Down at the edge of Jamaica Bay, beneath the subway tracks and next to the airport, flows one of the most-seen but least-known creeks in New York City. It meanders past 100-year-old boat clubs and bungalows, travels underneath the AirTrain and the A train, and is the main reason that most of the nearby communities exist.
But to millions of visitors who look out over its waters while on their way to JFK, it has no name. And for many of the residents who live along its shoreline, its path remains a mystery, though its waters flood their streets during nearly every full moon.
This is Hawtree Creek, which passes through a pocket of New York City that feels like it belongs to a different century. Families living near this waterway still take "the boardwalk into town" like their grandparents once did, still keep a boat or two in the dock out back, and still navigate gravel roads through marshlands to get to their homes, which are built on pilings out over the water.