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Pelham Bay Park

Pelham Bay Park - Glaciers of New York City

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

More than three times the size of Manhattan's Central Park, Pelham Bay Park is the City's largest park property. The park’s varied landscape was shaped by the slow journey of a passing glacier during the most recent ice age, which began around 1.5 million years ago. When the Earth’s climate began its dramatic cooling, huge masses of snow and ice formed in the arctic, sometimes two miles in thickness. The tremendous weight and pressure of the ice sheet caused the underlying snow to solidify, providing a surface on which glaciers could travel. During the Pleistocene Epoch, there were four glacial advances, the most recent being the Wisconsin ice sheet, which had the greatest impact on the land beneath New York City and Pelham Bay Park.

The Wisconsin ice sheet began its southward journey from the Arctic around 100,000 years ago, reaching what is now New York roughly 50,000 years later. By this time, it had lost some of its bulk, although it was still 300 feet thick and stretched from Massachusetts to Montana. As the glacier moved through this region, it deepened the bed of the Hudson River, carved out such geologic features as the Great Lakes and the Finger Lakes basins, and left its mark on the Adirondack mountains. The glacier also deposited tons of gravel and pebbles, moving boulders from the Palisades to Central Park, plowing up topsoil, and leveling the earth, filling in depressed areas with glacial till. The landscape of Pelham Bay Park, and all of New York City, have the Wisconsin ice sheet to thank for their current appearance

Directions to Pelham Bay Park

Know Before You Go

There are currently 2 service interruptions affecting access within this park.

Nature CentersOrchard Beach Nature Center

The Orchard Beach Nature Center is currently closed for repairs.
Anticipated Completion: 09/01/2017

PlaygroundsSweetgum Playground

NYC Parks has removed slides in this park due to a manufacturer recall. The manufacture is currently working on an improved design and redesigned slides will be installed as soon as possible.

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