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Gateway National Recreation Area is a 26,607 acre (107.67 kmĀ²) National Recreation Area in the New York City metropolitan areamarker. Scattered over Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, New York and Monmouth County, New Jersey, it provides recreational opportunities that are rare for a dense urban environment, including ocean swimming, bird watching, boating, hiking and camping. Ten million people visit Gateway annually.

Gateway was created by the US Congress in 1972 to preserve and protect scarce and/or unique natural, cultural, and recreational resources with relatively convenient access by a high percentage of the nation's population. It is owned by the United Statesmarker government and managed by the National Park Service.

The park comprises eleven park sites in three separate units:

  • Jamaica Bay Unit in Brooklyn and Queens includes much of the shoreline and water below the Shore Parkway beginning at Plum Beachmarker and ending at Kennedy International Airportmarker, along with several dozen islands in Jamaica Baymarker, a tidal estuary. It also includes most of the western part of the Rockaway peninsula which separates Jamaica Bay from the Atlantic Oceanmarker. Among the sites in this unit are:
    Jamaica Bay Coastal Landscapes at Gateway
    • Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refugemarker is a prime location for viewing birds and bird migrations, diamondback turtle egg-laying and horseshoe crab mating and egg laying. Its 9,155 acres include salt marsh, dunes, brackish ponds, woodland, fields and the open bay. It is the only "wildlife refuge" in the National Park System. Originally created and managed by New York City as a "wildlife refuge", the term was retained by Gateway when the site was transferred. Usually, federal "wildlife refuges" are a US Fish & Wildlife Service function.
    • Floyd Bennett Fieldmarker, a historic airfield with a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places, also hosts the Historic Aircraft Restoration Project (H.A.R.P.) in Hangar B where volunteers are working to preserve the park's collection of historic aircraft. Hangar B is open to the public at selected times during the week. Exhibits and programs on the airfield's history are available in the former control tower and terminal, since converted into the Ryan Visitor Center, named for William Fitts Ryan, (the congressman who championed Gateway's creation). The grasslands of Floyd Bennett Field are a good place for viewing falcons and kestrels.Floyd Bennett Field also includes a concession housing recreational facilities including a sports arena and ice skating rink in adaptively re-used hangers. Within this unit, but still nearby, are Dead Horse Bay, which includes a marina concession, and a golf driving range concession adjacent. Bergen Beach on the north shore of Jamaica Bay (not to be confused with the bordering neighborhood of the same name) is also nearby and within the unit's boundary, supporting a riding academy concession (horses).
    • Canarsiemarker Pier is a popular recreation pier and fishing spot on the north shore of the bay.
    • Fort Tildenmarker, between Jacob Riis Park and Breezy Point on the Rockaway peninsula, has some of the city's most pristine and secluded ocean beaches, a successional maritime forest, a dune system, and a freshwater pond. Between 1917 and 1974, Fort Tilden served as part of the harbor's system of defenses, and once housed Nike antiaircraft missiles. Today an observatory deck on one of the old batteries offers spectacular views of Jamaica Bay, New York Harbor and the Manhattan skyline. Fort Tilden is one of the best places on New York Harbor to observe hawks during the fall migration.
    • Breezy Point Tipmarker occupies the westernmost part of the Rockaway peninsula, forming one side of the outer "gateway" to New York Harbor. Its 200 acres contain oceanfront beach, bay shoreline, dunes, marshes and coastal grasslands. Breezy Point Tip is a nesting ara for the threatened piping plover.
    • Jacob Riis Parkmarker is an ocean beach with a boardwalk and historic bathhouse with art deco elements. It was built by powerful New York planner and administrator Robert Moses, and was named after journalist, photographer and reformer Jacob Riis.

  • Staten Island Unit is located on the southeastern shore of Staten Islandmarker within Lower New York Bay. It includes Hoffmanmarker and Swinburne Islandsmarker, both off-limits to visitation and managed primarily for the benefit of avian species. The unit also includes the following three sites:
    • Fort Wadsworthmarker is a historic collection of masonry fortifications on the site of much earlier fortifications at The Narrowsmarker under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridgemarker.
    • Miller Fieldmarker is a historic former airfield south of New Dorp with picnic areas, open areas and sports fields.
    • Great Kills Park on Great Killsmarker Harbor includes a marina where visitors can go boating, an beach open to the lower harbor with lifeguards during the summer, and nature trails. It also serves as a nesting site for osprey.

  • Sandy Hook Unit is in Monmouth County in northern New Jersey. The barrier peninsula includes two park sites:
    • Fort Hancockmarker served as part of the harbor's coastal defense system from 1895 until 1974 and contains 100 historic buildings and fortifications.
    • Sandy Hookmarker contains seven beaches, including Gunnison Beachmarker, a "nude beach" by custom, as well as salt marshes and a maritime holly forest. Ferries from Manhattanmarker are available in season. Fishing and using hand-launched vessels are popular here.

Law enforcement in Gateway is the responsibility of the United States Park Police in the New York units, and commissioned park rangers in the New Jersey unit.

See also


  1. Gateway National Recreation Area (National Park Service)
  2. Gateway National Recreation Area (National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy)
  3. Congress of the United States. Public Law 92-592. October 27, 1972.
  4. Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs. Establishment of Gateway National Recreation Area in the States of New York and New Jersey. United States Senate, 92nd Congress, 1st Session. Report Number 92-345 to accompany S. 1852 Ordered to be printed August 3, 1971
  5. Gateway History & Culture (NPS)
  6. Floyd Bennett Field (National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy)
  7. Historic Fort Tilden
  8. Hawking on the Harbor (National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy)
  9. Breezy Point (Brooklyn Bird Club)
  10. Fort Hancock (National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy)

Image:JamaicaBayLandscapes.jpg|Typical landscapes along Jamaica BayImage:GNRAflora.JPG|Typical flora of Jamaica Bay shoresImage:GNRAgrass.JPG|Typical flora of the coastal edge at GatewayImage:Jacob Riis Park.jpg|The beach at Jacob Riis Park

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