Staten Island Greenbelt
200 Nevada Ave
Staten Island, NY 10306
Thirty-five miles of trails wind through the 2,500 wooded acres of New York's largest park. Fortunately, the central visitor's center at High Rock provides maps of the trails, along with descriptions of the various swamps, forests, fields and wildlife nestled within the greenbelt's eight separate sections. Free programs and hikes are also provided by the Urban Park Rangers.
The Great Swamp at Farm Colony offers visitors a good view of the vanishing wetlands, and Reeds Basket Willow Swamp encompasses three ponds where purple willows once used in basketry still grow. Nearby Deere Park's spectacular views of Manhattan and New York Harbor provide a striking contrast to the surrounding forest. Willowbrook Park contains several popular baseball fields, as well as a large fresh-water pond and the Red Maple Swamp.
The greenbelt's largest section is LaTourette Park, which includes a golf course and Historic Richmond Town which boasts Voorlezer House, the oldest elementary school in the country.
The effort to connect the tracts that now form the Greenbelt into one contiguous park occurred in response to the increasing urbanization of the area, following the opening of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in 1964. Woodlands were cleared, and streams, ponds and wetlands were filled as the region's landscape was being permanently altered. A private group of citizens, working to halt the construction of the Richmond Parkway, pressed for the acquisition of all the natural areas in the vicinity. With the establishment of its centerpiece, High Rock Park, in 1965, the formation of the consolidated Greenbelt was well on its way, with its official designation taking place in 1984.
Since the region was preserved as a means of protecting a portion of the island's natural habitat, much of the park's tidal and freshwater wetlands, woodlands, open fields and meadows have been retained in their native state. Within the park is an outcrop of rare serpentine bedrock which underlies the length of the North American continent. The Greenbelt is one of the few places in which this dense, waxy, green and brown rock is exposed above the surface. Kettle holes, steep hills and large boulders are marks of the movement of the Wisconsin glacier. The variety of soils deposited during the glacier's passage allowed for a diversity of plant and animal species to inhabit the region. Today these areas function as resting places for migratory birds.
THE GREENBELT CONSERVANCY
The Greenbelt Conservancy, Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation formed in 1989 to protect and preserve Staten Island's Greenbelt Park. Its continuing legacy is stewardship of the park's priceless, natural areas. In partnership with the City of New York / Parks & Recreation, the Greenbelt Conservancy is dedicated to promoting conservation and preservation of natural areas and increasing public awareness, support, and enjoyment of the Greenbelt. The Conservancy is responsible for the prudent management of its endowment to benefit the Greenbelt.
For more information, call (718) 667-2165.