Spring Creek Park
Spring Creek Park
Originally, the bay was a fishing and hunting ground for the Canarsee and Rockaway Native Americans, who were displaced by Dutch settlers. The area remained largely unsettled until 1880, when the New York, Woodhaven, and Rockaway Railroad built a wooden trestle five miles long across the bay, connecting the Rockaways to the rest of Queens. Industry expanded along the shores of the bay, and their waste, along with sewage disposal, polluted the bay. In 1916, the board of health banned fishing and swimming in the bay, and all the summer resort hotels that had been built along the bay closed down. The ecosystem has been cleaned extensively in recent decades, as people have come to view pollution as a matter of environmental concern rather than merely a health issue. Today, a part of the bay and its surrounding area is protected as part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, created in 1972 under the National Park Service.
The Shore Parkway section of the Belt Parkway runs through Spring Creek Park. Proposed by Robert Moses in 1930 to provide limited-access highway from Manhattan to Long Island, the 36-mile long Belt Parkway was completed in 1941. Moses also planned a series of "ribbon parks" similar to those found on the Long Island Parkways. Therefore, much of the Belt Parkway runs through parkland, particularly on the eastern shore. The Shore Parkway section runs from the western terminus at the Gowanus Expressway in Bay Ridge to the Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach and accommodates approximately 140,000 vehicles each day.
The original land for Spring Creek Park was acquired by condemnation in May 1938 as part of the construction of the Shore Parkway. In 1992, the Department of Real Property assigned another section of property to Parks, more than doubling the size of the park. The northern and farthest western portion of the park lies in Brooklyn, while the southern portion below 157th Avenue is contained in Queens. In 1994 and 1995, two more parcels in Queens, on Fairfield Avenue, were added to the park. In keeping with the wilderness of the surrounding area, the park has been left mostly undeveloped.
Almost entirely marshland, the park serves as open greenery for various species
of birds including great blue herons, egrets, red-winged blackbirds, pheasants,
and mallards, as well as animals such as deer, raccoons, and muskrats. Spring
Creek Park is a great place for nature lovers to visit any time of year.