Baisley Pond Park
Baisley Pond Park, named after farmer David Baisley, owned the land in the early and mid-nineteenth century, operating a grain mill near the pond that was created a century before as a source for power. The Baisleys lived there until the death of David’s wife Sarah in 1878 (note: the family is buried in Prospect Cemetery.)
The land was sold before David’s death in 1875 to the Williamsburg Water Works Company for $26,000 to be used a water source for Brooklyn. New York City transferred the northern part of the park to the NYC Parks Department in 1914, and five years later it opened to the public. Today, the park is a gem of Jamaica where people can come enjoy the abundant nature, jog, bike ride, and lounge on the lush grass in the cool shade, and can play tennis or handball among other activities.
A fun fact about the park: the remains of an American mastodon were found on the grounds in 1800. A statue was erected to symbolize the discovery and stands in Sutphin Playground to this day.
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is the only wildlife refuge of the United States Department of the Interior administered by the National Park Service. All other national wildlife refuges are under the supervision of United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is 9,000 acres of saltmarsh, open bay, mudflats, upland field and wood, two man-made brackish ponds, and small fresh water ponds. Located on the Jamaica Bay, the wildlife is abundant and is one of the best places in New York City to observe migrating species with 332 bird species sighted over the last 25 years. The best times to visit are during the Spring and Fall Migrations where you can watch birds like the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron and the American Woodcock as well as several others.