Shirley Chisholm State Park

There's no shorage of outdoor seating at the park

Driving on the Belt Parkway over a decade ago, I remember seeing the landfill by Pennsylvania Avenue in Brooklyn. I recall the strange black netting over the garbage hills and the signs with Michael Bloomberg and Andrew Cuomo’s names on them, with an explanation of what was happening at the location. With the new administration, the signs changed to read Bill De Blasio, and architectural landscape plans were presented. But it seemed like it would forever look like an experimental nuclear site.

The former Fountain Ave. Landfill was in operation by the NYC Dept. of Sanitation from 1956-1983. It was deeded over to the National Park Service as part of Gateway National Recreation Area 1974. The initial massive restoration project to transform the land back into a viable ecosystem and public park cost $20 million dollars. The history of this site is extensive. If this sort of thing interests you, give this topic a google search.

On July 2, 2019 Shirley Chisholm State Park opened and since then, I’ve been wanting to visit. This past weekend I finally did.

Unprepared, I randomly pulled into the lot on the way home from picking up medication for one of the cats I’m fostering. I admired the vibrant painting of Shirley Chisholm on the side of the main entrance building. The painting is illustrated by Brooklyn muralist Danielle Mastrion.

A young guy at the booth offered me a map of the park. Out of the car and ready to go, I looked at the map and realized the park was expansive. It’s 407 acres, with 10 miles of bike trail. It towers 130 feet above sea level and has some of the highest ground in New York City – presenting  panoramic views of the Empire State Building, The Verrazano Bridge and New York Harbor.

I wanted to tour the park on a bike to cover more ground. I headed in the direction of the Bike Library, where the rentals are located. I soon learned that reservations are most times needed. The bikes were all booked up. Not a big deal, I knew I was coming back again! If you want to reserve a bike, click here.

Information signage lines the park trails

On my hike I read the park signage. The first being about Shirley Chisholm. The park is named after the late Brooklyn-born politician and educator who was the first African American Congresswoman, and the first woman and African American to run for President. Her accomplishments and contributions to our city and country are countless and inspiring.

As the trails continue other signage describes the ecosystem of Jamaica Bay and points out birds and other wildlife you may encounter during your visit. Besides walking and bike trails, the space offers picnic areas and fishing piers. Educational student tours and public tours are also available throughout the year.

I only managed to walk the trails by Penn Pier on the west side, the smaller section of the park. Next time, with a bike I’m ready to conquer the larger east side. My end goal being – bike from Rockaway to Shirley Chisholm State Park!

Shirley Chisholm State Park is located at 1750 Pennsylvania Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11239 – (212) 866-310

Shirley Chishom Park offers beautiful views of Jamaica Bay

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