Manhattan Beach Park

Dana Borell Garden

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

What was here before?

Manhattan Beach was the site of a self-contained summer resort on 500 acres of salt marsh built in 1876 by real estate developer and railroad tycoon Austin Corbin (1827-1896). Corbin opened the opulent Manhattan Beach Hotel in 1877, followed by the Oriental Hotel in 1880, and the Argyle Hotel in 1882, transforming the sandy peninsula into a resort for upscale Manhattanites. The opening of amusement parks in Coney Island coupled with the closing of racetracks in 1910 in Sheepshead Bay, led to the swift decline of the hotels. Residential development began in the area in 1907, redefining the character of the neighborhood.

How did this site become a garden?

This garden is part of Manhattan Beach. The federal government acquired this land in 1942 for the site of a Coast Guard and Maritime training station. After eight years of negotiations, New York State bought this 16-acre waterfront property from the federal government and turned it over to the City for park purposes in 1951, and the park opened to the public in 1955.

On September 18, 2005, the Manhattan Beach Community Group (MBCG) dedicated this garden to local community leader Dana Borell.

Who is this garden named for?

This garden honors Dana Borell (1936-2004), a local activist in the Manhattan Beach area.

Borell was raised in Brooklyn and graduated cum laude from Brooklyn College and earned a master’s degree from New York University. She started her career as a laboratory teacher at nearby James Madison High School.

She championed for her community and was instrumental in improving the quality of life for this district. During her eight years as president of the Manhattan Beach Community Group, she prepared and guided a proposal that the MBCG be designated as the local redevelopment authority for the disposal of the Federal properties on Quentin Street.

Borell occupied many leadership positions including President of District 22 Conference of Parents' Associations, Community Board 15 member, Member of Coney Island Hospital Advisory Board, and President of P.S. 195 Parents' Association. In these roles, she helped beautify and modernize Manhattan Beach and was instrumental in regulating the speed limit and double parking in the area.

Borell served her community until her death in 2004. She was awarded several commendations including several proclamations, a community service award, and a day dedicated to her by Borough President Marty Markowitz on December 10, 2003.

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