Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dead Horse Bay

When Andrea and I were in NYC the other week we paid a long awaited visit to Dead Horse Bay.  I had heard about it a year or so ago and since then have begged Ben to go with me every time we were in New York, but alas my begging was in vain and he never wanted to go.  When I told Andrea about it, her ears perked and her eyes sparkled...I knew I had to bring her! 
It.  Was.  Awesome!
 What is Dead Horse Bay you ask?  And why is so awesome you ask?  Well...it's a little known beach off the south shore of Brooklyn.  It's very well hidden (we passed it twice and had to go over a toll bridge and back...but still worth it), this beach has quite the history.  It's not a destination for most as it's essentially an extremely littered beach with trash everywhere. 

And I mean everywhere.  But it's not your average littered beach.  Luckily we didn't see any nasty syringes or toxic waste.  What we did see were tons and tons of antique bottles.  Back in the 1920's and 30's, Dead Horse Bay was NYC dump.  The dump got full in the late 30's and they capped it off (whatever that means).  The cap burst in the 50's and all the trash spewed everywhere and to this day the waves and the tide uncover and reveal new long hidden trash, or treasure, whatever your view point might be.  All paper and most organic waste rotted away and today glass bottles and rusty metal and old old rubber and porcelain pieces and dish shards and bricks and other building materials remain.

Andrea and I were on the look out for anything interesting.  She is getting married next year and was hoping for a nice stash of glass bottles for centerpieces.  I was open minded to all sorts of stuff.  Most of the glass is broken, so the challenge is finding something whole.

  Is this handle attached to anything??  Nope...

 Does this bottle have a bottom?  Yes!!  Full of sand too...

 An 1800's porcelain sink (or toilet).

A trash bin washed up on shore...irony at it's best.

 You're probably wondering where Dead Horse Bay got it's name.  That's an interesting bit of history too.  Before the bay was a dump, in the 1800's for many many years there were a dozen or so horse rendering plants near the shore.  Before cars were invented, people in the city traveled by horse and carriage and when the horses died, they were sent to the glue factory where they were processed into...well...glue.  The meat was made into fertilizer and the bones were cut into pieces and boiled to extract "glue liquor".  (Note: most glue isn't made this way anymore, but jello still is!)  The cut up bones are still found in great abundance on the beach.

 A solitary bench for when you need a break from searching.  Andrea and I only had about an hour at the beach before we had to head into Manhattan to get set up for American Made, but we both made it out with two huge bags full each.

This is what I brought home.  Andrea got mostly bottles, but I decided to take a variety of things...a lot of which I'm not sure why I took...but lots of which I had ideas for.  The old porcelain light sockets are very interesting and could be wired into small desk lamps.  I found many small milk glass makeup and lotion containers..the lids have probably long rusted away.  And old rusty metal pot (bottom left)...I'm thinking as a casual outdoor plant pot.  I also got a few broken jug tops that could be taper candle holders.  I got some other weird porcelain electrical doodads that simply looked sculptural.

I got two big bottles and lots of smaller bottles.  I gave most of the medium bottles to Andrea for her wedding.  I also brought a few bones...they're over a hundred years old and to some may seem gross...but I think they're a great example of natural history meets human history.

Big bottle with a weird texture that you can't see in the photo; a cool milkglass jar (can you imagine that all makeup and lotion came in these jars before plastic was invented?); a horse bone; two of the tiny jars.  (Can you imagine the people of the future digging for treasures in our dumps of today?  Weird to think about!)

All of this goodies still need a good scrubbing.  Hopefully soon I'll be able to post a few photos after they've found their place in our home.   

 Thank you so much Dead Horse Bay for your bounty!  May we meet again soon...


laurie -magpie ethel said...

What a totally fun beach to explore. So glad you got to visit and find some treasures.

AquaMarine Queen said...

If I can face the Ghetto Flea Market, I can face Dead Horse Bay :0) Sounds like fascinating treasure hunting!

Lisa W. said...

Wow ! What an interesting place ! I have never heard of it.... or anyplace like it. Thanks for sharing.

BucksCountyFolkArt said...

Looks like you took the same trip we did this past summer - twice! Now I've got lots of little bottles I'm happy I saved, but not sure what to do with! I'm not surprised you got some old Ponds cream jars - there are tons of them there! My favorite find is a 1930s amber Clorox bottle. : )

Unknown said...

wow..very..VERY cool! it's on my bucket list! lol!

Shara said...

I have never heard of Dead Horse Bay, but I swear, it is on my bucket list now and I WILL go there someday. How do you think it fared with Sandy this week, though? What an awesome place to go treasure hunting!