Dead Horse Bay
On a journey that takes you almost to the Rockaways, in a little inlet of a bay, is one of the most spectacular places I have ever been, especially in a city that is dirty and occasionally covered in trash.
Why is dead horse bay so amazing? Well for one it is dirty and completely covered in trash and it is beautiful.
From the late 1850’s through the early 1930’s this particular bay was used as a dumping ground for all of NYC’s dead animals: Horses, Cows, etc. The bay was also lined with horse-rendering plants (glue factories) and fish oil factories which caused the beach to be littered with animal bones, horse shoes, etc. Then from The 1930’s through the mid 1950’s this beautiful, yet eerie landscape became a landfill for all of NYC’s trash. You may be thinking that all of this sounds disgusting, but this is just the beginning.
I heard about Dead Horse Bay back in the fall and I have been dying to get there ever since, so yesterday I enlisted my boyfriend to go on an adventure with me. We woke up early, had coffee, I packed a lunch, and after adorning boots, gloves and plastic bags (for looting) we were on our way. It was a beautiful day to take the three different buses to what I normally refer to as “the place where the subway ends” when viewing it on a map. We literally had to get off at “the last stop before the bridge and walk down unnamed road.” We walked about 15 minutes down a woodsy path and then we emerged into a treasure hunter’s paradise.
The first thing we see is an old boat washed up on shore and just rotting away. The path let out at the very beginning of the treasures we were about to find. We walked around the corner and then before us was at least half a mile of beach covered with trash, but not the litter you are expecting. The visitors to this place seem to have been very respectable. There were no candy wrappers, soda bottles, or even cigarette butts or used condoms. This trash is prohibition era, collectible and anywhere from 60-80 years old.
The beach is littered with prohibition era liquor bottles, apothecary bottles of all different shapes and sizes, ash trays that scream the 40’s, very old tires, and the richest collection of sea glass I have ever seen and I love sea glass. There was even the remnants of a 1940’s refrigerator and pieces of china and dishware with that floral pattern that I know you have seen in your grandma’s house or somewhere like that.
We had a wonderful afternoon looking, and digging up some buried treasure of our own. A few artsy visitors had even created a bottle tree with a few fully intact bottles they had found. In another spot, a giant tree had been uprooted and the roots had been turned into art, and on the roots were old iron irons, old toys, and many other wonderful treasures. These people were not as greedy as I, and left their favorite findings behind for someone else to enjoy. That being said, we were not that greedy, but only came home with a few prized treasures each.
These treasures (which we looked up on the internet as soon as we got home) include two fully intact prohibition era whiskey bottles, a 1950’s Squibb Aspirin bottle, a very early Johnson and Johnson facial moisturizer container and some early Jergens glass containers (most likely a perfume and an aftershave), some old spark plugs, beautiful amazing sea glass and even a bottle from a bottling company in Mississippi.
.I recommend going when the tide is at its lowest and staying as long as the ocean will let you, because based on the level of wetness, at high tide I would imagine the entire beach practically disappears. If you visit dead horse bay, please understand that just because it is covered in “trash” doesn’t mean you should add your own. Also, check the weather, bring a camera, pack a lunch, and a roll of toilet paper because I guarantee that it is a far trip from any where you will be coming from. Finally, don’t be greedy. Please only take the treasures you feel are the most special. This place has been there for years and it would be a shame if people got greedy and cleaned it out. Also, the animals have turned this into their playground and many of the bottles we found had full little eco-systems living inside them, which was pretty amazing to see and realize yet again how amazing our earth is.
Whether you are a treasure hunter, and urban explorer, a city escaper, or just looking for something cool to do in NYC, this is the place for you.