3. Staten Island Greenbelt
As its name implies, the Greenbelt is a 2,800 acre network of connected parks and trails that form a massive belt around the middle of Staten Island. After the opening of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in 1964, Staten Island residents and nature lovers feared that the borough’s wetlands and forests would soon be lost to developers (Their fears were not unfounded, as Robert Moses had planned to extend Richmond Parkway right through the site of today’s High Rock Park). After 20 years of negotiations, the Greenbelt was finally designated parkland in 1983.
Ironically, the Greenbelt’s Moses’ Mountain is named after the Parks Commissioner who opposed the park’s existence. The 260-foot mound of rock and soil was made from a section of road cut from the Staten Island Expressway that was originally intended to be used to construct Richmond Parkway. Since Richmond Parkway was not extended, the unused mound has gradually become overtaken with grasses, trees, and wildlife. Places to visit in the Greenbelt in addition to the trails and parks include a Nature Center, a carousel, a golf course, and a recreation center.