back to: JBI Home
Resources > North
The North Shore District includes
all the Gateway properties along the north shore of Jamaica Bay
in Brooklyn. This District contains over 2,000 acres of open space
and facilities at the former naval air base on Floyd Bennett Field,
the historic pier and picnic areas of Canarsie Pier, as well as
the nearby shore lands of Dead Horse Bay, Plumb Beach, and Bergen
Floyd Bennett Field
was dedicated in 1931 as New York City’s first municipal
airport. During the pioneering days of aviation, famous aviators
including Howard Hughes, Jacqueline Cochran and ‘Wrong Way’
Corrigan, all used the field for their record-breaking flights.
Converted to a naval air station in 1941, Floyd Bennett Field
was an important military airfield during World War II.
|Within the airfield's
cultural landscape, 140 acres of grassland are maintained as open
fields to provide important nesting and feeding habitat for grasshopper
sparrows, meadowlarks, American kestrels and northern harriers.
In 1985, park staff and volunteers from the Audubon Society planted
native grasses and removed trees and shrubs to further restore native
grassland habitat in the center of the Field.
the northern most corner of Floyd Bennett Field, the North 40,
ponds and trails were built with money taxpayers designated to
“Return-a-Gift-to-Wildlife.” Birders, hikers, and
wildlife all enjoy the habitats of the North 40 where you’d
never know you were still in one of the largest cities in the
world. Today on Floyd Bennett Field there are many remnants of
the military era for visitors to explore, along with recreational
opportunities and environmental education activities for area
school children and adults.
Pier is located in Jamaica Bay along Brooklyn’s Belt Parkway.
As far back as the seventeen hundreds there is evidence of the
area being used by fisherman. In the 1900’s Canarsie Pier
was a pleasure spot due to its recreational swimming, charter
fishing, rowboat rentals, yacht club, summer bungalows, and floating
bathhouse/dance pavilion and it was the focal point of the Jamaica
Bay commercial fishing industry. Development of Canarsie Pier
as it exists today was completed in 1926 and in 1973 it was incorporated
into Gateway National Recreation Area. Today, this historic pier
is a very popular spot for fisherman and picnickers. The area
surrounding the pier contains a large grassy picnic area and children’s
playground. The protected shoreline surrounding the pier supports
valuable salt marsh habitat.
Dead Horse Bay
as the name may sound, Dead Horse Bay is an area rich in cultural
and natural history. During the seventeenth century Dutch settlers
built mills to utilize the power derived from the changing tides
to grind wheat into flour. A remaining millstone can still be
found along the Millstone trail. From the nineteenth century to
the twentieth century the area has been used in a variety of ways,
including manufacturing fertilizer from the remains of dead animals,
producing fish oil from the menhaden caught in the bay, and most
recently a landfill for the disposal of New York City’s
garbage. In 1926, the salt marshes surrounding Dead Horse Bay
and the rest of Barren Island were filled and connected to the
land mass of Brooklyn. Today school groups are taken to Dead Horse
Bay on a regular basis to walk the Millstone trail, seine for
a variety of fishes, and learn about the natural and cultural
history of the area.
West of Dead Horse Bay, Plumb Beach, formerly Plum Island until
1940 when Robert Moses filled in the island connecting it to Brooklyn.
Squatters were evicted and the beach was closed in order to build
the Belt Parkway. Today Gateway National Recreation Area manages
the beach area but the parking lot is still owned by New York City.
Plumb Beach offers vital habitat to threatened shorebirds, horseshoe
crabs and a myriad of other wildlife in its variety of habitats
including: tidal mud flats, low salt marsh areas, a tidal lagoon,
a fragile dune system and several scattered woodland thickets. Recreation
opportunities at Plumb Beach include: fishing, parasailing, and
The Bergen Beach property managed by Gateway NRA extends east from
Floyd Bennett Field to Canarsie Pier. In 1905, the Percy Williams
Amusement Park was opened and thirty-thousand visitors came to Bergen
Island to enjoy a variety of attractions including a Ferris wheel,
casino, and roller skating rink. Over the next decade, the masses
came by trolley and ferry to play at what was called Bergen Beach.
But in 1920 the pollution in Jamaica Bay and the popularity of Coney
Island put an end to the amusement park. Today much of the area
is the residential community of Bergen Beach surrounded by low salt
marsh protected by the National Park Service. Included on this property
is the Jamaica Bay Riding Academy, a concession that provides the
public the opportunity to ride horses on trails and along the beachfront.