If you take the 2 train from the stop near my home all the way to the end of the line, to Brooklyn College, you can find the Q35 bus. That bus will take you all the way down Flatbush Avenue, through Flatlands and Marine Park, parts of Brooklyn not served by the subway system. At the end of Flatbush Avenue you find Floyd Bennett Field, the city’s first municipal airport, the pet project of Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. Continue on Flatbush and you find a bridge, the Marine Parkway Bridge, home to Peregrine Falcons and the link to the Rockaway Peninsula. Right after the bridge there’s a random stop in the road next to an overpass where you can get off and start walking to the water. This sign helps show the way:
To your right is Fort Tilden, an abandoned military installation, and beyond that Breezy Point, the Irish Riviera, the private community of cops and firefighters that burned in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. In front of you is Jacob Riis Park, the People’s Beach, one of the many public parks built in the middle of the twentieth century by Robert Moses. Beyond that is the Atlantic. It is a quiet place to watch the tide come in.
The body of water you just crossed is called the Rockaway Inlet, and it separates the Rockaway Peninsula from the mainland of Brooklyn. The Inlet connects the waters of Jamaica Bay, in the east, to the Atlantic Ocean.
Jamaica Bay is a marshy saltwater estuary that is home to numerous birds, fisherman, public employees, two airports (one closed, one still operating), horseshoe crabs, sewage treatment plants, coyotes, endangered turtles, and many others. It is one of the more isolated corners of New York City, and it is going to be the subject of three pamphlets this year, generously funded in part by the Brooklyn Arts Council. I’ll be looking at the history, the infrastructure, the communities and the ecology of the Bay, and I’m hoping to host a few events in the area as well. I’ll be updating myself and you on my progress here, hopefully semi-regularly. Wish me luck and watch this space.