An Appreciation for Shirley Chisholm State Park

Rockaway, New York, November 29th, Somehow Still 2020

Today forgot to be winter, blue skies and warm sunlight found us here on the edge of USA.  We took a 25 minute drive to Shirley Chisholm State Park in Brooklyn this morning. I’m still foreign sometimes and there are many gaps in my local and national history. I learned that Shirley Chisholm was the first woman and African American to run for President. She was also the first African American Congresswoman.

This 407 acre park is built on what was a landfill (1956-1983). In our age of instant gratification and especially short sighted politics, I find it inspirational to think of the patient and optimistic vision it must have taken to make this park happen.


“More than 1.2 million cubic yards of clean soil – or enough to fill nearly 100,000 dump trucks – was spread up to four feet deep across the site. The site was then planted with more than 35,000 trees and shrubs, and native grassland species. This addition of prairie grass and native plants has created a diverse ecosystem of coastal meadows, wetlands, and woodlands that has attracted a variety of birds and other local wildlife. In addition, this lovely ecosystem works to protect the capped land and prevent erosion.”

from Official Website.

I’ve always had an immense appreciation for city parks and those who created them. In my mind New York City would be unlivable without its parks. I remember first reading about the creation of Central Park and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and realizing they didn’t just happen by accident or because the builders got tired and forgot to fill those green spaces.  In my younger days, certainly,  I never fully considered the planning behind these “natural wonders”. I think this morning was the first time I have seen such a young park. It was beautiful to see the saplings and grasses become established and imagine how this park will grow in my own child’s lifetime, and in the lifetimes of the generations that follow her.

The park is open from 8am to dusk and there is free parking onsite.

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