Pictures Of New York Harbor From The 1970s When It Was A Dump


Photo: Arthur Tress/U.S. National Archives

Arthur Tress is one of the hundreds of freelance photographers hired by the Environmental Protection Agency in the 1970s to document mounting environmental problems in America.  The following set of images shows the deterioration of the New York Harbor area in 1973.

Scenes from Staten Island and Brooklyn depict refuse-laden streams, beaches covered with garbage and abandoned cars. 

A sign warns of polluted water at a Staten Island beach. The recently completed Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is seen in the background.

A sewer pipe is prepared for installation on new housing in Grant City, Staten Island — part of the building boom touched off by the completion of the bridge.

This sign encourages Manhattan and Brooklyn residents to cross the bridge to find good living in Staten Island.

Household trash has been dumped in front of the incinerator plant at Gravesend Bay in South Brooklyn.

Ashes from the incineration plant are loaded onto a barge and taken to the ocean for dumping.

The landfill dump also serves as a playground for neighbourhood boys.

Plumb Beach in Brooklyn, just past Sheepshead Bay, was a popular spot for sunbathing in the 1950s before pollution and urban development changed the landscape.

Young girls hang out on the beach, which is accessed from a parking lot off the Belt Parkway.

Children play on a rusty, old boat at Plumb Beach.

Land along Jamaica Bay owned by JFK Airport is littered with tires.

Gas pumps at Sheephead Bay Marina.

The entrance to an abandoned parachute jump tower at Steepleehase Amusement Park on Coney Island.

An inlet in a Jamaica Bay community across from JFK airport.

Rusty oil cans pile up near a home in a Jamaica Bay community.

Waste from this home in a community that lacks a municipal sewage system is carried into Jamaica Bay via ditch.

The construction of this high-rise apartment on the Breezy Point Peninsula, south of Jamaica Bay, was stopped by the city to preserve the area for public recreation.

Sand covers an abandoned car on a Breezy Point beach.

An abandoned ice cream wagon in Jamaica Bay.

An unsewered house at Hunter's Point, adjacent to JFK airport. The community suffered from noise and pollution problems.

A man digs for clams at Spermacetti Cove on Sandy Hook, one of the few remaining uncontaminated areas on the Jersey Coast.

An abandoned car in Jamaica Bay.

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