The Living Dock 2020-03-07T09:55:14+00:00

Project Description

The Living Dock

Project Lead: Newtown Creek Alliance
Project Partners: Sarah Durand, Professor, LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York; North Brooklyn Community Boathouse (formerly North Brooklyn Boat Club); TMRnyc; Allocco Recycling; New York Harbor School; and Build It Green!NYC
Project Location: Newtown Creek
GCEF Grant: $23,311
Matching Contribution: $4,300
Project Completed: November 2015

In 2014, through a competitive process, the Newtown Creek Alliance received a GCEF grant of $23,311 (and provided $4,300 in matching funds) to design and build a biological “living dock” as a prototype for combining remediation strategies, education, and public access to Newtown Creek’s aquatic environment. In Spring 2015, a 185-square foot floating dock with space for 18 different plant and habitat units was designed, built, and launched on the eastern shore of the “No Name Inlet” of Newtown Creek near North Henry Street. Three different waste stream products, which included reclaimed cedar (used for decking and structural support), 30-gallon food barrels (used for flotation), and plastic milk crates (used as uniform habitat units) were incorporated into the construction of the dock, as were materials purchased from over ten local businesses. The dock hosts unique habitats made from various substrates, including oyster shells, clam shells, clean sediment, synthetic and natural rope, and stone.

After the dock was towed into place, regular surveys were conducted by Newtown Creek Alliance and its partners, documenting animals such as mummichog (a minnow-like fish), American eel, silversides, grass shrimp, sand shrimp, blue crab, mud crab, barnacle, slipper snail, mud snail, ribbed mussel, blue mussel, hard clam, and various species of tunicate, amphipod, anemone, and marine worm. During the project, the dock also functioned as a floating wetland, with successful survival and growth of native salt marsh grasses in many of the dock’s units. Aside from aesthetic function, these grasses help pull excessive nutrients from the water and provide additional habitat for small marine wildlife.

Newtown Creek Alliance conducted tours of the dock with the North Brooklyn Community Boathousethroughout the project, and in October 2015 hosted a celebration event at the dock for Greenpoint residents to visit and see the plant and animals within the structure. Since the project’s completion, the dock continues to be ecologically-beneficial, as both home to numerous marine organisms as well as salt marsh grasses. The dock also continues to serve as an educational tool, frequented on canoe trips by the North Brooklyn Community Boathouse, and Newtown Creek Alliance has held multiple events allowing people to visit the dock from land. Newtown Creek Alliance continues to keep a close eye on the dock and perform routine maintenance. In addition, Newtown Creek Alliance secured additional funding from a separate grant from Lush Charity Pot to construct another living dock in Newtown Creek and this work has inspired other living docks throughout other New York City waterways, including Bushwick Inlet and Fresh Kills in Staten Island.

More information about the Living Dock project can be found both on the Newtown Creek Alliance website at: and on the Living Dock website at:

  • Created and launched a 185-square foot floating dock as a prototype for studying remediation strategies, while providing critical habitat and unique public access to Newtown Creek’s aquatic environment
  • Surveyed a diverse array of indigenous plants and animals that help improve water quality in Newtown Creek
  • Created an educational tool about Newtown Creek, serving as a frequent destination for canoe trips conducted by the North Brooklyn Community Boathouse and for land viewing events hosted by the Newtown Creek Alliance