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Annual Benefit Gala

April 15, 2013

This year, the Harbor Conservancy celebrates George Washington's inauguration at Federal Hall. The annual benefit dinner features Kenneth Jackson, editor of The Encyclopedia of New York City, as keynote speaker and a Thomas Jefferson-inspired dinner menu.

The festivities will take place under Federal Hall's famed dome on April 30th, 224 years to the day after George Washington was inaugurated at the site. For those who love all things New York, it should be a night to remember.

Invitation Here's your invitation. Tickets are available to the public but space is limited so call (212) 668-2776 to reserve your tickets soon.

Recovering from Hurricane Sandy

November 21, 2012

Fort Tilden
Examining debris at Fort Tilden

President Obama at Miller Field
President Obama arriving at Miller Field

Jacob Riis Park
Jacob Riis bathhouse without doors

Statue of Liberty
Broken paving at the Statue of Liberty

Ellis Island
Rubble in Ellis Island ferry building

Sandy Hook
Damaged trail at Sandy Hook

St. Paul's Church Tree clearing at St. Paul's Church

At the National Parks of New York Harbor we are beginning the slow recovery process from the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. The good news is that over the last week some parks have reopened to the public with varying degrees of access and service. However, many sites are still closed and in some cases it will take months before they reopen. From Castle Clinton in Battery Park to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, from Governors Island to Gateway National Recreation Area, which includes Jacob Riis Park, Fort Tilden, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Floyd Bennett Field, Miller Field, Great Kills Park and Sandy Hook, the rebuilding process will be long.

After the storm, we returned to our offices at Federal Hall on Wall Street after a two-week shutdown to a still recovering Lower Manhattan. We continue to work without landlines and very little internet access. However, we are among the lucky.

During Sandy, over one hundred of our park employees who live with families in and around the sites were evacuated losing most of what they own. On Staten Island, one park employee had to swim out of his window to escape his house filling with water. He was found a few days later in a shelter. At Sandy Hook, 14 families were also evacuated from badly damaged park residences. We have been told that the number of park employees affected by Hurricane Sandy is ten times the number affected by Hurricane Katrina.

The federal response to the disaster has been massive. President Obama visited Miller Field in Staten Island on Thursday 15, to survey the damage and speak with some of those most affected by the storm. In addition to FEMA and other emergency agencies, over 500 employees from 113 National Park Service units across 40 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia are working to get the national parks open. This is the largest emergency response team ever put together by the National Park Service.

Many people have reached out to us in the hopes of volunteering during the clean-up and we are grateful for the aid. There is an organized effort at Gateway National Recreation Area and anyone who can spare the time should call 718-354-4657 or email

There is also another way you can help. Annually, through private contributions we provide funds to our national parks for programs not covered by government dollars. The priority of the National Park Service for some time will be the welfare of their employees and repairing and restoring infrastructure for the public. Therefore, we ask that you consider making a donation to us at this critical time, so that we can restore public programs to the parks as soon as they reopen.

Here is the latest news on the sites.

  • Many areas of Gateway National Recreation Area remain closed to visitors. There is some good news however, as Great Kills Park and Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge will reopen on Friday 23rd.

    On Staten Island, Fort Wadsworth is the Command Center Operation for the National Park Service Incident Management Team of over 500 people. The Great Kills Park beach center, small boat launch for local fisherman and a National Park Service marina concession were badly damaged. At Miller Field acres of turf and lawn that provided baseball, football, and soccer playing fields for thousands of residents were decimated. Miller Field, is now a community distribution center for food, water and clothing.

    In Queens and Brooklyn, Floyd Bennett Field remains a staging area for FEMA and other emergency response service personnel and cleanup crews. Infrastructure at Jacob Riis Park and Fort Tilden, were badly damaged including two docks that went missing from Riis landing and the Jacob Riis Bathhouse which was overrun by the storm surge. The beaches and dunes also suffered massive erosion.

