It’s there through rainy season but also during drought. A puddle has made elegant E. 64th Street, between Park and Lexington Avenues, its permanent home.
Locals keep asking why it persists on that block of exemplary townhouses, not to mention the venerable Russell Sage Foundation.
Quiz question: The E. 64th Street puddle is caused by . . .
a. A broken fire hydrant.
b. A leaky underground pipe.
c. A washing machine dumping the rinse cycle onto the street.
d. None of the above
And the answer is …
d. None of the above.
The building of Manhattan paved over many primeval brooks and streams. But some, like the De Voor Mills Stream under 64th Street, just want to be free. The puddle is a spring that feeds the stream. During heavy rains, it fills nearby basements with water. (A superintendent at one of the nearby buildings told Malina that he keeps a sump pump in the basement for such occasions.)
I overheard a mother say to her daughter as they walked by, ‘That’s why this is the mosquito block!’
The historic Viele map of 1865 identifies bodies of water still coursing under the grid. Check out this section of the map:
Stacy Levy is an environmental artist whose works make natural patterns and processes more visible. She recently took a group of volunteers to the site of the puddles (actually, there are two) and supervised their drawing of swirls representing the turbulent water under the sidewalks.
A man and his two “tween” daughters walked by and joined in.
Neighbors call the police
Some neighbors called the police, understandably concerned that the group was defacing the sidewalk. Their worries were dispelled upon learning that the medium was chalk. As it happened, the weekend rains washed away most of the drawings.
So the E. 64th Street puddle is actually a spring feeding the De Voor Mills Stream. Henceforth, let’s call the puddle a “spring.” A lot more elegant, don’t you think?