It was once the busiest shipping channel in the country. During World War Two more tonnage moved through Newtown Creek than over the whole length of the Mississippi River. Today, the creek is mostly forgotten, as it is lined with abandoned factories. However, Newtown Creek still handles a considerable amount of water traffic. Shoreline industries are in daily operation, shipping and receiving barge loads of material.
The Conrail Historical Society, a non-profit organization, is planning a waterfront tour of Newtown Creek for the Spring of l998. This organization has hosted four waterfront tours of the New York Harbor area in the past two years, coordinated by their director, Bernard Ente, who lives in Maspeth. Maps and historical information are provided. Past and present facilities will be discussed by local historians aboard the ship. We are hoping to have Community Board 5 Chairman, Frank Principe aboard as a guest speaker. Mr.Principe was in charge of industrial development along Newtown Creek during World War Two. At the time, there were over 500 factories operating in the area.
The tour of Newtown Creek will be part of a seven-hour cruise, which begins in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Our ship will sail up the East River, explore Newtown Creek., and continue up into the Harlem River before returning to Brooklyn. Local residents who only wish to ride on the Newtown Creek portion of the tour may board at the public dock on 44th Drive in Long Island City.
For more information, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Bernard Ente, Newtown Creek Cruise, Box 780568, Maspeth, N.Y. ll378-0568.
THE NEW YORK CONNECTING RAILROAD
By Bernard Ente
A major freight railroad snakes right through our neighborhood. Long trains, carrying thousands of tons of food, paper, stone, and lumber, arrive and depart daily. The trains travel through the heart of Woodside, Maspeth, Middle Village, and Glendale. Yet, this railroad goes completely unnoticed as the tracks are mostly out of sight and there are no grade crossings to hold up traffic. This marvel of engineering is known as the New York Connecting Railroad, and this year it celebrated its 80th birthday.
The railroad was built from The Bronx into Queens as a joint venture between the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New Haven Railroad. Its most outstanding feature is the majestic Hell Gate Bridge. Amtrak passenger trains to and from New England use the “Connecting RR” to access Sunnyside Yard in Long Island City, and then travel into Pennsylvania Station. Freight trains cross the bridge and travel into Fresh Pond Yard in Glendale.
During World War II, this railroad played an important role in transporting war materials, manufactured in New England and bound for Europe, to their port of embarkation in New York. Today, Conrail and Providence & Worcester Railroad freight trains operate over these tracks.
A book about the New York Connecting Railroad will be published next year by the Long Island Sunrise Trails (LIST) Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. For more information, write to JPCA member Bernard Ente, LIST, Box 780568, Maspeth, N.Y. ll378-0568.