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The Breezy Point District includes
all the Gateway properties found in Queens, except for the Jamaica
Bay Wildlife Refuge. Approximately 1,059 acres and 4.5 miles of
ocean beach are contained within this portion of Gateway NRA.
Most of the district’s sites: Jacob Riis Park, Fort Tilden,
West Beach, and the Breezy Point Tip, are south of Jamaica Bay
on the western end of the Rockaway peninsula. Located north of
Jamaica Bay in Howard Beach are the two recent additions to the
district, Frank Charles Park and Hamilton Beach. Both of which
are managed for traditional recreational uses.
Jacob Riis Park is
located in the eastern part of the District, south of the Marine
Parkway Bridge. New York City acquired the property in 1912, intending
to establish a public waterfront park. But in 1918 the US Navy
leased the property and constructed the Rockaway Naval Air Station.
When Robert Moses became New York City Parks Commissioner in the
early 1930’s he wanted to bring the “Jones Beach”
type experience to the New York City area. Jacob Riis Park, named
in honor of the NYC journalist and public reformer. was that creation.
Riis Park features a mile of ocean beach and is a very popular
spot for swimming and sunbathing. Recreational facilities along
the boardwalk surrounding the historic Bathhouse include: basketball
courts, golf, paddle tennis, and children’s playgrounds.
the War of 1812, the United States Army has intermittently used
the area of Fort Tilden for the defense of New York Harbor. In
1917, it was officially named in honor of former New York governor,
Samuel J. Tilden. By 1967 Fort Tilden’s weaponry became
obsolete and was ultimately transferred to the National Park Service.
Today, Fort Tilden is comprised of a mosaic of reclaimed natural
areas and assorted military structures. A narrow, one-mile long
beach stretches along the Fort complex, connected to an established
dunal system. The Back Fort, located on the west side of the complex,
includes a successional maritime forest, a freshwater pond, and
an observatory deck on top of Battery Harris East, a historic
military battery, which is an excellent spot for viewing raptors
during their fall migration. All sites are accessible along established
Beach was the location of a half-finished complex of high-rise
buildings that stood abandoned in 1972 when the property was transferred
to Gateway. Stanley B. Tankel, a leader in regional planning in
the New York area, led the movement to halt construction of the
high-rise complex on Breezy Point and return the land to designated
park use. The National Park Service demolished the buildings in
the early 1980’s and West Beach is now habitat for a variety
of shorebirds and is also frequented by fisherman. Behind the
primary dune system, which extends the length of the beach, some
small grasslands remain and are utilized by nesting killdeer and
Breezy Point Tip is the westernmost point of the Rockaway Peninsula.
One of the most undisturbed natural areas of the Park, the “Tip”
contains over 200 acres of sand dunes, salt and brackish marshes,
and grasslands. Throughout the summer the protected ocean beach
of the Breezy Point Tip is the nesting habitat for the threatened
piping plover, roseate tern, least tern, common tern, black skimmer,
and American oystercatcher. In addition, the beach is used as
a stop-over for migrating shorebirds in the spring and fall. Fisherman
from all over the tri-state area come to the Breezy Point Tip
to fish off the jetty for striped bass, blue fish and summer flounder.