Tucked within the verdant embrace of John Street Park in DUMBO, Brooklyn, resides a tribute to an unsung hero of New York's environmental lore - the unassuming oyster.
You can hear more Brooklyn stories with Gesso’s self-guided New York audio walking tours, which you can experience at your own pace.
For now, let's dive into the history behind these unconventional city dwellers.
Oysters are nothing short of environmental superheroes. Consider this: a single oyster, in its quiet, determined way, can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day. This not only enhances water quality and clarity but also encourages the flourishing of other aquatic life.
For eons, the New York Harbor was host to vast, shimmering oyster reefs that served as bulwarks against storm surges and homes to a panoply of marine life. Sadly, a trio of malefactors - over-harvesting, pollution, and unrelenting urban development - saw these crucial creatures nearly vanish by the early 20th century.
Yet, as the sun set on the oyster population, a beacon of hope emerged in the form of the Billion Oyster Project. Launched in 2014 by the New York Harbor School and the New York Harbor Foundation, this ambitious initiative committed to restoring a staggering one billion live oysters to the harbor over the ensuing two decades.
The project's educational arm also promotes stewardship of our precious waterways among younger generations. Local schools collaborate with the initiative, offering students hands-on, experiential learning opportunities.
As you stand in John Street Park, consider the sublime interplay of urban spaces and natural environments. Each effort, however small, can spark profound transformations, much like the humble oyster's quiet yet profound impact on our harbor.
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