To start off this story, lets first go back thousands and thousands of years. Back to a recent Ice Age in a place you may have heard of. Today, it is called New York City. During the Ice Age, the city was covered with three thousand feet of glacier; an unfathomable amount. As the Earth began to warm up, the glacier started to melt. Some of the meltwater from the glacier formed the Narrows river, and the neighborhood of Bay Ridge has gotten its name from the glacial ridge that once existed.
When settlers came to New York, they had no way of trading or communicating between Kings and Richmond County (modern day Brooklyn and Staten Island, respectively), so they built a wharf. A wharf is defined as "a landing place or pier where ships may tie up and load or unload."
In 1741, Benjamin Franklin was the Postmaster of Brooklyn, and used the wharf to send mail to Boston and Georgia. During the Battle of Brooklyn, the Civil War, and towards the end of WWII, the military used the wharf for their ships. It is pretty amazing to think that I went in a place where the great Ben Franklin also stood. It is a historic landmark, albeit one that's locked up, crumbling, and of great obscurity to the general public.
Denyse Wharf [Foreground]
Since the construction of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge [pictured], the wharf has been rendered pretty useless. Instead of slowly bringing passengers from borough to borough like the ferry did, the bridge allows for more rapid transport by car.
Well, I decided to do some thorough exploring and check the place out. Here is what it looks like underneath the wharf (at low tide, obviously).
This better lit photo shows that the top was mostly made of brick.
The concrete slabs have turned rainbow colored because of the tide washing the brick's color away onto the slabs.
Some graffiti and the odd tire here and there.
Aboveground, things aren't doing so well. The wharf has been so weather-beaten that the slabs closer to the water have either collapsed or else are very shaky.
Now, Urban Exploration is usually not a term synonymous with activism, but hear me out on this one. Thomas Greene, an "activist and educator", has proposed attaching a barge to the wharf and using it as a public environmental science laboratory for children. This place is pretty derelict. Trash litters the beach and fishermen sneak in every now and then. Supporting Mr. Greene would clean the place up, add a science lab, and make the location open to the public.
You can find his contact information here (It is preferable you talk to him if you are in the area and want to help or have some influence which will lead to his plan being brought to fruition. Who knows, someday, it just might happen...)
Thanks to the New York Aquarium for its good sum of information on the location.
EDIT (11/19/11) :Someone has finally stepped in and begun cleaning the place. They installed a new padlock and put trash in a big blue dumpster. There are still innumerable pieces of driftwood, but it's good to see that someone still cares about this site.
Make sure to follow this blog or at least check back on it every once in a while so that you will see my future posts as I explore rooftops, storm drains, and general abandonments. I will leave you with another teaser photo (which may or may not relate to the next adventure). Till then!