Seaside Wildlife Nature Park

Seaside Wildlife Nature Park

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

What was here before?

The region’s earliest inhabitants were the Lenape. After Frenchman Jacques Guyon (1637-1688) settled here in 1664, this area was populated by Europeans by the end of that century.

Originally called “Gifford” after local official Daniel Gifford, the neighborhood’s name was changed to “Great Kills” in 1865.  The Dutch word “kills”—creeks in English—refers to waterways like Richmond Creek to the north. Much of the area’s housing was built in the 1920s and 1930s during a period of extensive residential development. Across the bay is Great Kills Park, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, established in 1972 as one of the National Park Service’s first two urban units.

How did this site become a park?

Occupied by the Great Kills Hotel in the late 19th to early 20th century and vacant for much of the 20th century, the site was transferred to from the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services to NYC Parks in 1999.

Community members led cleanup efforts and established a small garden around 2001. They advocated for improvements, including a gazebo and open lawn around 2005 and a renovated playground in 2010. The playground features many nautical motifs as a tribute to the local seafaring history and its proximity to Great Kills Harbor.

What is this park named for?

Seaside Wildlife Nature Park is named for the variety of flora and fauna found at this semi-saltmarsh, waterfront park on Great Kills Harbor. The park’s 20-acre habitat for some 68 species of birds including ospreys, terns, mute swans, and cormorants attracts ornithologists from around the city. Park visitors can also find crustaceans like  horseshoe crabs, mussels, clams, and crabs. The park’s trees and plants include honey and black locusts, pine and white oaks, eastern redbuds, mulberry, milkweed, and invasive fragmites. 

Park Information

Directions to Seaside Wildlife Nature Park

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