For more than 20 years, I have been studying the historical ecology of New York City and thinking about what it means for the city’s future, and I can tell you one thing: Water will go where water has always gone.
When Hurricane Sandy roared into New York in 2012, where did the sea surge? Into the salt marshes. They may not have looked like salt marshes at the time. They may have looked like Edgemere and Oakwood Beach and Red Hook, but these neighborhoods are marshes first, disguised with landfill and topped with buildings.
And so it was recently with the remnants of Hurricane Ida. It is heartbreaking and tragic that people died in flooded basements, and that so many lost so much property. Where were these flooded basements? Judging by the news reports, mainly dug into the old stream courses and freshwater wetlands of the city. Places such as the block of 153rd Street, surrounded by Kissena Park, in Queens. That’s Kissena Park, named after Kissena Creek, which up until the 1910s met the tidewaters of the Flushing River right about where 153rd Street is.”