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Lower New York Bay

Coordinates: 40°31′00″N 74°02′59″W / 40.51667°N 74.04972°W / 40.51667; -74.04972
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A 2004 map with Lower New York Bay highlighted in pink
Hudson River estuary waterways: 1. Hudson River, 2. East River, 3. Long Island Sound, 4. Newark Bay, 5. Upper New York Bay, 6. Lower New York Bay, 7. Jamaica Bay, 8. New York Bight (Atlantic Ocean)
View over the Lower New York Bay from Wolfe's Pond Park on Staten Island, New York
View over the Raritan Bay from Sandy Hook, New Jersey

Lower New York Bay is a section of New York Bay south of the Narrows (the strait between Staten Island and Brooklyn). The eastern end of the Bay is marked by two spits of land, Sandy Hook, New Jersey, and Rockaway, Queens. The waterway between the spits connects the Bay to the Atlantic Ocean at the New York Bight. Traversing the floor of the Bay southeasterly from the Narrows to the Bight and beyond is Hudson Canyon.

Roughly the northeastern portion of the Bay from the Narrows to Sandy Hook is known as the Lower Bay (named in relation to the neighboring Upper [New York] Bay); roughly the western portion of the Bay (including the portion at the mouth of New Jersey's Raritan River) is called Raritan Bay; and roughly the southeastern portion of the Bay (that is, the portion south and the portion southwest from Sandy Hook) is known as Sandy Hook Bay.

History and geography


Since before the time of the Lenape, the Native American inhabitants of the area, the Lower Bay has sustained a rich marine ecosystem with multiple fish species and molluscs, especially oyster, clam and mussel beds. In the 20th century, due to increased population and industrial pollution, the water quality of the bay and its ability to support marine life was severely diminished. The water quality of the bay began to improve with the passage of the 1972 Clean Water Act.

The main shipping channel through Lower New York Bay is the Ambrose Channel, 2,000 feet (600 meters) wide and dredged to a depth of 40 feet (12 meters). The channel is navigable by ships with up to a 37-foot draft at low tide.[1] The entrance to the Ambrose Channel was marked for many years by the Lightship Ambrose, which was superseded by the Ambrose Light.

The bay contains popular beaches at Brighton Beach and Coney Island in Brooklyn. There are also beaches on Staten Island. Just outside the bay, facing the Atlantic, are the beaches of Sandy Hook and the Rockaways.



Several lighthouses were built to aid navigation in and around Lower New York Bay, located both on land and in the bay itself. The earliest, at Sandy Hook, was built in colonial times.

In New Jersey:

In New York:

Within Lower New York Bay:



There are two small artificial islands in Lower New York Bay, both located a mile offshore from South Beach, Staten Island.

In the early 20th century, both islands were used as a quarantine station, housing immigrants found to have been carrying contagious diseases when they landed at Ellis Island.[4] At the start of World War II the United States Merchant Marine used both islands as a training station (which opened in 1938);[2] the Quonset huts built during this period still stand on Swinburne Island.

The other major use for the two islands during World War II were as anchorages for antisubmarine nets that fenced off New York Bay from the Atlantic Ocean to keep enemy submarines out. Both islands are now part of Gateway National Recreation Area.[2]

Fort Lafayette was on a small island in the Narrows, just off the Brooklyn shore. That island was removed during construction of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Coney Island, originally separated from the southern shore of Brooklyn by a narrow strait, has since been connected to the main part of Long Island by landfill, and is now a peninsula despite its name.

See also



  1. ^ United States coast pilot: Atlantic coast. From Point Judith to New York, Part 4 By U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, Herbert Cornelius Graves, p. 187. Publisher: University of Michigan Library (January 27, 2010) Language: English ASIN: B0037CEPUY
  2. ^ a b c Kenneth T. Jackson. The Encyclopedia of New York City. The New-York Historical Society; Yale University Press; 1995. p. 149
  3. ^ Poole, M. O. (February 28, 1937). "Historic Islands At New York's Front Door". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-28.
  4. ^ "Quarantine At New York". Harper's Weekly. September 6, 1879. Retrieved 2008-07-28.

40°31′00″N 74°02′59″W / 40.51667°N 74.04972°W / 40.51667; -74.04972