Located on the North Shore of Staten Island, in the neighborhood of Mariner's Harbor, is Mariners Marsh Park. It is on the western section of the North Shore and is bordered by only two streets. The park is bound by Richmond Terrace to the north and Holland Avenue to the east.

mariners_marsh_400Prior to becoming a park, this parcel of land was an ancient Indian village and was used as an industrial site. In 1903, the Milliken Brothers' Structural Iron Works and Rolling Mill opened a plant on this site. The Milliken Brothers were one of the largest manufactures of steel products during this time. While opening this plant in 1903, the American Museum of Natural History excavated the spot to find the burial and village site of the Lenape Indians, along with many artifacts from them.

In 1917, the Milliken Brothers' Structural Iron Works and Rolling Mill closed and the Downey's Shipyard opened. Downey's Shipyard held governmental contracts during World War I and World War II to build and repair ships for the war. In order for the company to get the ships that were built into the Kill Van Kull, they had to expose the water table by sand mining and add rails and runners to transport them. By exposing the water table, it created basins which turned into the ten ponds that are located in the park today.

In 1992, the New York City Economic Development Corporation transferred Mariners Marsh to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. The New York City Economic Development Corporation was planning on building a sludge management facility on Arlington Marsh at this time. They decided to leave Mariners Marsh and the wetlands of Arlington Marsh to the local community for a public amenity, which is why it was transferred to the Department of Environmental Protection. The city ended up deciding to not build the sludge management facility. With the help of the Mariner's Marsh Conservancy and local community members, this land was finally transferred to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation in 1997. Mariner's Marsh Conservancy is a non-profit volunteer group that was founded in 1995 to protect this land.

Mariners Marsh Park is an empty parcel of land that has been neglected and left to its own natural habitat. This park is made up of ten ponds and the Pin Oak swamp, along with other wetland and upland habitats. Since the site of this park has been used for industrial purposes and illegal dumping, most of the land has been contaminated with heavy metals and other hazardous material. In 2006, the United States Environmental Protection Agency gave the City of New York three $200,000 brownfield grants to assess the environment at brownfield sites. Mariners Marsh Park was one of the three parks to be assessed with this grant. This grant is to help turn the empty land into a beautiful park for the local communities to enjoy. At this time, Mariners Marsh Park is closed due to environmental investigation and clean-up.

The habitats that make up Mariners Marsh Park are due to the past history of this site, along with the natural conditions that have taken over since then. The park is bustling with different species of plants and animals, even though the site does have contamination in it. The most important of these species is the American Bittersweet, which is a vine that has red and yellow berries that grow on it. This is the only site in New York City that contains this plant.

Posted by Anthony Licciardello on


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