//
explore
Nautical, Overgrown, Wild Places

Brooklyn Wild: Gravesend’s Accidental Park

Will Ellis_AbandonedNYC_Brooklyn, Secret Park01

An abandoned boat wades in a narrow cove between Calvert Vaux Park and the vacant lot.

It seems like every square inch of New York City has been categorized, labeled, and filled beyond capacity.  But if you know where to look on the fringes of the city, you can still find places without names.

On the waterfront of Gravesend, Brooklyn, such a place still stands. It’s an all but untraveled wedge of vacant land, nestled between aging marinas and the northern border of Calvert Vaux Park on Bay 44th St. It’s a place I can only call “the secret park,” but there’s no mention of it on the department’s website. In its place, the all-knowing Google maps shows only a dull gray transected by the mysterious Westshore Avenue, though no such road exists.

A praying mantis seeks refuge in the tall grasses of the secret park.

A praying mantis seeks refuge in the tall grasses of the secret park.

The small peninsula was born out of the construction of the Verrazano Bridge in the 1960s when excavated material from the project was deposited on the shore of Gravesend Bay. Most of the new land was incorporated into the existing Drier-Offerman Park, but for some reason, this small finger of land was left out of the plan. Through the 1970s, it served as an illegal junkyard, but by 1982, developers came forward with a plan to construct a seaside residential development at the site. Apparently, the project never came to fruition. The city of New York suggests environmental remediation as a condition for future development.

Will Ellis_AbandonedNYC_Brooklyn, Secret Park07

Concrete construction debris can be found throughout the lot.

Will Ellis_AbandonedNYC_Brooklyn, Secret Park06

The peninsula has few trees aside from these saplings.

Will Ellis_AbandonedNYC_Brooklyn, Secret Park08

The ruins of an old marina rot on the northern edge of the property.

Inside a wooded section behind the baseball fields of Calvert Vaux Park.

Lush foliage thrives in a wooded section behind the baseball fields of Calvert Vaux Park.

On the north shore of the peninsula, decaying pilings show the outline of a former pier and odd construction debris lie scattered throughout the landscape. A family of squatters lives comfortably out of industrial containers near the lot’s entrance, where a handful of abandoned watercraft comes to the surface at low tide. Beer cans and fire pits point to recent nights of youthful revelry, but by daytime, fishermen flock to this desolate place to cast their lines into the muddy gray waters of Gravesend Bay. At the shoreline, a few minutes of rock flipping will fetch you dozens of small green crabs. On a recent visit, I was amazed to meet two hunter/gatherers harvesting these fruits of the sea by the bucket, though I wasn’t tempted to try one.

I’d wager that it won’t be long before the development potential of the site is realized, but for the time being, the unkempt wilds of the secret park offer a rustic alternative to the paved walkways and manicured lawns of our city parks. If you’re ever looking to live off the land in New York City, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more suitable spot to pitch a tent.

A local man hunts for crabs under the rocks.

A local man goes crab hunting.

Will Ellis_AbandonedNYC_Brooklyn, Secret Park09

The sun sets on a creek at the north side of Gravesend’s secret park.


 

 


Discussion

12 thoughts on “Brooklyn Wild: Gravesend’s Accidental Park

  1. Will, your photos really capture the mysterious and wild beauty of this forgotten piece of land.

    Like

    Posted by Shelley Montague Ellis | 2-2-14., 4:36 pm
  2. Thanks.

    Sent from Windows Mail

    Like

    Posted by Ligor Bass | 2-2-14., 7:48 pm
  3. This is totally amazing, So was this place just forgotten or man made with debris?

    Like

    Posted by Lisa Newmarch | 2-2-14., 10:21 pm
  4. Will, thanks so much….it was a short time since your last post and I was delighted to get an email about this new one…..always look forward to them.

    Like

    Posted by Frank | 2-3-14., 5:50 am
  5. GREAT FIND. I have lived in area for 36 years. Knew something was back there but never sure what was. Great Photos & find.

