24th Day in Rockaway: Checking out Breezy
"Breezy" is a term used to describe an area at the very western tip of the peninsula. While Breezy Point is technically a place, the larger connotation of "Breezy" is that of a private community that has historically existed in this area since formed in the 1960s.
The Breezy Point Cooperative owns 500 acres of land known as both exclusive and uncharacteristically safe for New York City ("the last place you can let your kids run around in the streets" one resident told me.) Breezy has it's own medical services, fire stations and police force. Public transit is unavailable in the area as are any public facilities (from bathrooms to parking).
What's interesting about this area is not just how large the private cooperative is, but also it's relationship with the federal government: as most of Breezy borders National Parks land with the neighborhood of Roxbury being an "inholding" of Gateway (private land within a public land tract).
200-acres of land on Breezy Point actually belong to National Park Service and are distinguished by coastal grasslands, marshes, and a very active bird population (including some threatened species). The tension between the private and public land has been going on for decades and reaches everything from what's allowed to be developed to federal funding for the area to where residents are allowed to park.
Though residents may not want you to know this - the public is allowed in areas of Breezy Point because it's part of Gateway National Park. I went to check it out and found more beach the distinguishing factors being: quieter, cleaner, full of birds.
The adventure was in figuring out how to get in:
How to Access Breezy Point:
This is how I made my way into Breezy Point, walking along the beach which is (as far as I know) perfectly legal because the beach property is part of the Gateway National Park system. Take the bus to Jacob Riis (Q35, Q22) and then be prepared for a few miles of sandy wandering as you pass by Fort Tilden and then head to the the tip.
One of the main reasons that Breezy Point is so "off limits" is because not only is there no public transit but if you drive, there is no public parking. There are two "loopholes" here that will allow you to drive closer than Jacob Riis.
- Fishermans Parking Lots: At Fort Tilden, West Beach and 222nd Street there are public parking lots managed by Gateway National Park that are accessible if you buy a fishing permit
- Breezy Point Grocery Store: this is an unconfirmed tip but supposedly since the main road that runs through Breezy is open to the public you can drive to the grocery store and find parking there. I would be careful about leaving my car there for too long though because if people notice you don't have a Breezy sticker... you'll likely be towed.
Bike in, wave hello! (Though, the official bike lane technically ends at the entrance of Breezy Point) same rules apply in terms of access as driving.
By Sarah Knapp as part of 30 Days in the Rockaways.