2007-04-26 / Little Old Canarsie

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Filling In The Dirt Roads With Clam Shells

Around the year 1918 there were quite a few streets around Canarsie that had been dirt roads and were paved with crushed oyster and clam shells, which made a good solid foundation so that horses and wagons wouldn't get stuck in the soft mud every time it rained. Conklin Avenue was one, from East 92 Street to about 50 feet and the side of Remsen Avenue, which was not through until about 1925 or 1926, and East 93rd Street from Avenue K to about 400 feet north where it ended by the Baisley Farm.

Then there was a lane called Tiemans Lane, which ran through to the house and yard of Hewlett Seaman who lived in one house and rented out the others. Just where the entrance is to Canarsie High School, on East 97th from Avenue L down to the shanties of Indian Creek, was a beautiful street where Bill Smith and brother Harry lived, also John Brodie, a great baseball manager of local teams; and the Bach family which were the only ones at the spot those days.

There also were Salt Meadows where Serene Village is now, and also east of Rockway Parkway, which is now Seaview Village. These Meadow Lands had what was known as Salt Meadows where Serene Ponds, which were small little lakes which had stagnant water, which used to breed lots of mosquitos until all of this land was filled in by the contractor who dug out the dirt and rocks to build the 8th Avenue independent subway line along Fulton Street and carted all this to good old Canarsie to fill in all the meadow land. I think that his name was Civil and his brother was in charge of dumping all the dirt and rocks here in the early 1920's.

Before this land was filled, many a great fire swept all this land and it just burned itself out, as there were only the Warner Home at Rockaway Parkway and the three houses of Frank Kraftmeyers down at the end of Tiemans Lane, which were in no danger as a Creek at this time and only ran just about where East 98th Street is now on the east and going west ran as far as East 87 Street.

We had our muddy streets, as there were not many of them with sewers and most homes here had cesspools in front or at the rear of the house as the old Canarsie people made their living here from Jamaica Bay and they didn't want to ruin the bay with sewers from their homes, but the city ran them from every place else and did the job anyway.

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