An alternative side of Brooklyn: Gravesend’s Accidental Park
It seems like every square inch of New York City has been categorized, labeled, and put in more or less probable tourist guides. But if you know where to look on the fringes of the city, you can still find places without names e without tourists.
There are hidden gems throughout New York City, and this is no exception: on the waterfront of Gravesend, Brooklyn, is an all but untraveled wedge of vacant land, nestled between aging marinas and the northern border of Calvert Vaux Park on Bay 44th St.
A small path leads the curious adventurer down a slope, through tall brush that reveals the hidden beach. You’d assume fine sand would cover the landscape until the water, but this is not the case.This site features large, slippery rocks, red bricks, big chunks of asphalt from unknown streets, and trash, as if it were Brooklyn’s personal junkyard.
There’s no mention of it on the department’s website and, in its place, the all-knowing Google maps shows only a dull gray transected by the mysterious Westshore Avenue, even though no such road exists.
The small peninsula was born out of the construction of the Verrazano Bridge in the 1960s when excavated material from the project was deposited on the shore of Gravesend Bay. Most of the new land was incorporated into the existing Drier-Offerman Park, but for some, unknown, reason, this small piece of land was left out of the plan. Through the 1970s, it served as an illegal junkyard, but by 1982, developers came forward with a plan to construct a seaside residential development at the area. However, the project never developed and the city of New York suggests environmental remediation as a condition for future development.
On the north shore of the peninsula, decaying pilings show the outline of a former pier and odd construction debris lie scattered throughout the landscape. Beer cans and fire pits are everywhere, and by daytime, fishermen flock to this desolate place to cast their lines into the muddy gray waters of Gravesend Bay.
In addition, there is a derelict boat wades gently in the bay, retired from its former life as a mode of transportation. The rusted, overturned vessel floats among rubbish while trees hang overhead and graffiti lay still as a backdrop.
Perhaps it won’t be long before the development potential of the site is realized, but for the time being, the decaying wilds of this anonymous park offer a curious alternative to the paved walkways and manicured lawns of New York’s city parks.
Images from web.