3. Plumb Beach is a hidden beach along Belt Parkway
Plumb Beach is a hidden beach near the Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach neighborhoods of Brooklyn. You pull off the Belt Parkway on an unmarked exit. The only thing that denotes the beach’s existence is a stylish vendor kiosk with the words PLUMBEACH wrapping it. The small beach attracts kiteboarding enthusiasts due to a southerly sea breeze. Despite heavy beach erosion, the beach is also a habitat for horseshoe crabs every May and June. Now part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, it was originally a separate island until the nearby Hog Creek was filled in with the creation of the Belt Parkway.
The beach’s name perhaps derives from when sailors stopped on the island and munched on native beach plums. Plumb Beach was a popular destination around the turn of the 20th century when a ferry connected it to Sheepshead Bay, Barren Island and Breezy Point. But even before the ferry, the federal government purchased part of the island to use as a mortar battery. Although the island could not sustain the battery, Judge Winfield S. Overton became the island’s “czar” to regain the government’s initial investment, Overton’s five-year lease of the island was cut short after holding “carnivals” with boxing matches, which at the time were illegal. The island was occupied by squatters for a few decades, but they were forced to leave during the construction of the Belt Parkway.