The letter below this message was published in this week's Queens Tribune.
Also attached is a photo of the Flushing River, just before the 1939 World's Fair. Meadow Lake was already complete, but it was still possible to ride a canoe from College Point to Willow Lake. In the background is another long-gone waterway, Mill Creek, which was located on the site of Flushing Airport.
In a postwar map of the Kissena Corridor acquisitions, you can clearly see Kissena Creek on the right, and Horse Brook on the bottom left (draining into Meadow Lake)
Another map shows Horse Brook. My home stands atop its former path.
A final map shows the pre-1930s wetlands, along with long-drained waterways and the pre-Ice Age path of the Hudson River, which went through Queens, along the route of the Van Wyck Expressway. The glaciers created a ridge through central Queens, forcing the Hudson on a western path. The valley formed by Flushing meadows was once proposed for a trans- Queens canal in the early 20th century. Hopefully these maps and photos explain why Flushing Meadows is prone to flooding.
To the Editor:
The Tribune's recent report on flooding in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park should not be taken as a surprise, considering the park's natural history. For centuries, it has been a wetland, before being tamed for the World's Fairs. With a high water table, it is clear that after a heavy rain, it would take time for the precipitation to seep into the already saturated soil.
Especially noteworthy is the area between the park's golf course and the Long Island Expressway-Van Wyck Interchange, where the Flushing River had been driven underground into a sewer, in preparation for the 1964 World's Fair. In this area, there are usually large puddles after it rains, and the soil appears to be sinking.
Could it be that Mother Nature is trying to restore the river to its past glory? Recently, the New York Sun reported on canoe enthusiasts enjoying the restored Bronx River. Even Los Angeles has plans to restore its namesake river. Will we ever reach the day when it will be possible to take a canoe from Willow Lake to College Point without disembarking?
I doubt it. Our city's neglect of Flushing Meadows is systematic. From the rusting Tent of Tomorrow, the abandoned boathouse, parking on the grass, and missing mosaic tiles, it is clear that the mosquitoes will continue breeding without interference, making our beautiful park unusable.
Forest Hills, NY