Newtown Creek on the AP: A Brief Timeline

by GWAPP on

Over the weekend, the Associated Press put out an article on Newtown Creek’s dirty history and recent clean-up efforts. The article was published by Huffington Post, NPR and USA Today among other news outlets. About time our local creek got some national love and attention (and disgusted looks.)

A Brief Timeline of Newtown Creek: (based on the article)

19th Century: Rockefeller operated refineries open along the banks of Newtown Creek.

20th Century: Commercial vessels and factories dump or leak hazardous waste into the creek.

1950: “Petroleum gases from the hidden spill seeped into the sewer and caught fire, causing an explosion that blew dozens of manhole covers three stories into the air, shattering windows in hundreds of buildings and ripping a street open. Three people were injured.”

30 million gallons of oil spills into Newton Creek from oil processing facilities from the 1950s – 1980s.

2010: Newtown Creek is declared a Superfund site by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

2010: Exxon Mobil case is settled.

2013: Exxon Mobil begins soil boring activity in East Greenpoint. *Not from the article, but just wanted to bring it up.

Additionally, the article notes how more than 300,000 people live within a mile of the creek. When you consider the high-rise waterfront developments that are currently in progress that number is about to increase greatly. Maybe that explains the recent attention our beloved creek is receiving. As the article quotes Karl LaRocca, “Now we’ve had this reversal where the waterfront is this desirable property, and that’s why they’re cleaning up.”



The Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks & Planning, Inc. ("GWAPP") is a not-for-profit group, 501(c)(3), comprised of individuals, community organizations, religious institutions, and concerned citizens from the Greenpoint-Williamsburg communities dedicated to the development of parks and public access on the Greenpoint waterfront.
  • Michael Heimbinder commented:

    Inaccurate statement, please correct:

    “1989: 30 million gallons of oil spills into Newton Creek from oil processing facilities.”


    • Heather Van De Mark

      Heather Van De Mark commented:

      Updated, thanks Michael.