The Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge connects New York to the Rockaway Peninsula, providing a reprieve from city life and a taste of a more laid-back, beach lifestyle. The bridge, which opened in 1937, spans over the Jamaica Bay estuary from Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field to Jacob Riis Park in the southwest portion of the Rockaway Peninsula. This functional, yet aesthetic bridge has surprising connections to falcons, baseball, poetry, and an aviation tragedy. Here are our top 10 Secrets of the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge. 

1. The Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge’s Towers are home to endangered Peregrine falcons

Tillie, a peregrine falcon chick, and his mother falcon
Tillie, a newly hatched Peregrine Falcon chick, sits under watch of his mother. Image courtesy of MTA by Marc A. Herman.

This June, Tillie, a Peregrine falcon chick, hatched on one of the bridge’s towers in a nesting box monitored by scientists from New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Peregrine falcons, the fastest animals in the world, are listed as endangered birds by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. From the 1950s to the 1970s, Peregrine falcons populations plummeted due to poisoning caused by DDT, an insecticide used in agriculture. 

Tillie’s safe hatching was possible thanks to the involvement of MTA Bridges and Tunnels in the state nesting program, which provides nesting boxes to all MTA bridges in an effort to support endangered falcons. The boxes atop bridges provide not only an enviable view of the New York City skyline for the birds but make prey, like pigeons, more accessible. Tillie was banded on June 15, 2022 to help scientists identify the bird throughout its life.