Public Lab Research note

Last Minute Dead Horse Bay Expedition

by Bronwen | October 16, 2014 18:02 16 Oct 18:02 | #11269 | #11269

Dead Horse Bay Mapping

I know this is a last minute invite, but I'll likely be heading out there once a month or so, so don't sweat it if you're interested in coming but can't make it

Dead Horse Bay in Brooklyn, NY is the home of an impressive amount of research-worthy trash. Anyone interested in a casual mapping excursion this coming Sunday (10/19) is welcome to come along.

I'm interested in gathering aerial images of the beach at low tide as well as photographs of the tide mill ruins and any especially interesting trash (I am especially interested in anything with a serial number, text, or other markings that would help to identify where and when it was produced).

What To Bring

Cameras! This will be a good chance for folks who have not been out to the beach to get to know it. There will be plenty of opportunities for cool garbage photos.

Closed toe shoes. You'll be walking in wet sand and broken glass, and may want to be able to step into shallow water to investigate things (no need for boots unless you really think you want to go wading).

Water, Snacks. The beach is pretty easy to get to, but once we're there you won't be able to buy anything.

Light layers. It is going to be cool and breezy on Sunday.

Rubber gloves (optional). Depends on how grimy you're willing to get. Keep in mind that there will be a lot of glass and metal around, and use common sense when handling anything you find on the ground.

Also Good To Know

There are bathrooms at the Marina on one end of the bay, but I noticed on my last visit that the gates that allow access from the beach were locked. There are plenty of trees and bushes.

Cell reception is usually ok, but can be a little hit or miss.

Directions, Where & When to Meet

The Q35 bus runs down Flatbush Ave and stops right at the trail to the beach. The trail will have fork in three directions, and I'm going to start on the side of the beach you can get to by heading left. The beach itself ends with the Marina on the north and the bridge to the south, so it should be easy to spot one another and hard to get lost.

Here's the entrance on the map.,-73.890991&hl=en&gl=us

Low tide will be at 11:22am, and I am planning to be on the beach to set up at 10:00am. Feel free to arrive later and stay as long as you like, there is plenty of exploring to do. I'll probably be there until at least 3pm

Please keep in mind that this is NOT a scavenging operation.

This event is on 10-19-2014 iCal

Please log in to RSVP


I was always curious about where the footings of the original Gerritsen Creek Tide Mill was..

Gerritsen Creek tidal mill in the late nineteenth century

Photo by P Ross, courtesy of "A History of Long Island", 1903


Built around 1636, this was one of the very first tide mills built in America


This a view taken around 1899-1909 of the similar looking Vanderveer Tide Mill's wheel and sluiceway in Canarsie, Brooklyn. The Vanderveer Mill's wheel may have also been stream fed,

(pic by Daniel Berry Austin_Brooklyn Museum)


Proteus Gowanus was researching the history of Brooklyn Tidal Mills with the Tide Mill Institute ( for a tidal energy history of the Gowanus Canal.

This is the 1924 aerial view of the (now much changed) Dead Horse Bay area that can be used to search for the location of the original tidal mill works.


For a great discussion of the carcass processing, soap making and the landfilling history of this Jamaica Bay ecosystem, an excellent reference is "Gotham Unbound - The Ecological History of Greater New York", by Ted Steinberg (2014)

Reply to this comment...

This is so cool, Eymund. Thanks!

Reply to this comment...

Amazing Eymund!! Good luck Bronwen! Would love to join but wont make it. I look forward to seeing the results.

Reply to this comment...

Login to comment.