Shirley Chisholm State Park

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Shirley Chisholm State Park
Shirley Chisholm State Park td (2019-07-14) 101 - Oyster Catcher Trail, Peregrine Trail.jpg
The Pennsylvania Avenue section of the park in 2019; the Fountain Avenue portion is in the background.
Shirley Chisholm State Park is located in New York City
Shirley Chisholm State Park
Location in New York City
TypeState park
LocationSpring Creek, Brooklyn,New York, United States
Coordinates40°38′35″N 73°52′32″W / 40.643082°N 73.875685°W / 40.643082; -73.875685Coordinates: 40°38′35″N 73°52′32″W / 40.643082°N 73.875685°W / 40.643082; -73.875685
Area407 acres (165 ha)
CreatedJuly 2019
Operated byNew York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
OpenAll year, 9 a.m. to dusk
StatusUnder construction

Shirley Chisholm State Park is a 407-acre (1.65 km2) state park that is under construction in southeastern Brooklyn, New York City. It is bound by Belt Parkway and Spring Creek Park to the north and Jamaica Bay to the south, situated atop the former Pennsylvania Avenue and Fountain Avenue Landfills. One section of the park opened in 2019; an expansion is expected to open in 2021.


Penn Pier, part of the first phase of the park, in July 2019

Located on the site of the former Pennsylvania Avenue and Fountain Avenue Landfills,[1][2] Shirley Chisholm State Park covers two peninsulas south of the Belt Parkway. The western peninsula, between Fresh Creek to the west and Hendrix Creek to the east, is located just south of Starrett City. The eastern peninsula, between Hendrix Creek to the west and Spring Creek to the east, is located south of Gateway Center and the neighborhood of Spring Creek.[3][4] The park is named after Shirley Chisholm, who represented the area as the first black U.S. congresswoman, and later became the first black female to seek a major-party nomination for U.S. president.[2][5][6]

At 407 acres (165 ha), the park is the largest state park in New York City. In addition, it is the third-largest park in Brooklyn, behind Marine Park and Prospect Park.[3] The highest point in the modern-day state park is on the Fountain Avenue Landfill at 140 feet above sea level.[7]

The initial phase cost $20 million and includes 10 miles (16 km) of bike paths and hiking trails, waterfront access points, and a pier at the head of Pennsylvania Avenue on the western peninsula.[4][6] Shirley Chisholm State Park also includes a "bike library" operated by Bike New York, which allows park users to borrow refurbished bikes for free, and a mural of Chisholm created by Brooklyn artist Danielle Mastrion.[6] The second phase of the park, to open in 2021, will include an entrance on Fountain Avenue, as well as additional educational programming.[3][8][9]

Site history[edit]

The Pennsylvania Avenue Landfill in 2017, prior to the park's establishment

Prior to development, the site of this park was mostly marshland and water. However, in 1930, Spring Creek Park and the Shore Parkway portion of the Belt Parkway were proposed by Robert Moses, along with several other parks and highways.[10][11][12] Accordingly, in August 1942, the New York City Planning Commission and Board of Estimate approved a project to dump landfill on the site as part of the city's post-World War II program, in order to create parkland on the site.[13]

Filling at the Pennsylvania Avenue Landfill began in 1956, while the Fountain Avenue Landfill began operations in 1961 or 1963.[14][15][16] At the height of usage, more than 8,000 tons of trash arrived daily at these two landfills, with nearly 40 percent of the city's refuse.[7] Throughout the landfills' operation, waste oil and other hazardous materials such as PCBs were dumped in the landfills,[17][18] resulting in the spread of respiratory diseases among residents of nearby Starrett City.[19] In 1972, the Gateway National Recreation Area was established by the National Park Service around Jamaica Bay. The two landfill sites were included in the Gateway Area in 1974.[20][21] As part of the creation of the preserve, the Department of Sanitation was contractually bound to close and cap both landfills by 1985.[20][22] By 1974, plans emerged to eventually turn the landfills into parks.[23] The Pennsylvania Avenue Landfill was closed in 1979, at a time when it was receiving 1,000 to 2,000 tons of municipal waste every day.[24] The Fountain Avenue Landfill was closed in December 1985.[7][21]

The landfills were declared a Superfund site around 1990, and in 1991 the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) assumed responsibility for the cleanup of the landfills.[25] In 1995 Jamaica Bay residents, concerned about health implications of the runoff from the landfills, reached an agreement with the city for the dumps' rehabilitation.[26] In 2002, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection commenced site remediation at a cost of US$235 million including the installation of a below ground barrier and an impermeable cap to support future use.[1] Following the opening of Gateway Center mall on the site in 2002, The Related Companies constructed an addition to Spring Creek Park circumscribing the mall, opening on May 2, 2003.[27] Afterward, the first tree seeds on the site were planted in the Pennsylvania Avenue Landfill with a density of 800 to 1,000 per acre (2,000 to 2,500/ha).[28] Over 1,200,000 cubic yards (920,000 m3) of fresh soil was spread across the landfill at a depth of up to 4 feet (1.2 m), and some 35,000 plantings and grassland species were placed in the soil.[29] Hendrix Creek was also cleaned up by the NYCDEP.[30]


The Fountain Avenue Landfill (pictured) will be developed into the second portion of the park.

