Broad Channel American Park
Broad Channel Community Park
Located on Cross Bay Boulevard between East 16th and East 18th roads, Broad Channel Community Park lies within the neighborhood of Broad Channel, the only island community in Jamaica Bay. The neighborhood stands on Big Egg Marsh, an island approximately 20 blocks long and 4 blocks wide. Prior to European settlement, the Jameco and Canarsie Native Americans frequented this area. During the 1600s, Dutch settlers established a community on the island and began harvesting oysters, clams, shrimp, and fish. Broad Channel remained a parcel within the Town of Jamaica until the consolidation of New York City in 1898.
In 1915, the City leased the island to the Broad Channel Corporation, which in turn leased properties to private individuals for the development of summer bungalows and houses. The island prospered as an exclusive retreat for city residents. After the construction of the Cross Bay Boulevard in 1923, Broad Channel underwent a surge in popularity. Following the construction of the Cross Bay Veteran’s Memorial Bridge in 1939, the island became easily accessible by car. That same year, the Broad Channel Corporation declared bankruptcy. The City acquired the island’s property titles, but for many years denied residents the right to purchase the land under their houses. The City made many attempts to alter the island’s purpose, but the local community resisted them all. Proposed changes included the construction of a commercial port and the extension of John F. Kennedy International Airport. In 1982, New York City granted Broad Channel residents the right to purchase their property. Broad Channel now has two churches, a volunteer fire department, two elementary schools, a public library, and the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.
Broad Channel Community Park resides in the splendor of Jamaica Bay, an 18,000-acre wetland estuary bordered by the Rockaway Peninsula to the South, Brooklyn to the West, and Queens to the East. The bay has a total area nearly equal to that of Manhattan, and contains numerous islands separated by a labyrinth of waterways. The region also supports meadowlands and two freshwater ponds. The wetlands of Jamaica Bay are protected from the harsh environment of the Atlantic Ocean by the Rockaway Peninsula, and provide a unique environment for both wildlife and urban recreation. The region is host to more than 325 species of birds, 50 species of butterflies, and 100 species of fin-bearing fish. A favorite stop for migratory waterfowl, the area is an integral part of the larger, regional ecosystem. Jamaica Bay is one of New York City’s most extraordinary natural resources, and remains undeveloped by virtue of federal, state, and City legislative and legal protection.
Parks acquired this property on July 10, 1989, via assignment by the Division of Real Property. Construction commenced in the fall of 1989 with the support of local residents, elected officials, and Community Board 14. The park opened in December 1992 and contains a newly constructed branch of the Queens Public Library. In addition to the Library, the park boasts two tennis courts, three full basketball courts, six handball courts, a children’s area with play equipment, benches, three game tables, and a flag pole dedicated to the veterans of Broad Channel.