    Like

    Posted by ed | 2-24-14., 12:21 pm
  6. This place is is awesome to walk around in, its full of cool stuff, especially old derelict boats. If you want to see it then you should go now since its slowly turning into a park due to its popularity with some soccer leagues.

    Like

    Posted by SeaMammal | 3-1-14., 9:53 pm
  7. My family and I familiar with this place since 1996, We named this area: “There, where the grass is tall.” Up to the construction Calvert Vaux Park here was real wild live: I myself have seen rabbits, peacocks, herons. In winters there were a lot of Canadians gees. Now it is the past, that cannot come back. But what can be done that to keep empty spaces, trees and bushes as they are. One more thing: this place should clean more often. Many times I put there my tent and slept in it. It was great!

    Like

    Posted by Aleksandr Bystritskiy | 4-14-14., 5:15 pm
  8. in the early 90s i remeber a building being there with all the windows broken, eventually it was torn down

    Like

    Posted by Anonymous | 6-21-17., 9:59 pm
  9. This thing is gone RIP. At least, it’s impossible to get to without trespassing a boating club and/or some kind of industrial lot. Personally I wouldn’t risk it. Wish I had been into urbex four years ago.

    Like

    Posted by terrestrial alien | 10-6-18., 3:09 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Linkage: SI’s Turkey Nat’l Park; Why Americans Hate Commuting; More! – insiderater.com - 2-4-14.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow AbandonedNYC and receive new posts by email.

Instagram

📸 at North Brother Island in 2014. Home to an abandoned hospital complex where the infamous “Typhoid Mary” was quarantined, the island is currently designated a wildlife preserve. #tbt #nyc #northbrotherisland #abandoned #abandonedplaces #abandonednyc #urbex
More loveliness from my recent shoot at @maapilim’s SoHo pop-up, featured on @dezeen this week. #retaildesign #dezeen #interiordesign #minimalism #interiorphotography
Turn to the Sunday Business section of today’s paper for my image of art dealer David Zwirner’s strikingly minimal office. Part of the @nytimes “Power Source” series on the spaces where power sits. #onassignment #powersource #nyt
Dredging the archives today—here’s a detail of Harlem’s P.S. 186 taken in 2013. The school had been abandoned for 40 years before being transformed into affordable housing in 2016.🏚#abandoned #abandonednyc #urbandecay #urbex #urbanexploration
Blue Monday... for @publichotels 🏙 #publichotels #hospitalitydesign #blur #shutterspeed #infinity #nyc #interiordesign #blue
Recent work: Capturing @maapilim’s dreamy all-white pop-up in SoHo. The Tel Aviv based men’s skin and hair care line is setting up shop on Elizabeth St. for one month only. 🍶🇮🇱🧖🏻‍♂️#maapilim #soho #mediterraneandesign #minimalism #interiorstyling #retaildesign #interiorinspo
Way to be ahead of the curve, @revampnyc. A killer accent chair in @pantone’s 2019 color of the year, shot in late 2018. 🦑🍑🍣🎟🎀🦐#livingcoral #coloroftheyear2019 #pantone #interiordesign #interiorphotography #notafraidofcolor #design
Unmaking the bed with @publichotels. 😴 #hospitalitydesign #interiors #interiorstyling #interiordesign #publichotels #bedroomdecor #modern #interiorphotography
🥐 Fresh baked photography for @publichotels. ☕️ #goodmorning #interiordesign #breakfastnook #decor #modern #yellow #publichotels #coffee #hospitalitydesign
Vanishing into the mist—anyone know what this little ruin is on the Canadian side of the falls? #niagarafalls #niagara #ruins #abandoned #moody #landscapephotography #somewheremagazine
Quick pit stop to visit the falls yesterday. Such incredible atmosphere this time of year with all the wintry textures... ❄️ ☁️ #niagara #niagarafalls #winter #mood #mist #fog #ontario
Some tropical vibes to get you through Monday. 🌺🌴Swipe ⬅️ for the rest of this knockout ocean view. Design by Domino Creative. . . #interiordesign #interiorphotography #turksandcaicos #carribeanstyle #interiorismo #lifestyle #turks
%d bloggers like this: