Known as the "greenest borough," Staten Island has more than 12,300 acres of protected parkland and is home to over 170 parks. With this great number and variety, our parks can't be beat! These parks provide a plethora of recreational activities to satisfy both the adventurer and the easy-going.
Reeds Basket Willow Swamp Park
This hidden park located in the heart of Todt Hill, on Ocean Terrace, consist of 55 acres of remarkable parkland and three bodies of water. To most, this park is unknown, however there are hiking trails perfect for taking a stroll and exploring the nature. Primarily, one can find red and white oaks, hickories, tulip and beech trees, sweet gum, and red maples. After the park was excavated for a gas pipeline about 40 years ago, it left the soil susceptible for new growth. Currently new vegetation such as sassafras, gray birch, blackberries, wildflowers, and many other trees and shrubs can be found throughout the park's pathway. If you're looking for a scenic, and peaceful place to hike, the yellow trail is one path that is available for use. It can be found on Ocean Terrace near Todt Hill Road at the top of Emerson Court.
History of the Park
During the first half of the 19th century, the Read family owned the land, which had been passed on from several generations. Now, the name has been manipulated, however the family still remains the inspiration behind the park's unusual name. Considering the soil was moist and swampy, ideal for willow trees, John Read planted a purple willow tree which thrived in the damp conditions. Later on, Read used the bark of these trees for basket-making, which in turn became a part of family tradition. Unfortunately, after the property was sold and no longer received human care, the purple willows began dying out and can no longer be found in the park. Since then, in order to preserve the park's wildlife, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation designated the property as a protected freshwater wetland in 1978, protecting it from destructive development.
Deere Park, a 40 acre parkland, is located not too far from Reeds Basket Willow Swamp Park - just across Ocean Terrace. These 40 acres are dominated mostly by oaks, however one can find wild blueberries and azaleas sprinkled throughout the park as well. Oddly enough, a common feature of this park are owls and bats. Eastern screech, northern saw-whet, great horned, and barn owls frequent Deere park with occasional barred owls. As for the bats, they take shelter within the area and feed off the abundance of insects the park's swamp provides to them.
These 40 acres of parkland, are just a piece of the 2800 acres of Staten Island's Greenbelt, which happens to be one of the largest urban parks in the country. The Greenbelt consists of a compilation of public and private parks all throughout Staten Island. One of the Greenbelt's longest marked trails, and most popular, is the Blue Trail. This trail starts from Staten Island Boulevard close to Petrides and leads to one of the highest points on the eastern seaboard, a hill near the top of Todt Hill Road and Ocean Terrace. It has been said that During the Revolutionary War, this point, near Todt Hill Road and Ocean Terrace, was used as a lookout point to guard against British forces.
Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds
Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds consist of three camp sites encompassing over 500 acres of land. Each of the campsites in Staten Island, Rockland County, and Long Island have unique qualities that provide for varying camp experiences. The Staten Island site, located at 1131 Manor Road, not too far from Tom Crimmins Realty, offers 75 acres worth of beautiful woods, open meadows, rolling hills, and two ponds. As for activities, one of the ponds has row boats that can be used, in addition to a pool, ball fields, fun playground equipment, hiking trails and many other recreational activities.
History of Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds
Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds was establish in 1953 with the help of the UJA Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, who had hopes of uniting all Jewish Community Centers under a common campground. This would essentially create a large scale campground that would provide a multitude of different recreational activities and opportunities that all the smaller community centers provide. Eventually, using the vision provided by the director of communal Planning at the UJA Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, Graenum Berger, as well as the $1 million contribution from the Henry Kaufmann Foundation, the plan for the campground was on its way. Today, its 500 acres of land is home to 14 day camps, affiliated with 15 different Jewish Community Centers across the metropolitan area. Though it was originally founded with hopes of combining Jewish Community Centers, all are welcomed at Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds to enjoy fun and unique adventures.
When the camp had just recently opened, then known as Flora Haas Day Camp, children would travel to Staten Island by ferry and bus since the Verrazano Bridge had not yet been built. Due to this reason, the Henry Kaufmann Foundation and the UJA- Federation both urged for an expansion, creating other sites with the Staten Island camp as a model. In 1955, this plan was successful, leading with the purchasing of the Pearl River Site and construction underway. By 1959, places such as Brooklyn, Queens, and Nassau County were also looking for a community center, such like Staten Island and Pearl River, to match their growing population of children. Finally after a long search for green acreage in Long Island, Fred Rose and Norman Goetz arranged the purchase of the third site in Wyandanch, New York. This site has since grown to a wonderful complex of trails, shelters and pools, perfect for children to find ways to experience fun outdoor activities.
Silver Lake Park
Silver Lakes Park is another well-known park on Staten Island, located on the north shore. Some of its surrounding neighborhoods include West Brighton, Tompkinsville and Grymes Hill. Silver Lake Park has had variety of historic uses, both recreational and commercial. Now, there are many activities one can do including enjoying the baseball, soccer, and football fields, the basketball and tennis courts, the playgrounds, and the spray showers. Silver Lake Park even has a dog-friendly area, where you can bring your pet to run around and enjoy the company of other dogs. Besides the park areas, another common feature are the golf courses. This 6,238-yard public course, was voted one of the best public courses in New York City, and is open all year round. In the winter, after the snow has piled up, it is very common to find people sledding down the steep hills of the course. Another wonderful feature of Silver lake Park is The Veranda Cafe. The cafe is located within the course and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a buffet menu and full bar.
Silver Lake Park History
Previous to the park's current existence, it used to be a casino and saloon during the 19th century. Many business owners would use the lake as a convenient way to harvest ice, in the cold winter months. Additionally, people who went to the park used the lake for boating and ice skating, when the weather allowed. In 1897, Silver lake Park actually hosted the National Skating Amateur Championship races, allowing many Staten Islanders a fun-filled opportunity to enjoy the beautiful park. However, by the end of the 19th century, Staten Island began growing greatly. Seeing the potential threat to natural parkland, residents suggested land be set aside for these parks. This lovely idea preserved Staten Island's parkland, while also providing a beautiful, scenic, area for people to explore and children to play. If your interested in more about Silver Lake Park, you can visit the NY Parks Website here: www.nycgovparks.org/parks/silver-lake-park
Staten Island is filled with pristine parks and is surely the place to be. With all of the wonderful parks and beautiful nature preserves, Staten Island is great for outdoor recreational activities. If you ever want to move to the "Borough of Parks," or find a convenient location near one of the many parks, contact your local agent at Tom Crimmins Realty at 718-370-3200. We have agents that can help you find your dream house or apartment anywhere on the island!