Every Friday, we discuss, debate and dissect the week’s theme and stories here, on The Park Bench. It’s a place where we take you behind the scenes with our journalists and subjects; where we curate the comments that you post on the site, as well as your longer reflections that you send to us via email. 

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Lost Rivers: The Movie

Apparently, urban explorer Steve Duncan is not alone—there are other intrepid souls out there, splashing in their own cities’ sewer systems, tracking our forgotten rivers and streams. Catbird Productions has shared with Narratively the trailer, below, to their fascinating upcoming documentary, “Lost Rivers.” 

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Even More Lost Streams

In the Forgotten Streams of New York, Steve Duncan explores four of New York’s underground waterways. Readers may have noticed from his photos that these are only four of the many streams, sewers, brooks and brakes that Duncan has waded his way through.

On his Watercourses site, Duncan is gathering information about New York’s forgotten waterways, sharing details he has found about the streams mentioned in his article, as well as other sites, including:

* Linden Brook in Long Island City, Queens (photo above)

* Wallabout Creek in Brooklyn

* Sunfish Creek in Kips Bay, Manhattan

* Spuyten Duyvill Creek, running between the Bronx and Manhattan

Duncan’s collaborative project to document the waterways of old New York depends on tips from readers. If you know of a site near you that should be added to his project, send him a tip.

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World’s Fair Rock Star Remembers His 15 Minutes

All this talk about the World’s Fair inspired Steven Rosenberg, from Connecticut, to dust off his old photos from ’64, when his band, The Shads, played at the fair’s New England Pavilion.

Rosenberg’s band, The Shads, performing at the World’s Fair (Photos courtesy Steven Rosenberg)
Rosenberg’s band, The Shads, performing at the World’s Fair (Photos courtesy Steven Rosenberg)

Rosenberg, the drummer, wrote in that the fair “was a sort of look into the future”—a future of newfangled gadgets and culture, though, sadly, no cushy record deal for the young Shads. He added, “my fifteen minutes of fame found me signing autograph books and enjoying the adulation of our hometown kids that came by bus to see the show. Fame and fortune are elusive, but we had a chance to see Walt Disney and Lucile Ball in golf carts and marveled at the ingenuity and promise for a transcendent world. Our performance also foreshadowed a brief career in music.”

Perhaps a Shads reunion for the upcoming fiftieth anniversary of the fair?

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A Subterranean Collaboration is Born

In his story about a subterranean mystery that has lingered in Queens since the ’64 World’s Fair, Nicholas Hirshon interviewed two people vying to lead their own excavation efforts in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. But after his article ran, something strange happened.

I envy anyone who attended the 1964 World’s Fair. The thought of its futuristic exhibits and rides makes me wish that I was born a generation earlier. Today, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park contains only a few relics from the fair, most notably the Unisphere and the New York State Pavilion. There’s something so alluring about these remnants of an event that drew 51 million people, and it’s fascinating to think another exhibit may have been “buried alive” beneath the park.

An unidentified woman poses near the Underground Home (Photo: Bill Cotter ofworldsfairphotos.com)
An unidentified woman poses near the Underground Home (Photo: Bill Cotter ofworldsfairphotos.com)
An image pertaining to show the “demolition” of the Underground Home, after the fair had ended. (Photo: Bruce Davidson © Bruce Davidson/Magnum Photos, Inc.)
An image pertaining to show the “demolition” of the Underground Home, after the fair had ended. (Photo: Bruce Davidson © Bruce Davidson/Magnum Photos, Inc.)

Not many people know about the Underground Home, so I was excited to report on Dr. Lori Walters’ proposal to excavate what may remain of the bizarre bunker. After Narratively published the story on Wednesday, Dr. Walters asked if I could put her in touch with another source in the piece, Steven Quinterno, who also wants to launch a dig. Walters said she hopes to talk to Quinterno early next year about collaborating on the project. When I forwarded Walters’ email address to Quinterno, he replied enthusiastically, “Dr. Walters can expect an email from me very shortly. This is truly the best case scenario.”

The article also initiated a brief discussion on the World’s Fair Community website, where Baby Boomers gather to reminisce about the fair. One of my sources, “CSI: NY” writer Trey Callaway, posted the article and it soon drew a response from one of the site’s administrators, Randy Treadway. I had reached out to Treadway while reporting the article, but he politely said he was hosting friends from out of town and was unavailable to talk. On the World’s Fair Community thread, Treadway kicked himself for not putting me in touch with another source: Johnny Mann, a singer whose album was sold at the Underground Home. Treadway said he tracked down Mann in North Carolina a few years ago, and Mann offered to discuss his involvement in the Underground Home to anybody who “wants to write an article about it.”

Maybe next time.

Nicholas Hirshon

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