Sunday, May 11, 2008

Catching Fish in Manhattan's Basements

The other day I dropped by BLDGBLOG and discovered one of the most remarkable posts I've ever come across. Seriously--nothing's gotten me this excited in months. The subject was basement fishing. In New York.

According to the post, in 1971, a gentleman named Jack Gasnick wrote a short piece for the New York Times in which he described a most unusual discovery. He claimed that, in the basement of his old hardware store on Second Avenue and 53rd street, he had uncovered a large stream that was stocked with fish.

He said he made the discovery around 1956, shortly after a storm flooded the building's cellar. When the water finally drained away, he was surprised to find two or three fish left behind. He decided to investigate, only to discover an old iron grate beneath the dirt on the basement floor. He and his brother managed to lift the grate, and here's what they saw . . .

"We had a lantern to pierce the cellar darkness and fifteen feet below I clearly saw the stream bubbling and pushing about, five feet wide and upon its either side, dark green mossed rocks. This lively riverlet was revealed to us exactly as it must have appeared to a Manhattan Indian many years ago.

With plum-bob and line, I cast in and found the stream to be over six feet deep. The spray splashed upwards from time to time and standing on the basement floor, I felt its tingling coolness.

One day I was curious enough to try my hand at fishing. I had an old-fashioned dropline and baited a hook with a piece of sperm-candle. I jiggled the hook for about five minutes and then felt a teasing nibble. Deep in the basement of an ancient tenement on Second Avenue in the heart of midtown New York City, I was fishing."

OMG, OMG, OMG. That is the coolest story I've ever heard. Because as crazy as it sounds, any long-time reader of this blog knows that there are lots of underground rivers and streams throughout the city. (Need a refresher? Click here.) There's even a map (below) that shows all of them.

Of course some experts claim that fish couldn't survive underground for that long. But several visitors to BLDGBLOG noted that blind carp are known to live in the ancient, underground cisterns that lie deep beneath Istanbul, Turkey. People who live above the cisterns often catch the fish through holes in their basement floors.

So it IS possible. Can you imagine? You invite a friend over for dinner. When she asks what you'll be eating you just hand her a fishing pole and lead her down to the basement . . .

Read more here, here, and here.


Blogger B-ball-erina said...

That is really cool! I read a book once when the characters escaped through an underground river. Anaka: check this out
It's really weird!

9:57 AM  
Blogger Jin Ai said...

EEEE awesome!
Unfortunately, we don't have a proper basement (who does in NY??), but that's still really cool.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Wierdos 'r' us said...

That's so unfair!!!

NY already has a underground city, but now it also just has to have uderground streams. i like fish in cocunut sauce!

sorry, that sounded strage!!!

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Kurosignal said...

"...When she asks what you'll be eating you just hand her a fishing pole and lead her down to the basement . . ."

lol... that's awesomely funny!

5:29 PM  
Anonymous ss chick said...

that's amazing! unfortunately i'm not very good at fishing, but that's really cool. And of course the experts are wrong! only expert weirdos (me), spies/girl scouts (is girlscouts one word or two?), and other things that boring people would call 'abnormal' are right. but alas, whats a girl to do?

and weirdos 'r' us, of course that sounded strange, but only to normal people.


6:51 PM  
Anonymous sekrit7 said...

I was bored, so I looked up mankey man terroizes india on google (from Kiki Strike, when Ananka is looking for a story about the sink hole) I thought you were only joking, but it's real! For anyone interested, here are some things!


7:21 PM  
Blogger Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City said...

Sekrit7: Everything I write about is real! (At least the craziest stuff.) ;)

7:29 PM  
Anonymous shelby (who was bookworm) said...

oh! i think ive read that..

8:25 PM  
Blogger Kitty said...

XD Reminds me of someone I know. They own fish their bathtub.

11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mmmm, fishing in the ocean is for schmucks. you want to fish the cool way? fish in your basement. cool story.


4:29 AM  
Blogger Random Irregular said...

I agree with ss chick, Normal is Boring.
NYC is sooooo cool. I so wish I lived there. There are so many interesting and fascinating things to do there.
Tomorrow is a nation wide testing thing for us. Oh no. It'll go on for 3 days!

5:12 AM  
Anonymous Patsee said...

Making your friends catch their own dinners? That /would/ be cool...

...if I approved of eating fish xD.

It must be fun to discover something like that in your basement. Unfortunately the floor of my basement is all concrete...

8:06 PM  

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