Gateway National Recreation Area

Gateway National Recreation Area is a National Recreation Area in Metro New York. This 26,607 acre (107.67 km²) park has four separate areas located in three boroughs of New York City and on Sandy Hook in central New Jersey.


The National Park Service administers Gateway in four units:


Gateway was established on October 27, 1972 as the country's first urban National Park. Jamaica Bay had been developed as a wildlife refuge by the New York City Parks Department beginning in the early 1950s with the creation of two large ponds and the planting of trees, shrubs and grasses. This excellent and extensive refuge is combined in Gateway NRA with much military history:

Floyd Bennett Field is significant in the history of civil and military aviation. It was New York City's first municipal airport. Floyd Bennett Field as Naval Air Station New York defended the nation and its ships from 1941 to 1971.

Fort Tilden is the last of a long line of fortifications that stood on the Rockaway peninsula, ready to defend the United States from attack from the sea and air. The site witnessed the use of the most technologically advanced weaponry of the period including smooth-bore cannons, sixteen inch naval rifles, and anti-aircraft missiles.

Jacob Riis Park was the site of Rockaway Naval Air Station, significant for its relationship to the famous NC-4 crossing of the Atlantic. This historic crossing ultimately changed commercial aviation.

Fort Wadsworth, important military high ground since the 1600s, was the oldest continuously used military site in the country when closed in 1994. Still used by the Coast Guard today it displays remnants of old fortifications.

Miller Field gained recognition as an airfield during World War I. Today the Elm Tree Light and an airplane hangar are all that remain, but dozens of athletic fields provide recreational opportunities.

Fort Hancock's guns and missile defenses and Sandy Hook Light also had a part in defending New York Harbor.


Estuary, salt marsh and coastal upland wildlife sanctuary, ocean beaches, barrier beach peninsulas, airstrip, historical military fortifications.

Flora and fauna

As the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge area (over 9,000 acres) has been managed as a sanctuary for decades, it is teeming with wildlife. Maps, guides, trail brochures and display rooms are available in the Visitor Center. Park Rangers give interpretive talks and lead nature walks year-round. Trails, benches, blinds and gardens provide "habitat" for human visitors. In 1980 a butterfly reserve was set aside and planted with attractant plants. Native species of frogs and peepers have been reintroduced. Egrets, heron, ibis and other waterfowl abound in the salt marshes. Tree swallows, kestrels, wrens, osprey, and a large population of barn owls also have been encouraged. In all, over 325 species of birds have been recorded here. All the usual shoreline and coastline suspects such as crabs, mollusks, and turtles are found here, too.

Reed grasses, beach grasses and native meadow plants such as bayberry and milkweed are found here as well. The "Upland Trail", in particular, explores some of the bushes and trees such as the Autumn Olive, Hackberry, Japanese Black Pine, Tree of Heaven, Eastern White Pine, Black Cherry, European Alder, Gray Birch, Sassafras, Holly and others.


Get in

Map of Gateway National Recreation Area

By plane

By subway or train

Directions from National Park Service website :

By bus

Directions from National Park Service website :

By boat

By car

Directions from the National Park Service Site:



Jamaica Bay

Breezy Point

Staten Island

This area is on the south shore of Staten Island.

Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook is extremely popular in summer with more than 5,000 visitors on beach days. Parking is $10 per car ($50 per season). Arrive early (or late) to be sure of a parking spot. Open dawn to dusk. No pets. Food concessions are available. Alcohol is allowed on this Federal park, unlike most New Jersey beaches. Clothing optional areas are marked.







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