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A brief History of Marine Park - The Park


Marine Park is one of New York City's largest recreation and nature preserve areas. Located in southern Brooklyn, the park currently covers 798 acres. This number includes both, the land and water boundaries of the park. Marine Park surrounds the westernmost inlet of Jamaica Bay. The bay is one of several formed during the last 5000 years as ocean currents deposited sand in a series of long strips off the south shore of Long Island. These strips of beach form a barrier against the surf and allow salt marshes to grow in the calm water on their protected bay side.

Gerritsen Creek - Click to for more pictures

Gerritsen Creek takes its name from Dutch colonist Wolfert Gerritsen, who built a gristmill on the creek in the latter half of the 17th century. The mill was in continuous operation until 1889, and it was destroyed by fire in 1935. Gerritsen Creek was a freshwater stream that once extended about twice as far inland as it does today. The Creek extended as far north as present-day Quentin Road. Around 1920, the creek north of Avenue U was converted into an underground storm drain. This section of creek was later land-filled to build houses and the park itself.

At the turn of the 20th century developers began making plans to turn Jamaica Bay into a port, dredging Rockaway channel to allow large ships to enter the proposed harbor. Land speculators anticipated a real estate boom and bought land along the Jamaica Bay waterfront. Fearing that the marshland around Gerritsen Creek would be destroyed, Frederick B. Pratt and Alfred T. White offered the city 150 acres in the area for use as a park in 1917. After a seven-year delay, the City finally accepted the offer. The idea of a new park inspired developers to erect new homes in the area. In the 1930s, new land purchases increased the park's area to 1822 acres by 1937. That year the park was named "Brooklyn Marine Park." However a series of additional land transfers has reduced the size of the park. The largest transfer of land was in 1974, when 1024 acres was given to the National Park Service. The transferred land is now part of the Gateway National Recreation Area -- leaving Marine Park at its current size of 798 acres.

Gerritsen Creek - Click to for more pictures

Over the past sixty years, portions of Marine Park have been improved with recreational facilities, while other areas have been preserved to protect plant and wildlife. In 1939, the Pratt-White athletic field was dedicated in tribute to the two fathers of Marine Park. A 210-acre golf course opened in 1963 -- The Marine Park Golf Course, on Flatbush Ave. New ballfields (south of Avenue U) were opened in 1979 and named for baseball lover and police officer Rocco Torre in 1997. Nature trails established along Gerritsen Creek in 1984-85 invite parkgoers to observe the wealth of plant and wildlife in southern Brooklyn. Ongoing improvements at the end of the 20th century included the reconstruction of basketball, tennis, boccie courts, baseball fields and the Lenape Playground just south of Avenue U. A new Nature Center opened in 2000. Plans are underway to reconstruct Wolfert Gerritsen's gristmill and convert it into a museum in association with the Nature Center on Avenue U and the Lott House at 1940 East 36 Street.


Nature Center - Click to for more pictures


Some information provided by: The New York City Parks and Recreation

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