Hoffman Island

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Hoffman Island
New York Bay Islands.jpg
Hoffman Island on left and Swinburne Island on the right as seen from South Beach-Franklin Delano Roosevelt Boardwalk at South Beach, Staten Island
LocationLower New York Bay
Coordinates40°34′44″N 74°03′13″W / 40.578873°N 74.053688°W / 40.578873; -74.053688
Area11 acres (4.5 ha)
United States
State New York
CityNew York City
BoroughStaten Island

Hoffman Island is an 11-acre (4.5 ha) artificial island in the Lower New York Bay, off the South Beach of Staten Island, New York City.[1] A smaller, 4-acre (1.6 ha) artificial island, Swinburne Island, lies immediately to the south.[2] Created in 1873 upon the Orchard Shoal[3] by the addition of landfill, the island is named for former New York City mayor (1866–1868) and New York Governor (1869–1871) John Thompson Hoffman.[4]

Quarantined persons on Hoffman Island between 1910 and 1915

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, Hoffman (and Swinburne) Island was used as a quarantine station, housing immigrants who, upon their arrival at the immigrant inspection station at nearby Ellis Island, presented with symptoms of contagious disease(s).[1]

World War II[edit]

Starting in 1938 and extending through World War II, the United States Merchant Marine used Hoffman and Swinburne Islands as a training station.[4][5] The Quonset huts built during this period are no longer evident on Hoffman Island, but as of 2017 their remnants remain on Swinburne Island. During World War II the islands also served as anchorages for Antisubmarine Nets intended to protect New York Bay and its associated shipping/naval activities from enemy submarines entering from the Atlantic Ocean.[4]

Post–World War II[edit]

Since World War II several proposals for utilizing Hoffman and Swinburne Islands have been presented. In the 1950s, city planner Robert Moses and political consultant Bernard Baruch advocated transforming the islands into a city park, but this plan was not realized.[6] In 1961, all existing buildings on Hoffman Island were razed.[7] In the 1980s, in response to plans of New York City to open new homeless shelters amidst Staten Island's residential neighborhoods, some of the potentially affected residents proposed a never-implemented plan to construct a homeless shelter on Hoffman Island, Swinburne Island or both.[8]

Current use[edit]

Hoffman and Swinburne islands are currently managed by the National Park Service as part of the Staten Island Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area. To protect the islands' avian residents, which include great egret, snowy egret, black-crowned night heron, glossy ibis, double-crested cormorant and great black-backed gull, the island is off limits to the public. Beginning in 2001, harbor seals have been observed wintering on and near the islands.[2]


  1. ^ a b "Quarantine At New York". Harper's Weekly. September 6, 1879. Retrieved 2008-07-28. April 23, 1863, what is now known as the General Quarantine Act was passed, defining the quarantine establishment, authorizing its construction, creating the permanent office of Quarantine Commissioner, defining the duties and powers of the Commissioners and Health Officer, and establishing a general system of quarantine for the port. Additional powers were conferred by amendments made to this general act in 1864, 1865, 1866, and 1867, under which two small steamers were purchased; the property at Tompkinsville, Staten Island, known as the Marine Hospital Grounds, was sold; and the artificial islands in the lower bay were undertaken and afterward completed – Swinburne Island in 1860, and Hoffman Island in 1873.
  2. ^ a b Newman, Andy (March 25, 2006). "Swimmers From the North Delight Scientists and Sightseers". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-08-21. The inhabitants of Hoffman and Swinburne Islands, man-made piles in Lower New York Bay off Staten Island, have tended to be there not because they particularly want to be, but because they have to. In the 19th century, the islands were a holding area for new immigrants feared to be carrying diseases. Later, they housed soldiers with venereal disease, quarantined parrots and, until the 1940s, merchant marines in training.
  3. ^ "Chart of Orchard Shoal, Lower Bay, New York". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2018-11-09.
  4. ^ a b c Jackson, Kenneth T., ed. (1995). The Encyclopedia of New York City. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 149. ISBN 0300055366.
  5. ^ "The Ship That Never Sails." Popular Mechanics, February 1942, pp.66-69/164.
  6. ^ "An Island Just For U". Forgotten New York. Retrieved 2017-04-11.
  7. ^ Abandoned Man Made Islands in New York City Untapped Cities
  8. ^ Hailey, Charlie (2013). "Robert Moses' Walden". Spoil Island: Reading The Makeshift Archipelago. Lanham, Maryland, USA: Lexington Books. p. 48. ISBN 978-0739173060.

Further reading[edit]

  • Seitz, Sharon & Miller, Stuart. (2003) The Other Islands of New York. ISBN 0-88150-502-1.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°34′44″N 74°03′13″W / 40.578873°N 74.053688°W / 40.578873; -74.053688