Dead Horse Bay

As I mentioned in my previous post, my mom and I took a day trip to Dead Horse Bay–which lies at the southern edge of Brooklyn. Dead Horse Bay was named because of the horse rendering plants that surrounded the area in the 1850’s. From the New York Times: “Dead Horse Bay sits at the western edge of a marshland once dotted by more than two dozen horse-rendering plants, fish oil factories and garbage incinerators. From the 1850’s until the 1930’s, the carcasses of dead horses and other animals from New York City streets were used to manufacture glue, fertilizer and other products at the site. The chopped-up, boiled bones were later dumped into the water. The squalid bay, then accessible only by boat, was reviled for the putrid fumes that hung overhead. A rugged community of laborers, many of them Irish, Polish and Italian immigrants, lived in relative isolation on neighboring Barren Island, which shared the bay’s unsavory reputation.”

 During the turn of the century the marsh also began to be used as a landfill and was filled and capped by the 1930’s. The cap burst in the 1950’s spewing trash all over the beach. Since then garbage continuously leaks onto the beach from the landfill and into the ocean from Dead Horse Bay.
While a garbage filled beach does not sound like a fun place to visit, I found the area very tranquil and eerily romantic. Littered with both broken and intact bottles from another era along with the occasional horse bones and various other garbage (leather shoe soles, random pieces of metal, rubber hot water bottles from the 30’s) it is a scavenger’s dreamland. Dead Horse Bay is magic. I am glad I went with my mom too. I have lived in New York for over ten years and she has seen the sights–multiple times! This adventure was something a bit strange that neither of us had done and we had so much fun. She also walked away with a bunch of colorful broken glass for a future mosaic project:
And I got pretty bottles to put around my apartment:
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