The East River separates Manhattan from Long Island, and we live about 300 feet from it here in Astoria. When walking along the shoreline of nearby Astoria Park, your first thought probably isn’t “wow, what a gorgeous natural habitat in the heart of New York” but instead “wow, there are probably decades of dead bodies mired in that muck.”
I don’t know a lot about the health of the East River ecosystem, if it’s slowly recovering from the days when the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn shorelines were heavily industrial and people didn’t give a second thought to dumping toxic materials overboard. The reason it’s so hard to tell? The water doesn’t look alive, and the shoreline — at least in Astoria Park — is covered by broken glass. When waves roll in, it sounds like wind chimes, which is the glass clanging together. Still, the park is an incredibly charming place, one of my favorite spots in the whole world:
And today, I had some confirmation that there are at least two signs of life: cormorants and fish. As I was walking Charlie, I noticed a cormorant zooming around just under the water. Then, she surfaced right by us, a small fish in her beak! Wow! I watched her keep fishing, and in under two minutes she caught about 9 more fish. I would have kept watching but Charlie was utterly bored and ready to move on.