Water World in New York Gutter

The corner of 108th Street and Broadway in Manhattan is home to a persistent puddle.  Although its borders expand and contract with the city’s rainfall, the puddle rarely dries completely.

After Hurricane Irene, it assumed epic proportions.

Wildlife of one kind or another, seen or unseen, is all around us. A city puddle is a habitat for vast numbers of microorganisms, including algae, bacteria, fungi, insect larvae and minuscule crustaceans. For these tiny New Yorkers who thrive in standing water, their puddle is the world.

Over a month later, the puddle serves pedestrians – the few who care to look, anyway –  as a natural reflecting pool in an unnatural environment, revealing dream images from the far side of Broadway.

Yesterday, the bizarrely balmy temperatures had finally dried most of the water, revealing a long-submerged grating.

Today, Monday, the puddle is gone and so, presumably, are the little creatures and other organisms that inhabited it.

But wait. What’s with the grating to the storm sewer?

Although strangely beautiful, it is completely nonfunctional. No wonder the puddle never empties, and must wait for evaporation to do its magic.  I suppose the grating is now simply an intermittently visible found art object.

Most NYC corners have open gratings that, although often clogged, at least give the reassuring appearance of functionality.

But not at 108th and Broadway.  So, hmm.

Explore posts in the same categories: 2011, Fall, In the City, October, Seasons, Wildlife/Natural History

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3 Comments on “Water World in New York Gutter”

  1. Georgia (local ecologist) Says:

    On the one hand it’s not a bad thing to have one less storm drain in the city but on the other, it would be useful to direct rainfall to places where it’s needed.


    • Are storm drains a problem because of where they direct the water? That’s an interesting issue, and not one I know much about. But it certainly isn’;t good to have a huge pool of stagnant, filthy water that takes weeks to dry out. The bacteria count in there must be astronomical! AT least, the mosquitoes are done breeding for the year!

  2. Charlotte Says:

    I don’t know why but I find it so funny that your neighborhood drain is a phoney. Love the gray on gray, Esau and the gratings.


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