The spot where Emmons Avenue becomes the eastbound ramp to the Belt Parkway, where Sheepshead Bay ends and Plumb Beach begins has one of New York’s newest playgrounds, named after a popular local politician. It marks a scenic start to the Jamaica Bay Greenway, a bike route that runs along the northern side of this lagoon.
From the playground’s highest point looking south, we see Sheepshead Bay widening onto the Rockaway Inlet. The tip of Kingsborough Community College is across the bay and in the background is Breezy Point. Behind it is the open water of the Atlantic Ocean.
Where It Is
The illustrative plan for this new park shows it on an undeveloped block between Brigham Street and the route of Knapp Street. To its east is Plumb Beach, which is shared by the city’s Parks Department and the National Parks Service. The initial name of this park was Brigham, after the street. The earliest mention of this street in a newspaper was in 1901, and I do not know if its namesake was a local individual, or perhaps related to the Latter-Day Saints. Local historian Joseph Ditta shared a map of this street from 1875 and a comment below writes that Brigham was a surveyor who laid out this eponymous street.
Fidler’s last elected position was in the City Council from 2002 through 2013, where he championed the creation of a new park at this site. In 2012, he ran for State Senate and lost by 14 votes, demonstrating the importance of voting. He died in 2019.
A park is like a democracy, with many interest groups and this park includes picnic tables, a playground, native grass, and access to the beach (no swimming).
On the water’s edge, the dock belongs to the DEP and underneath it is a sludge pipe in the event of a storm. The dock is fenced-off but could easily be redesigned to allow for boats and canoes. Looking north from this dock, the terrain of this park slopes to the shoreline, with the playground at a high point to withstand flooding. Resiliency is the buzzword here as residents still speak of their experiences from Hurricane Sandy in late 2012.
Looking east from Lew Fidler Park is the curvy shoreline of Plumb Beach. Prior to the construction of Belt Parkway, Plumb Beach was an island, separated from the rest of Brooklyn by Hog Creek. This phantom stream was covered by the highway and this beach.
Looking at the 1924 aerial survey from the DoITT NYCityMap, we see on the bottom the tip of Manhattan Beach. Emmons Avenue is highlighted, and at the top the neighborhood of Gerritsen Beach was being developed. The S-shaped inlet at the eastern tip of Emmons Avenue was Hog Creek, where Lew Fidler Park is now. At best, the inlet was an ephemeral stream shaped by tides, storms and currents.
Looking north from a play structure, we see Knapp Street intersecting with Emmons Avenue just before it enters the Belt Parkway. As a parent of young children trying to spell correctly, the name Knapp disturbs me. The K is silent and there’s a useless second P, and I’ve often remarked that this language is 500 years overdue for a spelling reform.
In winter the sun sets early. The swings atop the constructed mound at Lew Fidler Park are an ideal spot to watch it set.
In the News:
Courier-Journal reports on the restoration of Mill Creek in Louisville.
Star-Tribune reports on the daylighting of Phalen Creek in St. Paul, Minnesota.
BoiseDev reports that the proposal to daylight Cottonwood Creek in Boise has been cancelled citing the high cost of the project.