I first found it in the late 1970s, on one of my many bicycling trips from Bay Ridge way out east, to New Lots, Ozone Park or even further, depending on how much time was available. The longest round trip I ever made was Bay Ridge to Valley Stream and back. Modest by the standards of other bicyclists I have known, but I prided myself on making that round trip in five hours. This was when I was 18 to 23 years old, though.
Old Mill Road from Crescent Street
One of my favorite routes was down Cozine Avenue, to escape the mean streets of East New York further north; this was the blackout–Son of Sam era. Attaining Fountain Avenue, I noticed a dirt road just south of Cozine running east to Crescent Street. It was completely unpaved and there must have been a black and white street sign indicating “Old Mill Road” then. The city doesn’t deign to mark it these days, though there is a single streetlamp. There appear to be 2 or 3 ancient homes fronting the road, which explains its survival.
I hadn’t the time to board the Q8 or B13 buses, both of which run past the old road on their way to the Gateway Center Mall (where I have never been, having moved out of Brooklyn in 1993). Do I use Google Street View? You bet I do, and I enjoy it.
All NYC boroughs have a Mill Street, Lane, Road of some kind, and all of them are near the water and mark the locations of former mills. Crescent Street used to run down to Jamaica Bay and was the location of Van Wicklen’s Mill:
Located at the foot of Crescent St. by Jamaica Bay, the Old Mill was not known to my generation. From Good Old East New York:”The Old Mill was established on the Bull Creek, about 1770 by one Van Brunt, at the same time as the Red Mill, just across the Flatlands town line, was built. Until 1810 the Bull Creek Mill stood at the second floodgate about a half mile south of the present site. In that year the mill was taken down and the present structure was built from the timbers of the original mill, at the foot of Crescent St. The mill was owned by L. Van Wicklen and known to many as Van Wicklen’s Mill.” The East New York Project
The photo, also from the site, pictures the mill in 1900. It was finally demolished in 1934, after having stood since 1810, or 124 years.
Sometimes, dirt roads unknown by most are the keys to the historic past.