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Paerdegat Basin

By Dan Brenner

Posted on May 15, 2019

Ralph Irving Lloyd, Paerdegat [Basin], circa 1910, lantern slide, v1981.15.144; Brooklyn Historical Society.

The saltwater wetland known as Paerdegat Basin is nestled between the southern Brooklyn neighborhoods of Canarsie and Georgetown. The word Paerdegat derives from the Dutch meaning “horse gate”, but over the years the basin was also known by other names including Bestevaar Kill, Bedford Creek, and Paerdegat Creek.

In the early 1900s, this area seemed quite solitary and pleasant, which you can get a sense of from the above image. The trees surrounding the basin were part of Brooklyn’s last remaining natural forest, which was regrettably destroyed in 1940 coinciding with the opening of Long Island’s Belt Parkway, which runs through the basin’s entrance.

As a result of the expanding commercial and industrial interests for New York City, plans to transform Jamaica Bay into a port began with a $300,000 appropriation from Congress, along with investments from the City of New York, and various private companies. Paerdegat Basin became part of that development and dredging of the area began in 1912.

Despite investments over the years, the seaport never became a reality. Instead, in 1949 the New York City Board of Estimate approved plans for a park, thus ending the almost half-century long plan to build a seaport in Jamaica Bay.

Paerdegat Basin Park now runs alongside the Georgetown neighborhood side of the water. You can hike along the 0.3 mile Red Loop Trail where you can still find that sense of solitude and peace much like Ralph Irving Lloyd had found when he took this photograph.

This image comes from the Ralph Irving Lloyd lantern slides (v1981.015). For more information please see our finding aid here and for more photographs of Ralph Irving Lloyd’s lantern slides, please visit our image gallery here.

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our Brooklyn Visual Heritage website here. To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections; visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m. [email protected].

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