2. Sand from the Belt Parkway Excavation Became a Man-Made Island

Mau Mau Island

Mau Mau Island, also referred to as White Island, is a small uninhabited Brooklyn island between Gerritsen Creek and Mill Creek. A mill and bridge were built in the area in the late 1700s, and it was donated to the city in the early 1930s as parkland. The island, though, did not come into existence until 1917. The man-made landmass expanded in 1934 during the construction of the Belt Parkway when sand from the excavation was added to the island. Much of the sand was covered in asphalt to protect golfers in Marine Park from the chance that it would blow away in the wind.

In 2011, the Parks Department began a restoration project on the island to restore the original salt marsh and bird habitat. That same year, a small artists’ collective known as Swimming Cities first hosted a naval battle for the island. From names like Notorious G.I.G. to S.S. Botulism, the “gangs” were required to provide some type of seafaring vessel, many of which were improvised from reclaimed materials. The battle featured boat jousting and a circumnavigational row-powered race around the island.