    In Sandy Hook New Jersey there was major damage to the houses on historic Officer's Row, the multi-use trails, roads and beaches.
  • The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island remain closed to visitors. The two islands suffered significant damage to their seawalls, docks and other infrastructure. They also remain without power. It will be months before we know the total cost and time it will take to repair and reopen to visitors. Our two retail stores on the islands were also damaged. There is, however, always a light on the harbor. Musco Lighting has illuminated Lady Liberty, the beacon of hope for generations of visitors. With funds donated to the National Park Foundation, the lighting will remain in place indefinitely.
  • Most of our Manhattan sites—the African Burial Ground, Federal Hall National Memorial, General Grant National Memorial, St. Paul's Church and Hamilton Grange—have reopened to the public with normal seasonal hours.

    However, Castle Clinton remains closed to visitors. During the storm, over six feet of water damaged the electrical systems. It is from here that we operate our harbor tours in partnership with City Sightseeing Cruises.
  • Governors Island is closed for the season.

For regular updates on the cleanup and for news on the reopening of the parks follow Gateway National Recreation Area on Facebook.

Secretary Salazar and Mayor Bloomberg Sign Cooperative Management Agreement for Jamaica Bay parks

July 17, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg and Secretary Salazar sign agreement On Tuesday, July 17, at City Hall, Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar and Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed an agreement between the National Park Service and the City of New York to cooperatively manage the 10,000 acres of parklands under their jurisdiction in and around Jamaica Bay, part of Gateway National Recreation Area.

The goals of the agreement are to promote visitation, educational programs, scientific research and recreational opportunities. The agreement also calls for the establishment of a task force to form a private philanthropic group to support the parks.

The City and National Park Service also jointly released a request for expressions of interests to academic institutions for the formation of a science center.

At the announcement the Mayor and Secretary were joined by Peter Madonia, Chief Operating Officer of the Rockefeller Foundation, which has committed $1.5 million toward the establishment of a center at Jamaica Bay for the study of the resilience of coastal environments, and Director of the National Park Service Jon Jarvis, who announced the release of draft alternatives for the Gateway General Management Plan developed closely with the city.

In his remarks Mayor Bloomberg thanked Marian Heiskell, Chair of the Harbor Conservancy's Board and a catalyst for the partnership, for her "leadership and support." Mrs. Heiskell said, "This is an enormously positive development in our shared dream to realize Gateway's enormous potential for all New Yorkers."

View New York Times article on the announcement.

Partners in Preservation Announces Popular Vote Winners

May 22, 2012

The winners of the popular vote in the Partners in Preservation contest announced today are the Brooklyn Public Library, who received 9% of the popular vote and has been awarded $250,000 to restore the main entrance doors; Congregation Beth Elohim, who received 8% of the popular vote and receives $250,000 to restore the building's stained glass windows; New York Botanical Gardens, who received 7% of the popular vote and has been awarded $250,000 to restore a rock garden; and Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, who received 7% of the popular vote and receives $155,000 to restore areas within the museum's gardens.

The Partners in Preservation Advisory Committee, comprised of community and preservation leaders, will award the remainder of the $2.1 million in grants to other competing sites including the statue of George Washington at Federal Hall in June.

Jamaica Bay Osprey Banded!

May 1, 2012

Banding the osprey The Harbor Conservancy and National Park Service successfully captured and banded an adult male osprey with a GPS tracking device today in order to more closely follow this captivating bird's hunting trips and migrations. Dr. Bob Kennedy joined Park Rangers, Harbor Conservancy staff, board director and funder Coleman Burke and volunteers at the Wildlife Refuge's south marsh to capture the bird and fit him with a 30 gram, solar-powered "backpack" satellite transmitter. Despite the drizzle, the project went smoothly and the birds were great sports.

Sign up for our Jamaica Bay Osprey newsletter to get updates on the bird's journey and learn when our new dedicated osprey website launches.

Osprey nesting siteBanders with the birdOsprey in flight

George Washington Hits the Campaign Trail in New York City

April 26, 2012

George on the campaign trail George Washington, the only President of the United States elected unanimously, needs your vote now. He hit the campaign trail today in New York City to rally popular support in a Partners in Preservation grant competition. He's competing for a $175,000 grant to restore his iconic bronze statue, a 12-foot towering figure presiding over Lower Manhattan from a pedestal at Federal Hall National Memorial. View the full release.

New York Times editorial urges Mayor to fight for Jamaica Bay project

November 6, 2011

Jamaica Bay was the subject of an editorial in today's New York Times, where the Mayor was urged to fight for the project in 'tough economic times'. The Harbor Conservancy's role as a champion for the bay was also cited.

