Great Kills Park

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Great Kills Park
Beach Great Kills Park.JPG
Type Urban park
Location Staten Island in New York City, New York, United States
Coordinates 40°32′40″N 74°7′30″W / 40.54444°N 74.12500°W / 40.54444; -74.12500Coordinates: 40°32′40″N 74°7′30″W / 40.54444°N 74.12500°W / 40.54444; -74.12500
Area 580 acres (230 ha)
Created 1949
Operated by National Park Service
Status Open all year, part of park closed

Great Kills Park in Great Kills, Staten Island, is a part of the Staten Island unit of Gateway National Recreation Area. Part of the National Park System, it covers an area of approximately 580 acres (2.3 km2) of salt marsh, beach and woodlands, stretching along two miles (3 km) of Staten Island's south shore.[1]


The park's main entrance is at Hylan Boulevard and Buffalo Street. On Hylan Boulevard, many MTA buses operate. The Staten Island Railway station Bay Terrace is near the main entrance. With a boat or jet ski, the park can be reached via Great Kills Harbor.


Beach at Great Kills Park, 1973. Photo by Arthur Tress.

In 1860, the businessman and pioneering naturalist John J. Crooke bought a part of the land and lived in a wooden house at the beach. In 1916, severe erosion cut the narrow spit of land and Crooke's Point became an island to itself. In 1929, New York City bought Crooke's Point and adjacent land and started to build a public park. Due to the Great Depression and World War II, the work was delayed and the park could not be opened to the public until 1949. It became part of the Gateway National Recreation Area in 1973, along with Miller Field and Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island, Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn and Queens, and Sandy Hook in New Jersey.[2]

Great Kills Harbor, located within the park, is a man-made harbor that was created in the 1940s by expanding and reconnecting Crooke's Island to the rest of Staten Island, using landfill and dredge material.[3] Numerous species of birds frequent the diverse habitats of the park.[4]

Radium contamination[edit]

NPS map of the Park, displaying the closed area in white
Great Kills Harbor view

Much of the park area was built on 1940s-era landfill, including 15 million cubic yards of fill and waste consisting of sanitary and medical waste [5], and in 2005 radioactive radium (226Ra) once used in cancer treatments was found in the sand at a depth of about 1–1.5 feet (30–40 cm). Directly at the sources, investigators measured gamma radiation about 200 times higher than the natural background level.[6] Nearly half the park has been closed to the public since 2009, and the National Park Service expects to complete a comprehensive study in 2020 for its long-term decontamination project.[7]


  1. ^ Great Kills Park, National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  2. ^ Things To Do – Staten Island, National Park Service. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  3. ^ The New York City Audubon Society guide to finding birds in the metropolitan area By Marcia T. Fowle, Paul Kerlinger, New York City Audubon Society p. 102
  4. ^ Where to find birds in New York State: the top 500 sites By Susan Roney Drennan p. 404
  5. ^ Sanders,Anna. Great Kills Park radiation probe update: In case you missed it. Staten Island Advance April 4, 2016 [1] Accessed August 7, 2017.
  6. ^ Community Fact Sheet – Great Kills Park Site, National Park Service. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  7. ^ Great Kills Park Environmental Cleanup Project, National Park Service. Retrieved May 3, 2017.

External links[edit]