"I weaved and dodged through cars and pedestrians as I zipped through the various neighborhoods of North Brooklyn and headed towards the Manhattan Bridge."
On a sweltering New York City Thursday, sunshine was in the sky, and no work on my calendar, I embarked on a journey from my sticky Bushwick apartment to Crookes Point, Staten Island.
I weaved and dodged through cars and pedestrians as I zipped through the various neighborhoods of North Brooklyn and headed towards the Manhattan Bridge. On the other side I reached Manhattan. I biked towards the East River where I took a small pedestrian bridge that takes you over FDR Drive and connects you to the East River Bikeway (ERB). The ERB is dynamic within itself, with access to some great parks and majestic views of every Lower Manhattan bridge: The Manhattan Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge and the well sought after Brooklyn Bridge. I took the ERB to the Staten Island Ferry, where first a security dog sniffed my belongings for weapons or harmful materials, they then corralled me into a pen with screaming babies in their strollers, burnt out parents, and other cyclists to wait for the ferry.
The Staten Island Ferry has some of the best views public transportation has to offer. If you take it midday, like I mistakenly did, you will find yourself trying to crawl through heaps of NYC tourists. Other than that, I had picture perfect views of Lower Manhattan, Jersey City, and the Statue of Liberty. What's the best part? The Staten Island Ferry is free. They also have beer and snacks for purchase which I sadly avoided. I wasn’t even half way done with my journey so I figured a pretzel and Tall Boy would have led to tragic events.
The ferry landed at the Northern most point of Staten Island, which to my surprise, resembled most New York City boroughs with their 99 cent stores, Bodegas, and questionable electronic stores. I disembarked the crowded ferry and road on, hugging the east ridge of the island until I reached the Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach. You can jump in the ocean for a swim, grab a bite to eat, or throw a line in the water from the fishing pier. I continued on my journey to the end of the beach, where I eventually had to break off into the suburbs where the homes look more like the stereotypical Staten Island I thought I would have arrived at.
Closing in on my final destination I entered Great Kills Park. I rode past the Great Kills Marina, past the Great Kills beach, and jumped on the gravel path to Crookes Point, the end of the Great Kills Park.
"Standing there, at the end of Crooke's Point, I felt like I could swim endless miles, never to touch land..."
Standing there, at the end of Crooke's Point, I felt like I could swim endless miles, never to touch land, and couldn’t help but think John Crooke (the philanthropist and business man that this portion of the park was named after) may have felt the same way. I had reached the end of the world, it was time to return to Bushwick. It was then I noticed a part of the park was closed down. Jarringly, it turns out it was once a radium dumping ground, but it is now part of a massive radium clean up. After reaching the end of the world and unexpectedly dodging toxic waste lands, I leaped back on the ferry to have a much deserved tall, ice cold Corona. Many New Yorkers don’t ever make it to Staten Island and I’m not sure why. I say, get out and try something new. Adventure may be lying right there in your own city.
Crookes Point was named after John J. Crooke a businessman and pioneering naturalist who built a wooden house in 1860 on the very beach I was standing. Interestingly enough, in 1916, Crookes Point broke away from Staten Island and became an island in itself, due to erosion. In 1949 the Park opened to the public. In 1973, Crookes Point was once again connected to Great Kills Park with dredge material. It was added to the Gateway National Recreation Area, which was used to protect lands and provide outdoor activities in dense urban areas.