The pink and white flowers are crownvetch. I assumed they were wildflowers, but perhaps they were planted intentionally here on the old Edgemere Landfill, as crownvetch is considered "a useful but overused erosion control plant. Its spreading growth habit, and strong root system provide soil holding ability and ground cover." Crownvetch was apparently widely seeded in Appalachian coal country to help revegetate abandoned mine sites.
The Edgemere Landfill closed in 1991 and was capped by 1997 or so. It's now part of Rockaway Community Park but is still not open to the public. It's a surprisingly beautiful place and, with a peak elevation of about 70 feet, offers commanding views of Jamaica Bay and the surrounding low-lying areas. This shot is looking toward JFK Airport; you can see the air traffic control tower and a jet coming in to land (zoom in).
After the Edgemere Landfill was closed in 1991, some 700,000 cubic yards of topsoil were needed to cap the landfill. At the urging of community leaders, the city agreed to bring in the soil by barge instead of truck. These mirror-image piers (aerial views: 1996 and now) were constructed around 1995 as part of a conveyor system used in unloading the barges. Once the piers were no longer needed for that purpose, the city converted them into fishing platforms in what is now Rockaway Community Park.
If you gaze into the distance (zoom in), you can see the skylines of Lower and Midtown Manhattan.
This pathway in Rockaway Community Park leads up to the piers we'll see in the next post.
After finishing my walk today, I headed over to where Beach 86th Street terminates at Jamaica Bay. I climbed out on the nearby jetty to get a good look at this row of old bungalows built on a pier over the water at the northern end of Beach 84th Street. Because of how the houses are lined up, they're mostly obscured from view on Beach 84th Street; in fact, I didn't even realize they were there when I walked the street. I only discovered them afterward while looking at aerial photos of the area. As we learned back then:
These unusual houses, apparently more than a century old, were in the news back in 2008 when the state passed a law allowing the city to sell the pier to the homeowners who lived atop it. A few years later, the artist Duke Riley featured the bungalows in one of the stained-glass pieces he designed for the nearby Beach 98th Street subway station.There are about 16 houses standing on the pier now, but there were once more. I count seven additional houses in aerial images from both 1924 and 1980. (Here's a 2012 view for comparison.) In the 1924 aerial, and even, to a much lesser extent, in this 1996 one, you can also see a number of houses built out on other nearby piers jutting into the bay.
These two 19-story towers are the tallest of the eleven buildings in the Arverne View apartment complex. Originally called Ocean Village when it was erected in the 1970s, this affordable housing development was one of the very few construction projects completed on the vast and vacant urban renewal lands of Arverne and Edgemere prior to 2001. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the new owners of Ocean Village began a full renovation of the troubled, run-down complex — hence the much cheerier facades — and renamed the place Arverne View.