Just across the road from the Floyd Bennett Airfield on Barren Island is a short trail that leads down to Dead Horse Bay. Back when Barren Island was actually an island, it was home to many horse-rendering plants. Some 70 years later, bones still wash up on the beaches and can be seen among other flotsam and jetsam. The beach is also covered with thousands of bottles, that tinkle softly in the gentle waves.

You can read more about Dead Horse Bay, and see more liminal landscapes on my photo essay for Slate

I have given guided artist's and writer's walks around Dead Horse Bay for Underwater New York.

“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…Sand, coal and garbage were used as landfill to connect Barren Island to the Brooklyn mainland in the 1920′s, and the Barren Island Airport, later renamed Floyd Bennett Field, opened in 1927.” –New York Times‘ “F.Y.I.” 1999

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