phenomenon called “white flight” by many. Today, Canarsie’s population is mostly non-white because of large West Indian immigration. East Brooklyn Community High School now serves the transfer student population.[4]


I had two portions of jerk chicken last week alone, it is quickly becoming a favorite dish.

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