Crescent Beach Park
What was here before?
Staten Island was originally inhabited by the Lenape. The first recorded Europeans in this area were French merchants Jacques Guyon and Jacques Baudouen, who each received a grant of 200 acres from the local governor, Sir Edmond Andros (1647-1714) in 1675. A survey from 1676 shows a house on Guyon’s land. When the English seized the New Amsterdam colony from the Dutch in 1664, they called the area along the shoreline Clarendon, and the inland portion Newtown. Both were eventually united under the name of Giffords, for local government official Daniel Gifford. The name of Great Kills, adopted when the village was incorporated in 1865, refers to the streams of the region; kill is an Anglicization of the Dutch kell meaning “creek.”
By the mid-19th century, Great Kills had become a fishing community. Schooners would anchor at the mouth of Great Kills Harbor to harvest oysters, clams, and crabs. Much of this area was once marshland and used as a landfill in the 1930s and 1940s. Over time, erosion separated Crooke’s Point from the rest of Staten Island, and it became known as Crooke’s Island. It was reattached when Gateway Park was built in the 1940s. Today, Crescent Beach is comprised of several waterfront, wooded, and wetland sites on Tennyson Drive between Hales and Wiman Avenues. The waterfront location remains an important part of everyday life for both recreation and clamming.
How did this site become a park?
In 1995, NYC Parks acquired 26.9 acres of the Great Kills designated open space area from the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, who assigned another 40.731 acres for Crescent Beach over the next four years. In 2020, the landscape was reconstructed and new paths, seating, and a tot lot were added to the park.
This large park offers magnificent views of Great Kills Harbor and Raritan Bay. From the beach, visitors can see the skyline and the Verrazano Bridge. The park’s grasslands and oak woods offer year-round sanctuary to various animals including egrets, great blue herons, ducks, geese, gulls, and terns. In season, monarch butterflies, short-eared owls, and snow buntings can also be seen here, while the salt marsh is home to Diamond back terrapins, muscles, crabs, and snails.
What is this park named for?
This park and the surrounding community are named for the sandbar that separates them from Great Kills Harbor. At low tide, a crescent-shaped sandbar emerges from the foot of Wiman Avenue toward Crooke’s Point in Gateway National Recreation Area, which includes Great Kills Park, Gateway Park, and Crooke’s Point.