History of Brooklyn’s Barren Island revealed

March 8, 2021 Theodore W. General
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Author and local historian Miriam Sicherman was the guest speaker at the February meeting of the Bay Ridge Historical Society. During her presentation she described Barren Island, which previously existed on the southeast shore of Brooklyn in Jamaica Bay and was situated between the  mainline of Brooklyn and the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens. However, it disappeared as an island when the city co-opted it and had it landfilled to build the Floyd Bennett Airfield, first as a municipal airport and then as the U.S. Naval Air Station.

Bay Ridge Historical Society President Thomas McCarthy, who hosted the public session via Zoom, was very happy with the response and said, “We were pleased to have Miriam Sicherman join us for a presentation and discussion on her book, ‘Brooklyn’s Barren Island: A Forgotten History,’ about ‘a swampy speck in Jamaica Bay where a motley group of new immigrants and African-Americans quietly processed mountains of garbage and dead animals starting in the 1850s … until their eviction by Robert Moses, in the name of progress, in 1936.’ Today it’s part of Floyd Bennett Field and part of Gateway National Park. The presentation was very informative and well received.  Feedback from participants was universally positive.”

Society First Vice President Henry Stewart said the guest speaker at the next meeting will be Joshua B. Freeman, author of “History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World.” The meeting will take place March 24 at 7:30 p.m. For additional society information, visit BayRidgeHistory.com or the society Facebook pages, where you can view historical photos of the Bay Ridge area.

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We strongly agree with Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon, who is against a proposal to shift accident investigations from the NYPD to the Department of Transportation. 


Good news: Arlene Bakke Rutuelo, chair of the Norwegian-American 17th of May Parade of Greater New York, advised us that while the Norwegian Immigration Association has dropped sponsorship of the Miss Norway NY Pageant, the Parade Committee organization will be the prime sponsor of the 2022 contest and the parade.

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