Dyker Beach Park

Dyker Beach Ballfields

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

As early as 1639, Dutch settlers bought land from the Canarsie Native Americans in the neighborhood now known as Dyker Heights. By 1657, the area was annexed as part of New Utrecht, one of the six original Dutch towns that later joined to form the city (now borough) of Brooklyn. Waves of immigrants made their homes here; they arrived from Scandinavia in the 19th century, from Ireland and Italy in the early 20th century, and from China, Italy, and the former Soviet Union in more recent years.

The area was not developed as a residential neighborhood until the early 20th century, at which time it took its name, Dyker Heights. Block after block of one- and two-family houses were constructed, and land developers named the area after nearby Dyker Park and Dyker Beach. There are two differing stories concerning how these Brooklyn places received their titles. The namesake may have been the Van Dyke family, who helped to divide the land when it was part of the Dutch town of New Utrecht. Alternatively, the name may reflect the dikes that Dutch settlers used to drain and reclaim the marshy land.

Dyker Beach Park was assembled from eight pieces of land over the course of forty years. In 1895, the City of Brooklyn purchased the first parcel from the Dyker Meadow Land Improvement Company for a park. The landscape architecture firm of Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot planned a 50-acre saltwater lagoon, children’s playgrounds, bathhouses, lawns, and drives along the shore. The 1896 Annual Report of the Brooklyn Parks Department claimed that Dyker would be the “finest seaside park in the world.”

Although a portion of the site was used by the Dyker Meadow Golf Club, development of the remainder proceeded slowly. Bathhouses and roads were built, but the plans were revised somewhat in 1911 by Charles D. Lay, former landscape architect of the Park Board. He proposed to decrease the size of the lagoon to 16 acres and to add several concert groves. In 1918, work began to fill a swampy area of the park. Four additional parcels were acquired between 1924 and 1927 by assignment and condemnation. Another three lots were transferred to Parks in 1934.

Several sites within Dyker Beach Park are named for local leaders. Kimberly Cassas Walk and Anthony Mosomillo Memorial Courts are named for slain police officers. The southern portion of the property, Ben Vitale Ballfields, is named for a physical education teacher, and one of the ballfields takes its name from Joe Torregrossa Jr. and John Caiazza, leaders of the St. Bernadette’s Athletic Association.

Currently, this site is home to six grass ballfields. In 1995, two of these fields received complete renovations with $607,000 allocated by City Council member John A. Fusco. The renovation replaced the field and surrounding area.

Park Information

Directions to Dyker Beach Park

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