- Public transportation: Q22 or Q35 bus to Fort Tilden.
- Car: Belt Parkway to Flatbush Avenue southbound. Continue over the Marine Park (Gil Hodges) Bridge. From the Rockaways, follow signs to Riis Park/Fort Tilden.
Like its neighbor Floyd Bennett Field across Jamaica Bay, Fort Tilden has a military history thanks to its view of lower New York Harbor.
Built during the War of 1812 to protect the city, the area continued this mission as a military base until 1974 when the land was transferred to the National Park Service. Today, along with other locations like Floyd Bennett Field and the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Fort Tilden is a component of Gateway National Recreation Area.
Though military buildings still remain (including two huge bunkers, Battery Harris East and West that once housed 70 foot cannons), the area also features ball fields, a community garden, and arts center.
But these 317 acres are perhaps most known for providing remarkable habitat for many plant and animal species, as well as being the last remaining dune system in the city.
Bird enthusiasts regularly visit Fort Tilden to see shorebirds (including the endangered Piping Plover) as well as hawks at two viewing areas. Botanists can enjoy seaside native plants like Spartina grasses, as well as upland clusters of Goldenrod, Bayberry, and Staghorn Sumac. These plants attract loads of insects like dragonflies and bees – plus migrating Monarchs make for a spectacular scene on warm autumn days.
Farther west lies the private community of Breezy Point, where the NPS manages over 1,000 acres of beach, providing excellent viewing of more shorebirds.
Various seasonal restrictions and fees apply to certain parts of Fort Tilden, so be sure to check in with the rangers before a visit (and before parking the car).
- Local Area Hotspots: Fort Tilden/Riis Park by the Brooklyn Bird Club, accessed on May 18, 2009 at: http://www.brooklynbirdclub.org/tildenriis.htm
- National Park Service, accessed on May 18, 2009 at: http://www.nps.gov/gate/index.htm
- The New York City Audubon Society Guide to Finding Birds in the Metropolitan Area by Marcia T. Fowle and Paul Kerlinger, published 2001 by Cornell University Press.
- Wild New York: A Guide to the Wildlife, Wild Places, and Natural Phenomena of New York City by Margaret Mittelbach and Michael Crewdson, published 1997 Three Rivers Press.
(Please note that while we make every attempt to list accurate information and directions, NYCNatureNews does not assume responsibility.)
Have a spot you’d like to recommend? We’d love to know about it, so please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2009 All rights reserved
NYC Nature News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.