Finding World’s End At Floyd Bennet Field
The GC team is always on the hunt for outdoor activities for kids and on the edges of New York City, Floyd Bennett Field– the forgotten airport that served the city and its greater area from 1930 to 1941– remains one such hidden oasis. During World War II, the space became a valuable naval airfield, and it remained so during the Cold War and through the Vietnam War. As the Vietnam War was winding down in 1971, the base was deactivated and named a Gateway National Recreation Area. Today, Floyd Bennett Field houses the New York City Police Department’s helicopter base as well as some community gardens, but is otherwise allowed to exist undisturbed.
Abandoned by industry, nature reclaimed the space: tall weeds grow between cracks in the pavement, vines curve around the stocky, square pillars of the barracks, hawks rest in the canopy of decaying staircases, and buildings are slowly consumed by the nature’s green. There is an eeriness to Floyd Bennett Field– some of the spaces are so removed as to be almost completely quiet– a novelty even in the nether-reaches of New York City– and it’s easy for one to lapse into thinking they’re the last person on earth.
For slightly older kids, this makes Floyd Bennett Field a not-to-be-missed destination in New York City. The entire park seems like one giant set for a dystopian action movie, just waiting for its protagonist. While decay is nothing new to New York, seeing nature absorb the trappings of civilization– and to do so on such a grand scale– is truly breathtaking. Visitors are free to roam– save a few areas devoted to the NYPD or to nature preservation. But even without these sections, the park is still massive and far removed from urban tumult, peaceful in its quietude.
Besides offering an interesting change of pace for an urban trek, Floyd Bennett Field offers a number of events and programs, which are free to the public. Foraged edible tours, free kayaking instruction, nature walks, sessions on how to safely build a campfire, and more are regularly offered (just check their website’s events page). For fans of aviation architecture, Floyd Bennett Field is considered one of the best representatives of Classic Revival/Art Deco around, as rangers-led tours offer an in-depth look at the park’s rich history.
Whether you’re looking for a good fishing spot, somewhere to camp in NYC, or just want a nice long walk and a breath of fresh air, Floyd Bennett Field has you covered. The ranger station at the entrance to the park (located in the converted airport terminal) has a friendly crew that’s ready to help, with plenty of information if you’re not sure what you’re looking to do. Just make sure you pack water, a good snack, and a healthy dose of adventure.
For more information on Floyd Bennet Field, visit their website.