History & Culture

A big park with a diverse history

Gateway National Recreation Area overlaps two states and includes areas in three New York City boroughs: Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. The history of the park's three units---Jamaica Bay, Sandy Hook and Staten Island---has been shaped by their access to New York Harbor. They also share the story of defending America's largest port from real and potential enemies.

Jamaica Bay Unit includes places such as Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York City's first municipal airport, where aviators such as "Wrong Way" Corrigan took flight. Military facilities at Fort Tilden and Floyd Bennett Field tell the stories of the defense of New York Harbor and the nation. Landfill, plus the insight of determined people in city government, transformed a former city garbage dump into the only Wildlife Refuge in the National Park Service.

Sandy Hook Unit lies within the Fort Hancock and Sandy Hook Proving Ground National Historic Landmark. It is home to several batteries and historic Army buildings, the oldest surviving lighthouse in the U.S., a former United States Life-Saving Service station building which bears witness to the maritime history of this peninsula. Since 1895, Fort Hancock was one of the places vital to American defense up to the nuclear age. You can read dozens of stories by the people who served here.

Staten Island Unit also includes places such as a former airfield, former Army fortifications and a public park created from landfill. At Fort Wadsworth, Battery Weed is one of the places where stone forts protected New York Harbor.





Last updated: September 4, 2020

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