The Story of the Islands Around NYC and Some Weird Facts

04-06-2021 05:56:25

Shooters Island

Shooters Island is a 17 ha (43-acre) island at the southern end of Newark Bay and just off Staten Island's North Shore. The New York and New Jersey state barriers run through the island, making a small section at the north end of the island part of the cities of Bayonne and Elizabeth in New Jersey.

Shooters used the island as a hunting preserve during colonial times, hence the name. George Washington used it as a drop-off point for receiving and sending messages during the Revolutionary War. The island was also a popular location for spies to have their clandestine meetings.

The island has largely been neglected during the 20th Century. However, Parks and Recreation listed it as a bird sanctuary on March 3, 1994. Primarily to prevent it from being completely demolished by the United States Army Corps of Engineers in an attempt to make navigation from Port Newark a little easier.

Swinburne Island

The 1.6 ha (4-acre) artificial island was once used as a quarantine drop-off for ships transporting immigrants carrying contagious diseases. It was built just for this purpose in 1873 when it was discovered that many new immigrant arrivals were harboring deadly and infectious diseases.

Anyone suspected of illness was taken to the quarantine hospital and only allowed entrance to Ellis Island after getting the all-clear. The island was initially called Dix Island but was renamed in honor of a military surgeon of the American Civil War, Dr. John Swineburne.

Broad Channel

Out of all the NYC islands, Broad Channel is the only inhabited island in Jamaica Bay. The small town is primarily the result of building by the Broad Channel Corporation in 1915, which filled in marshes and rented out parcels of land for $116 a year to anyone who would build a summer home in the area.

Until 1925, when Cross Bay Boulevard was constructed, the only way to reach the island was by ferry. For many years there was no sewage system on the island, and residents dumped their waste into the bay. This practice and the subsequent high pollution levels put a stop to any commercial or recreational fishing and clamming in the area.

U Thant Island

U Thant Island is a 1/2 acre (0.02 ha) artificial island halfway between the United Nations building and Long Island City. U Thant Island is its unofficial name in honor of the former United Nations Secretary-General from Burma. It is officially known as Belmont Island. A few of the NYC islands are artificial, but U Thant Island was a solution for the tonnes of materials excavated during the William Steinway underwater tunnels construction project.

Mill Rock

Mill Rock is south of Randalls Island and Wards Island and started as two small, separate NYC islands. It earned the nickname Hell Gate due to the danger it represented to ships passing through the area. In 1885, the Army Corps of Engineers created a massive detonation to join the two islands into one. The explosion was so powerful it was felt all the way through to Princeton, New Jersey, some 37 miles away.

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