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Bayswater Point State Park

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17-acre state park in Queens

Place Details

Borough : Queens
Neighborhood : Far Rockaway
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Adrienne Onofri

Bayswater is the name of a forgotten resort of Rockaway that could be considered a forerunner of the Hamptons and other affluent Northeastern beach communities. Bayswater Point State Park was originally private property -- one of the grand estates of Bayswater, a posh community developed in the 1870s that was made up primarily of private estates and included yacht clubs and fox hunting.

As part of the former Bayswater resort, Bayswater Point State Park matters because like so many places in Rockaway’s earlier history, it has been lost (or endangered). It represents that era when Rockaway was a more exclusive destination, before expanded transportation and large-scale development made it popular with the middle and working classes. And also the era before wealthier people left the city altogether for their weekend homes. Bayswater also matters because it is a uniquely residential enclave within Far Rockaway; even after the original resort began to disappear, the area stayed noncommercial -- and it still is. Most nonresidents are not even familiar with the name Bayswater, and you don’t hear it as often as the names of other places in/around Far Rockaway, like Arverne and Edgemere.

Bayswater Point State Park is located all the way at the north end of Mott Ave. and occupies 12 acres at the tip of a small peninsula jutting into Jamaica Bay’s Mott Basin. The park is highly unusual for New York City in that it is very tranquil, particularly once you reach the waterfront -- which is separated from the street/park entrance by grasslands and foliage. Another unusual thing about it is that when the tranquility is "disturbed," this occurs due to aircraft taking off or landing at JFK Airport, located just across the bay.

The Bayswater resort either grew out of or was centered on (records are scarce and unreliable) the Bayswater House hotel, created by a British businessman named William Trist Bailey. Today, there are streets named Trist Place and Bailey Court within Bayswater, which is the neighborhood of Far Rockaway north/west of the Rockaway Freeway. In the past, the grounds of Bayswater Point State Park have been the site of a children’s hospital and then an Audubon sanctuary. Now it is basically wilderness -- fields, shorefront, etc. A true “hidden gem” and a great spot for fishing and bird watching and maybe meditating!

Bayswater Point State Park’s varied terrain includes beachfront, wetlands and woodlands. This diversity helps make it a prime habitat for migrating and nesting birds. The State Parks department aims to preserve the existing natural systems and, as feasible, restore what has been lost. The park is ideal for so-called passive recreation, such as hiking, fishing, bird watching, picnicking and nature appreciation.

I look forward to going to the parks and beaches of New York City again, and being able to relax and enjoy them without worrying about keeping 6 feet away from others and wearing a face mask. It will be nice to experience the peaceful OUTDOORS instead of the peaceful indoors! Interestingly (for this age of social distancing), Bayswater Point State Park has tended to attract people involved in solitary pursuits -- a fisherman here, a nature walker there, for example.

(added April 2020)


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