The Living Dock 2021-07-18T09:11:27+00:00

Project Description

The Living Dock

Project Lead: Newtown Creek Alliance
Project Partners: Sarah Durand, Associate Professor at LaGuardia Community College; 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
2014 GCEF Grant: $23,311
2014 Matching Contribution: $4,300
2014 Project Completed: November 2015

In 2014, through a competitive process, Newtown Creek Alliance (NCA) 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 different units of plant and animal habitat was designed, built, and launched on the eastern shore of No Name Inlet near North Henry Street. Different recovered items, including reclaimed cedar (used for decking and structural support), 30-gallon food barrels (used for flotation), and plastic milk crates (used as habitat units), were incorporated into the construction of the dock, as were materials purchased from local businesses. The living dock hosted unique habitats made from various substrates, including oyster shells, clam shells, clean sediment, synthetic and natural rope, and stone.

After the newly created dock was put into place, regular surveys of the habitats were conducted by NCA and its partners, documenting the presence of various aquatic species, such as mummichog (a minnow-like fish), American eel, silverside, grass shrimp, sand shrimp, blue crab, mud crab, barnacle, slipper snail, mud snail, ribbed mussel, blue mussel, hard clam, tunicate, amphipod, anemone, and marine worm. The dock also functioned as a floating wetland with native salt marsh grasses successfully growing in many of the dock’s units. In addition to providing an aesthetic function, these wetlands also provide a remediation function by pulling excessive nutrients from the water and adding habitat for the return of marine wildlife.

NCA conducted tours of the dock with the North Brooklyn Community Boathouse (NBCB) throughout the project and, in October 2015, hosted a celebration event at the dock for Greenpoint residents to visit the plants and animals within the structure.

Since the project’s completion, and with NCA’s ongoing monitoring and maintenance, the living dock continues to be ecologically-beneficial, as a home to numerous marine organisms and native salt marsh grasses. Additionally, the dock endures as an educational tool, frequently visited during canoe trips by NBCB. NCA also has held multiple events allowing people to visit the dock from land.

Due to the success of the first living dock, NCA was able to secure outside funding to construct a second living dock in Newtown Creek. The project has also inspired other living docks in other NYC waterways, including Bushwick Inlet in North Brooklyn and Fresh Kills in Staten Island.

For more information, visit Newtown Creek Alliance’s Living Dock pages: and

  • Constructed 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 and land viewing events