bottle beach, brooklyn

before i lose all my respectable person cred by posting pictures of belize, i wanted to show you this:

there are beaches in brooklyn too. although instead of having white sand and swim up bars they have trash and horse bones. wait wait- it is not just regular trash; it's antique trash! old bottles, shoe leather, and newspapers from the 1930's and 40's. and actually, you can find huge conch shells too.

informally known as bottle beach, this stretch of bay near floyd bennett field is actually (romantically!) called dead horse bay. apparently, what is now floyd bennett field used to be a much smaller island called barren island which NYC used for landfills and horse rendering (read: hooves made into jello). over time, the municipal government expanded this area of land for use as an airfield, and closed up all the landfills. due to erosion in the last 25 years, parts of the landfills have been exposed and tidal currents carry the trash ashore at dead horse bay. because the trash is "washed" and bouyed by the seawater, it often washes ashore cleaned and intact. amazingly, you can find thick glass bottles from the 50's that held even the most mundane things: clorox, asprin, ink.

on a foggy morning in winter, beach combing almost alone, picking up all variety of treasure, i felt almost as happy and relaxed as i did in belize. almost.

to get to bottle beach: take flatbush ave. all the way to floyd bennett field. when you pass the abandoned hanger, you will take a left at the next stop light if you are in a bike. if you are in a car, you will take a right. there is a parking lot and a bus stop. you will know it is the right place if you can see the toll entrance to the bridge from here. if not, keep going. park your car at the parking lot and walk across the road to where a tiny path emerges from the woods. if you're in a bike, taking that left should have led you right to the path. follow the path until you come to a fork with three options- you're going to want to take the rightmost option. you'll walk about 5 mins. until you get to high dunes at which point you're steps away. i know it sounds totally sketchy and borderline ridiculous, but trust me it is the best way.

what you'll find: the trail dumps you out in what seems like the middle of the beach, but if you walk way far out to your left you'll find the beach hooks back around. at the back inlet, you'll find old shoes, lots of rusty iron, some avant-garde driftwood and huge bright orange shells dyed by leather. over the left side you'll find larger bottles and newer garbage- i think some people use this as a current dump too?

note: it feels so foreign to talk about this in brooklyn, but make sure to check the tidal predictions. going at low tide is ideal.
Shelley said...

Thanks for this post! Had heard of this, but didn't know how to get there until I found your directions. Many thanks - we had a fun time out there!

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