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Historian Mitch Waxman's Latest Newtown Creek Tour Launches From Bushwick

By Meredith Hoffman | August 2, 2012 10:40am | Updated on August 2, 2012 10:59am

BUSHWICK — Mitch Waxman invites you to begin your Sunday morning on a Bushwick street corner, to end it at a Queens diner — and in between, to leap to the colonial era and through decades of ruins, in his latest Newtown Creek walking tour.

The acclaimed creek historian, who has been leading walking tours the past year around the long-polluted waterway, has dreamed up a fresh route that wanders past remains of a 19th-century Brooklyn-Queens highway, skirts the creek's edges and passes two "movable bridges," he said. This is the second time he is taking the path with a group, he added.

"This is a forgotten corner of the city and it's the ancient border between Newtown and WIlliamsburg and Bushwick and that's something I try to bring forward," said Waxman, 45, whose expertise on the water has won him recent media coverage and who plans to wear his signature Newtown Creek Alliance hat to represent the non-profit advocacy group his tours benefit. 

"There's a colonial era highway that still exists and you can stand a couple fet away from the waters of the creek. Most access to the creek is private and behind gates," said Waxman of one of his new tour's highlights around the creek. "It was a toll highway that was established in the 1830s and last crossed the creek in 1875 and somehow the tiles are still there."

Waxman, a Brooklyn native, began discovering the nooks and crannies of Newtown Creek a few years ago after health issues led his doctor to recommended he start running for exercise.

"In the part of Brooklyn I grew up in you only run if something is chasing you, and so I started walking," he said, and explorers Sunday can follow his footsteps to learn of the days when Williamsburg was a swamp on the Bushwick shore — and then they can chow down on cheeseburgers or spaghetti.

"During the summer I like to end where there are cold drinks and air conditioning," he said of the final stop at Clinton Diner in Maspeth, Queens. "I hate when walking tours end and everybody's just like 'goodbye.'"

Waxman's tour starts at Grand Street and Morgan Avenue at 11 a.m. Sunday, and tickets can be bought online.