Measuring approximately 580 acres in the vicinity of the Lower and Raritan bays of Great Kills Harbor on Staten Island, this park is best known for its beachfront recreation. The park has a rich history despite the absence of historic structures, including New Dorp Beach, the location of the second permanent European settlement on Staten Island, and Crooke’s Point, home of John C. Crooke, a businessman and naturalist who purchased the peninsula’s point in 1860 and resided in a log cabin on its shore.
Between 1944 and 1948, Great Kills Harbor was created by the re-joining of Crooke’s Point to Staten Island by the New York City Department of Parks under Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, during which time severely contaminated waste material was topped by clay and sludge that had been reclaimed from City sewage. Following this period of ambitious rebuilding and reconnecting, the former landfill site was opened as a city park in 1949, its acreage including a fixed bulkhead, boat basin, bathing beach and bathhouse, parking fields, and largely unstructured recreational areas. The site remained a city park until 1972, when Great Kills Park joined Gateway National Recreation Area as a part of the Staten Island Unit. The park features a rich diversity of ecological resources, including the only osprey nesting site on Staten Island. Its recreational amenities include swimming beaches, a marina, a beach house, hiking and biking trails, fishing areas, and a boat launch ramp.