Hoffman Island, Staten Island // courtesy: meadowblog.com
So you were walking the FDR Boardwalk this summer and always wondered what rested between us and Brooklyn. There are two artificial islands called Hoffman Island and Swinburne Island that rest undisturbed in the Lower New York Bay. The National Park Service currently manages both Islands for Gateway National Recreation Area.
In the 1870s, Hoffman and Swinburne were constructed from landfill, and designated as quarantine quarters for arriving immigrants who suffered from contagious diseases. Concrete walls served as barricades around island to prevent any epidemic from occuring.
When WW1 occurred and the United States passed the Immigration Act in 1923, the number of immigrants decreased. After enhanced medicines were developed and discovered, the quarantine quarters closed and abandoned until 1938.
Additional buildings were built on Hoffman Island for use as U.S. Maritime training school.
"After the U.S. Maritime school closed in 1947, the islands were abandoned until the New York City Parks Department acquired the islands for $10,000 in 1966 to preserve the natural landscape of the bay and harbor. At this time, city planners and politicians advocated joining South Beach and the islands to make up a giant park, but the plan was soon forgotten. In the 1980s, the city’s plans included opening new homeless shelters in some of the borough’s residential neighborhoods. In response to this, Staten Island residents proposed building a homeless shelter on both or either one of the islands, but the idea did not pan out either." (x)