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Great Kills Park

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Title: Great Kills Park  
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Subject: Gateway National Recreation Area, Gorman Park, Playground 52, Willowbrook Park, Zion Triangle
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Great Kills Park

Great Kills Park
Type Urban park
Location Staten Island in New York City, New York, United States
Area 580 acres (230 ha)
Created 1949
Status Open all year, part of park closed

Great Kills Park in Great Kills, Staten Island is a part of the Staten Island unit of Gateway National Recreation Area. Part of the National Park System, it covers an area of approximately 580 acres (2.3 km2) of salt marsh, beach and woodlands stretching along two miles (3 km) of Staten Island's south shore.[1]


In 1860 the businessman and pioneering naturalist John J. Crooke bought a part of the land and lived in a wooden house at the beach. In 1916 an erosion cut the narrow spit of land and Crooke's Point became an island to itself. In 1929 New York City bought Crooke's Point and adjacent land and started to build a public park. Due to the Great Depression the work was delayed and the park could not be opened to the public until 1949. In 1973 the park became a part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.[2]

Great Kills Harbor, located within the park, is a man-made harbor that was created by joining Crooke's Island back to the mainland of Staten Island with dredge material.[3] The park is frequented by various species of birds due to the diverse habitats within the park.[4]

Radium contamination

NPS-map of the Park, displaying the closed areas in grey

Half of the park area was used as landfill in the past, and in 2005, radium (226Ra), a radioactive material, has been found in the sand in a depth of about 1-1.5 feet (30–40 cm).[5] A part of this material has been removed; altogether twelve places with radioactive contamination have been found until now.[6] Directly at the sources, a radiation level about 200 time higher than the natural background radiation has been measured.[5] In August 2012 the decontamination of the park was scheduled to proceed. A section of the park is closed to the public.[7]

Great Kills Harbor view


The park's main entrance is at Hylan Boulevard and Buffalo Street. On Hylan Boulevard many MTA buses operate. The Staten Island Railway station Bay Terrace is near the main entrance. With a boat, the park can be reached via the Great Kills Harbor.


  1. ^ Great Kills Park - National Parks of New York Harbor
  2. ^ NPS - Things To Do - Staten Island
  3. ^ The New York City Audubon Society guide to finding birds in the metropolitan area By Marcia T. Fowle, Paul Kerlinger, New York City Audubon Society p. 102
  4. ^ Where to find birds in New York State: the top 500 sites By Susan Roney Drennan p. 404
  5. ^ a b Great Kills Park Information on Radium Contamination vom National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior
  6. ^ Cabrera Services Hired for First Phase of Great Kills Park Cleanup
  7. ^ Great Kills Park Environmental Cleanup Project
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