Secretary Salazar and Mayor Bloomberg sign Jamaica Bay Agreement

October 27, 2011

Today at the Marine Park Nature Center in Brooklyn, Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, announced the signing of a new agreement between the National Park Service (NPS) and the City of New York, that commits both entities to a joint planning process focused on four key areas—effective management through collaboration, science and restoration, access and transportation and youth and education—for the 7,000 acres of federal and 3,000 acres of city administered park lands in south Brooklyn and Queens.

The Harbor Conservancy is a key partner in the process and in attendance was our Chairman Marian Heiskell who was delighted by the agreement. "It's so encouraging that the National Park Service, City of New York and Harbor Conservancy are endeavoring on this new partnership as it has been my passion for nearly 40 years," she said. "I believe that Gateway can be the envy of America's great national urban park system, and now both the Mayor and Secretary Salazar stand ready to help us achieve its greatness."

View the full release from the City of New York.

Secretary Salazar and Mayor Bloomberg announce partnership on new urban park initiative

February 17, 2011

Today, in Central Park—undoubtedly one of New York City's "Best Ideas"—Secretary Salazar and Mayor Bloomberg pledged to work together on a new Presidential initiative for urban park areas, called America's Great Outdoors. The announcement followed an official report issued this week by President Obama that was the culmination of a nationwide, year-long listening session and study on the initiative.

Director Jarvis, Mayor Bloomberg, and Secretary Salazar

America's Great Outdoors is aimed at protecting public lands, boosting conservation and encouraging outdoor recreation. Standing with the Secretary and Mayor, was the Director of the National Park Service, Jon Jarvis whose agency oversees over 390 parks, historic sites and recreation areas across America.

New York City, with its dense and diverse population and abundance of state, local and national parks, was strategically chosen to begin this national rollout.

"New Yorkers feel a strong sense of pride for our parks…," said Mayor Bloomberg. "We're home to over 29,000 acres of parkland. Parks represent an oasis in the city and even in tough economic times, we recognize how important they are."

Secretary Salazar in his speech explained how a partnership among the city, the state, the National Park Service and other federal agencies and non-profit partners—naming in particular, the Harbor Conservancy—will result in an expanded system of urban parks, greenways, and blueways throughout the metro area.

"The President is spotlighting great urban national parks," he said, "and there is no better place to talk about that than in New York City." Beginning in 2010, the Secretary had challenged the National Parks of New York Harbor [NPNH] and the Harbor Conservancy, to recommend ideas on how to make NPNH a model for sites across the country. He shared two preliminary ideas borne from that challenge. They included, creating the largest urban campground at Floyd Bennett Field and creating a center for urban ecology at Jamaica Bay, in partnership with New York City, State and regional universities.

In the upcoming months, the Secretary has been invited back to the city by the Mayor to move this partnership and its initiatives forward.

Learn more about America's Great Outdoors.

Secretary Salazar and Mayor Bloomberg

Feast on Ellis Island

November 5, 2010

"Why did anyone want to leave Ellis Island if the food was this good?"

Last night 350 friends, supporters and guests joined us for One Big Table. The event celebrated immigrant food both past and present. Despite the rain, the group sailed to Ellis Island and dined in the historic Great Hall, enjoying food prepared from Molly O'Neill's new book, One Big Table. Pace musical theater students hushed the group with a performance of "Songs for a New World" after which we were treated to a panel discussion about food, immigration, and New York's vast diversity of cultures. There's no better place in America to celebrate our unique heritage—culinary and otherwise—than Ellis Island.

Thanks to all that made the night a success.

New York Post

NY Post previews One Big Table Ellis Island event

October 28, 2010

Read the full-page New York Post article on our November 4th One Big Table dinner and panel discussion on Ellis Island, featuring food writer Molly O'Neill.

WOR spotlights One Big Table on Valerie's New York

October 28, 2010

WOR's Valerie Smaldone interviews president Marie Salerno about One Big Table and our harbor parks. Listen to the audio.


The National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy is a public-private partnership with the National Parks of New York Harbor and sanctioned as its primary partner under a U.S. Department of the Interior General Agreement.