March 14, 2011
I took the picture below on a lonely stretch of beach in Brooklyn and trust me, there aren’t many lonely stretches of beach here. The lights in the background are South Brooklyn looking from Sea Gate toward Bath Beach.
I was first there twelve to fifteen years ago. It was a very cool place and fairly isolated. There were remains of some very, very old industry there. All along the beach were rusted ship chains attached to the ground, remains of a wooden pier, and large rusted metal rings set into the ground. There was also a large trapdoor set into the ground. It was dark and secluded and every bit as Scooby Doo as it sounds. When I returned last year there was a big change. Some years back we had a very bad winter storm that washed out most of the beach in South Brooklyn. The army corps of engineers came in and replaced all the sand in Coney Island and Sea Gate but they added far more than I ever saw in my lifetime. For example, you may be familiar with the old song “Under the Boardwalk.” That was based on the Coney Island boardwalk and all of my life the boardwalk was ten feet above the sand. Now the beach is so elevated that the sand comes right up to the bottom of the boardwalk.
In Sea Gate, this means that most of the cool artifacts are now buried. Even the tall fence that separated Sea Gate’s gated community is now so short in places that you can simply step over it. The pilings you see in the picture used to stand tall in the water, stretching into the sea. Now they are buried in sand.
The picture was taken in extreme low-light conditions. The flash was useless and the only illumination was from the moon. I needed to do some fooling around with some imaging programs to produce that picture but it is a very good representation of what I saw. I have always had a soft spot for black and white photography and I think the graininess adds to the haunting quality of the picture.