Author celebrates Jamaica Bay in volume of historic photos
First-time author Dan Hendrick hopes his new book about Jamaica Bay will raise the bay’s self-esteem. It might seem like a strange choice of words, but to understand the bay is to understand the dissipation of the grand plans for a deep water port and large recreation area that never materialized at the turn of the 20th century. The bay is still an oasis amidst the miles of asphalt and concrete that line New York City, but looks can be deceiving. In fact, the last 100 years have not been kind to the bay. And with its essential salt marshes disappearing at an alarming rate, the bay needs a bit of pep talk.
“I do hope the book can help give the bay its rightful place in New York City’s history,” Hendrick, the editor-in-chief of the Queens Chronicle said in a telephone interview this week.
Hendrick was first exposed to the bay as a reporter at the Chronicle. The 35-year-old is native of Michigan but came to New York to attend Columbia and took up journalism after graduation.
Through his reporting he came to understand the environmental issues facing the bay and also the people who populate the working and middle-class neighborhoods on its banks, such as Broad Channel.
When he found out there wasn’t a book about the bay, he saw a scoop.
“There wasn’t much out there on the bay outside of something the National Park Service had published,” Hendrick said. “This is meant as an introduction. You want something that people are going to read.”
The book, in fact, is very accessible. Through the assistance of people Hendrick knows and extensive research, primarily at Queens Library’s venerable Long Island room, Hendrick amassed a bevy of pictures that will take readers inside the bay’s long and storied history. The book, Hendrick said, is designed to tell the bay’s story through the eye’s of people who lived and worked on its waters.
“It’s not a textbook or doctoral thesis,” he said. “It’s meant to be an approachable book that people can understand.”
Hendrick’s book, simply titled “Jamaica Bay” is part of an Arcadia Publishing series called “Images of America,” which Hendrick said was started to tell the stories of America’s neighborhoods. Arcadia also recently published a book about Whitestone and Hendrick said other editions about Queens are planned.
A book party for Hendrick’s book will be held Nov. 16 at Grind, a coffee shop in Sunnyside, located at 39-24 Queens Blvd, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Hendrick will also read from his book on Nov. 30 at King Manor Museum, 153rd Street and Jamaica Avenue in Jamaica, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
By Craig Giammona
©Times Ledger 2006