Jacob Riis Park

RiisPark_signature_Bjoertvedt.jpg
Queens, NY
United States
Jacob Riis Park

Located on the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, the site of this public park was purchased by New York City in 1912 and named Seaside Beach. Landscape architect Carl Pilat won the design competition, but his plan was never implemented, and minimal construction activity took place between 1913 and 1930. The park was renamed in 1915 for Jacob Riis, a muckraking journalist, activist, and author. During World War I, a naval air station was constructed on the site, the beach area being left for recreational purposes. Roads were widened and parking lot improvements were completed in the late 1920s. The park was redesigned between 1934 and 1937 under Parks Commissioner Robert Moses. Landscape architect Gilmore Clarke of Clarke & Rapuano, New York City Department of Parks Chief of Architectural Design Clinton Loyd, and architect Aymar Embury II collaborated on the final 1936 plan, which remains largely intact. Oriented east/west, the linear park consists of a series of manmade and natural strips paralleling the beach. The focal points of the park are the ocean and People’s Beach along the southern edge. To the north of the beach is a mile-long boardwalk known as the Jacob Riis Park Promenade, which extends from the Back Beach to the Neponsit Health Care Center at the northern end of the park. The Back Beach, which features playgrounds, lawns, ball fields, and walkways bordered by black pine, seasonal flowering plants, and shrubs, is situated north of the boardwalk. To the north of the recreational area is a large parking lot, to the southwest of which lies a golf course. The park became part of the Gateway National Recreation Area in 1972, and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district in 1981.