In the course of choosing which waterways to profile in my book, the city’s golf courses hold many of them, including natural streams, inlets of the sea and artificial ponds used as water traps. Generally, I avoided those designed as part of a course with no natural history predating the links.
And then there’s Trump Links at Ferry Point Park in the Bronx, an upscale course that transformed a former trash landfill into a landscape of rolling hills reminiscent of Trump’s two courses in Scotland.
Where it is
The course occupies 222 of Ferry Point Park’s 414 acres to the east of the Throgs Neck neighborhood, where the Whitestone Bridge crosses the East River. In the plan above, the unnamed pond from the title photo appears in the northwest corner of the golf course, near its border with Saint Raymond’s Cemetery.
Nearly four decades after the last heaps of refuse were dumped in the park and numerous failed proposals to clean up and reclaim the land, Donald J. Trump submitted the winning bid to cap the landfill with a Jack Nicklaus-designed course. The transformation was controversial on account of its high cost to the city and the exorbitant user fees in comparison to other privately run golf courses at city parks. The first four years of the 20-year lease of public parkland are rent-free for Trump. Along the edges of the golf course, the transformation plan included playgrounds, a comfort station, and a waterfront path.
Prior to the use of Ferry Point as a landfill, most of the parkland was a cove of the East river known as Baxter Creek Inlet. It was shallow and undeveloped. To its west, Old Ferry Point served as a landing for ferries connecting to Queens on the opposite side of the East River. On the western edge of the photo above is Westchester Creek, which I’ve written about previously.
The infusion of federal funding for infrastructure improvements during the Great Depression and the upcoming 1939 World’s Fair spurred the city to build the Whitestone Bridge at Ferry Point and to cover Baxter Creek Inlet with landfill with park expansion in mind.
The curved shoreline of the expanded Ferry Point Park resembled that of Pelham Bay Park, where land was reclaimed and a crescent beach was created for the public. As late as 1964, the beach was still the official goal of the Parks Department, along with the never-built Clearview Beach at Little Bay in Queens, and two breaches in Throgs Neck.
The deep water and pollution in the East River, and neighborhood concerns about traffic congestion kept pushing off these plans.
Looking at plans for Ferry Point Park’s waterfront, it will have a small beach, but not for public swimming. Near its eastern entrance, a small cove would hint at the once larger indentation in the shoreline that was here before the landfill.
From a 1950s Parks Department report, we see the unbuilt Ferry Point Park showing baseball fields, and pitch-putt golf course, and the beach on a crescent-shaped shoreline. Instead, most of the park to the each of the Whitestone Bridge was a landfill until the turn of the millennium when the Trump Organization stepped in to develop its golf course.
The Unnamed Pond
Considering the developer’s penchant for affixing his name to everything that he touches, it’s a surprise that this artificial pond remains without a name. On one hand, as he is the operator of the golf course, he could do something about it by putting a name for it on the course’s maps. On the other hand, the ultimate owner of this land is the City of New York, which could also give it a name… even a name that Trump may not like. Its location on the distant edge of the property for now has kept it as a hidden water within an otherwise pricy property.
In the News:
News 12 Brooklyn reports on a sewage spill at Coney Island Creek.
DNAinfo reports on the restoration of historic boat landings at The Lake in Central Park.
I love your reports on these hidden waterways…I am mostly interested in Westchester Creek and Baxter Creek area…