Bushwick Inlet

First Meserole House Daguerreotype, ca. 1848

Today Bushwick inlet is a tiny, truncated body of water, but once it was a far bigger body of water called Bushwick Creek. The headwaters of the Creek reached deep inot today what is McCarran Park and an arm of the stream reached all the way to Roebling Street in Williamsburg. Around the waters of the creek there was an extensive marshland that often flooded, so that is why there were no residents in the park prior to its creation.

The Woodpoint Road, ran from Bushwick Church, along the edge of the salt marsh to the town dock
at about the present Franklin & Green Streets. A branch led to Bushwick Creek and was later called
Fifth Street. Until 1838 it was the only proper road in Greenpoint.

Around 1850 Shipbuilding came to Greenpoint. They realized that the marshland around the creek and eventually the creek itself could be filled in to create land for shipyards. They threw up a bulkhead in the creek and filled in land behind it. Quay Street was created in this way and the Western portions of Oak, Calyer, Mesrole and Noble were made by using landfill and by leveling the glacial hills that were once a feature of Greenpoint.

Sadly, one of the sources of fill was the hill where the first Greenpointer, Dirck the Norseman, built the first stone house in Greenpoint near the intersection of Calyer and Franklin on the southern bank of Bushwick Creek. Dirck VOLCKERTSE’S one and a half story stone house, built about 1645, stood on a knoll of land on the north side of Bushwick Creek near Calyer between West and Franklin Streets. The creek, earlier was known as NOORMAN’S Kil, named for Dirck VOLCKERTSE, who was the Noorman.
The house, later known as Jacobus COLYER House. Hence the name, CALYER.

Volckert DIRCKSEN, the oldest son of Dirck VOLCKERTSEN, built his house near
Bushwick Creek, alias NOORMAN’S Kil, on Norman Avenue between Manhattan Avenue & Lorimer Street.
Later, it was known as the Jacob MESEROLE House.

CLANCY’S coal yard was originally located at the edge of Bushwick Creek. CLANCY made every effort
to have the creek dredged up to the point where his coal yard located but the government refused
to appropriate the necessary money. In order to prove his claim that the creek was navigable he
had a canal boat towed up the creek to his yard. There it remained and rotted and was used for
fire wood. The locality, at North 14th Street & Berry Street, was long known as CLANCY’S Dock, long after
the canal boat and coal yard were no more and with the adjacent flat became famous as the scene
of ball games and bitter bare knuckle fights. CLANCY’S Grove was a name applied to this place.
His Dock was a good place to get gold fish.

This is a description of the inlet written I might guess in the 1920’s or thirties.

The black water of the inlet, wherever it shows between the floating logs which cover half its surface, is streaked and marbled with the slowly eddying refuse of the oil works. From this rises an odor evil and strong. Trucks stream across the bridge, carrying the output of Greenpoint factories—with which products the docks are piled, and laden with which the vessels on the busy river steam away day after day.

Greenpoint is full of smoke and dirt, the noise of machinery and the tread of workingmen’s feet. That it was ever green and blooming and sweet-smelling is as hard to realize as that this slimy little arm of the East River—all the “filling-in” has left of Bushwick Creek—was ever a clear and unpolluted stream.

The vicinity of the old wooden bridge on Bedford Avenue, was the rendezvous of a notorious gang
then known as the Rainmakers. They collected tribute from many unwary pedestrians going to or coming from Greenpoint.

Many of the residents of this area of Western Greenpoint learned that their houses were built on marshland and water during hurricane Sandy. Banker Street and Clifford place had five feet of water and a wall of water rushed up Meserole following the former path of the creek.

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