In his State of the State address in January 2018, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his intent to build a 407-acre (165 ha) state park along 3.5 miles (5.6 km) of the Jamaica Bay coastline, adjoining the Pennsylvania Avenue and Fountain Avenue landfills.[31] The site would receive a $15 million renovation with paths, concession areas, restrooms, and recreational facilities. The state would work with the city and National Park Service on the project.[32] The state park was dedicated to Shirley Chisholm that September.[5][33] Another $20 million was allotted to the park in April 2019.[34]

On July 2, 2019, the governor and other public officials representing the park site attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Shirley Chisholm State Park, officially opening the park to the public.[3][8][9] The first portion of the park comprises the Pennsylvania Avenue Landfill; the second portion, the Fountain Avenue Landfill, will open in 2021.[4]


  1. ^ a b "Governor Cuomo Announces NYC's Largest State Park to Open in Brooklyn in 2019". Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. 2018-09-05. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  2. ^ a b Slattery, Denis. "State park named in honor of Shirley Chisholm opens on former landfill site along Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn". Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  3. ^ a b c d "Shirley Chisholm State Park opens on former landfill in East New York, Brooklyn". Crain's New York Business. July 2, 2019. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Kensinger, Nathan (2019-07-11). "In Brooklyn, a toxic dump is transformed into NYC's newest waterfront park". Curbed NY. Retrieved 2019-07-11.
  5. ^ a b Plitt, Amy (September 5, 2018). "Brooklyn will get 407-acre state park dedicated to Shirley Chisholm". Curbed NY. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Leonhardt, Andrea (July 2, 2019). "NYC's Largest State Park Debuts in East New York". BK Reader. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Kolbert, Elizaberth (December 26, 1985). "Key City Landfill Is Forced To Close, Adding Pressure To Find Alternatives". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "The city's largest state park opens in East New York". Brooklyn Eagle. July 2, 2019. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Ricciulli, Valeria (July 2, 2019). "First phase of Shirley Chisholm State Park debuts in Brooklyn". Curbed NY. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
  10. ^ "Spring Creek Park: History". New York City Parks Department. Retrieved November 18, 2015.
  11. ^ Natural Resources Group. "Natural Area Mapping and Inventory of Spring Creek 1988 Survey" (PDF). New York City Parks Department. Retrieved November 18, 2015.
  12. ^ "ASKS NEW CITY PARKS TO COST $20,000,000; Metropolitan Conference Urges Prompt Purchases, Chiefly in Queens and Richmond. BERRY GETS HONOR SCROLL Calls for a 'Normal' Pace in Public Projects and Predicts Agency to Coordinate Them". The New York Times. February 26, 1930. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  13. ^ "Borough Faces Fight For Spring Creek Park: Plans for Post-ward Development Of Jamaica Bay Area Held Up by the City". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. October 25, 1942. p. 10. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  14. ^ "New York City Landfills Past and Present" (PDF). 2011. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  15. ^ Eric A. Goldstein; Mark A. Izeman; Natural Resources Defense Council (1990). The New York Environment Book. Island Press. pp. 13–14. ISBN 978-1-55963-018-4.
  16. ^ Chang, Kenneth (September 6, 2009). "A Wooded Prairie Springs From a Site Once Piled High With Garbage". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  17. ^ Blumenthal, Ralph (1983-05-19). "Toxic Dumping in City Landfills Cited in a Study". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-07-11.
  18. ^ "The City; High PCB Level Found at Landfill". The New York Times. 1984-03-13. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-07-11.
  19. ^ "The City; Respiratory Ills Linked to Landfills". The New York Times. 1983-10-13. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-07-11.
  20. ^ a b Holloway, Lynette (April 3, 1994). "Neighborhood Report: Starrett City; Landfill Anxieties Underlined in Debate on Draft Study". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  21. ^ a b John Berger (June 22, 2012). Environmental Restoration: Science And Strategies For Restoring The Earth. Island Press. pp. 178–179. ISBN 978-1-59726-878-3.
  22. ^ Mormile, Dara (July 26, 2007). ""New" Landfill Parks To Become Reality In 2012". Canarsie Courier. Archived from the original on September 10, 2015. Retrieved November 19, 2015.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  23. ^ Fowler, Glenn (December 18, 1974). "City Will Expand Landfill Parks". The New York Times. p. 49. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 16, 2017.
  24. ^ Eric A. Goldstein; Mark A. Izeman; Natural Resources Defense Council (1990). The New York Environment Book. Island Press. pp. 13–14. ISBN 978-1-55963-018-4.
  25. ^ Witt, Stephen (July 25, 2008). "From dump to eden - Close-up look at new parkland". Brooklyn Daily. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  26. ^ Chang, Kenneth (September 6, 2009). "A Wooded Prairie Springs From a Site Once Piled High With Garbage". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  27. ^ "Brooklyn Goes Batty for Cricket". The Daily Plant. May 7, 2003. Retrieved May 16, 2017.
  28. ^ Chang, Kenneth (2009-09-06). "In Brooklyn, a Prairie Springs From Former Landfills". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-07-11.
  29. ^ "Shirley Chisholm State Park". Retrieved 2019-07-11.
  30. ^ "DEP Begins Dredging at Hendrix Creek". Retrieved 2019-07-11.
  31. ^ "Cuomo proposes 407-acre state park near Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn (updated)". Curbed NY. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  32. ^ Gralla, Joan (January 17, 2018). "New state park will be a 'treasure' on Jamaica Bay: Cuomo". am New York. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  33. ^ "Shirley Chisholm State Park in Brooklyn to be city's largest state park". News 12 Brooklyn. September 5, 2018. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  34. ^ "Brooklyn's new 407-acre Shirley Chisholm State Park to receive $20 million". Brooklyn Eagle. April 25, 2019. Retrieved July 3, 2019.

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