Fort Wadsworth, a military base that was active for 200 hundred years (1783 – 1994) is now part of the National Park Service’s Gateway National Recreation Area. Its 226 acres include the old remains of the Forts themselves as well as park areas, beach, wooded areas, wildlife, and modern housing. The Verrazano Narrows Bridge, which spans the Narrows, extends over the Fort and seems almost within touching distance.
The original Fort still stands, although Battery Weed and Fort Tompkins are the only buildings where interior tours of the concrete and stone artillery batteries can be arranged. The old slitted gunnery windows overlooking the Narrows, and the labyrinth of tunnels, artillery, and powder rooms give a bleak, somber perspective of the lives of soldiers guarding New York Harbor.
The beach is tranquil, with shades of blue and green. I am nearly alone, as I begin to take photos. The only sounds are wind, water and the seagulls. The waterfront stretches out for 2 miles. Later on, I walk through tree-lined paths to Crooke’s Point, which was once a private island.Out in the distance, the Atlantic Ocean and Sandy Hook NJ.When the sun begins to set, I turn towards the bay and the boat marina.
Part of the National Park System (NPS), Great Kills Park, Staten Island is 580 acres of beaches, woodlands, and salt marshes.There are walking trails, jogging and biking paths, sports fields, playgrounds, the swimming beach, fishing, nature trails, and a public boat launch. There is a model airplane field! Birdwatchers love this place, with its diverse habitats for numerous species of birds. Fishermen cast reels at the Crooke’s Point, the southerly tip of the beach area.
Great Kills Harbor, located within the 580 acre park, is a man-made harbor. The harbor is a picture-perfect spot for boating, sailing, and glorious sunsets. The marinas, with more than 250 slips, attract boat owners from all over the east coast. Photography lovers like myself are drawn to Great Kills Park. Staten Islanders often pull in after work to connect with nature and watch the wild colors of the sunset.