Brady’s Pond, Staten Island

Having visited Indian Pond, the entirely private waterway in the Bronx, I return to Staten Island, the borough with the most ponds. The borough has another superlative to share: the last freshwater pond in the city that has a beach for swimming.

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In the image above, the pond is seen from the eastbound service road of the Staten Island Expressway.

Mostly Private

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With the exception of the city-owned Brady’s Pond Park on the pond’s northeast corner, the pond is surrounded by residential properties that jointly contribute to the maintenance of the pond. Using the GIS mapping site OasisNYC, the property lines show plenty of backyards facing the lake, but the lake itself is private property: Block 20360, Lot 1.

At the pond’s northeast corner is Brady’s Pond Park, but this city-owned property is a designated wildlife refuge so while it belongs to the public, one cannot use this park as a place for swimming in the pond.

History of the Pond

pond man.JPGThe history of development around Brady’s Pond and its downstream counterpart Cameron Lake began in 1861, when shipping executive Sir Roderick Cameron (1823-1900) purchased land around the two ponds and named his 150-acre estate Grasmere, after a village in the Lake District of England. It was used for breeding horses including the famous stud Leamington (1853-1878) whose offspring raced in the Kentucky derby, among other top courses.

In the 1880s, Cameron sold a portion of his land to Philip Brady, who placed a dam on the upper marshland that formed Brady’s Pond. A second, smaller pond downstream on the property became Cameron Lake, also created by a dam. During Brady’s ownership of the ponds, they were used for ice harvesting and skating.

Private Lake with a Beach

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Following Brady’s death, the property was subdivided and developed in pieces. In 1930, the Cameron Lake Club was founded by surrounding property owners to prevent further development and ensure the good condition of the pond. At the time, a footbridge spanned one of the coves in the lake, as seen in the above postcard. Otherwise the scenery hasn’t changed much since then.

pond 3.JPGInitially, membership in the club was restricted to property owners within a certain distance of the pond. While the entire pond is zoned as a single private parcel, the tiny beach operated by the Cameron Lake Club can be found on a private road branching off from Lakeview Terrace on the western side of Brady’s Pond. The club has a dock, beach, and a floating platform with a slide.

The lake’s water quality and appearance would be entirely dependent on the neighboring owners. For Brady’s Pond, two of the properties on its shore are public agencies: the city’s Parks Department, which operates Brady’s Pond Park as a nature preserve; and the state’s Department of Transportation, which is responsible for the Staten Island Expressway.

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While Brady’s Pond is almost entirely private, some of the water that enters into it includes excess storm water runoff from the highway, which endangers the quality of this lake. Although such runoff is rare, it worries property owners who paid top prices to live by the lake.

Learn More:

There is another private pond on Staten Island, Clifton Lake, but it does not offer memberships and does not have a beach.

In the News:

Williamsburg Patch reports on the tension between longtime activists for Bushwick Inlet Park and proponents of the Maker Park design.

Next City reports on the introduction of floating gardens to the Chicago River.

DNAinfo reports on ideas discussed to beautify the Calumet River in Chicago.

Architect’s Newspaper reports on the plan to revive a 1911 plan for Dallas that transforms its urban waterways into linear parks.

Tehran Times reports on the history of underground canals in Yazd, Iran.

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