New York City required a municipal airport and several locations for it came up for discussion. The mayor of the time, Fiorello LaGuardia, wanted it placed on Governor's Island. Despite this, the site chosen was Barren Island.
The location for the field was accepted because of the lack of any surrounding obstructions, but it was still insufficient as it was. Six million cubic yards of sand were pumped from the bottom of Jamaica Bay to join Barren Island and a few smaller islands together to make up the required land space. Concrete runways were laid, and electrical lighting installed along them making this one of the most modern, high-quality, airports of its day.
Mayor LaGuardia wanted Floyd Bennett Field to replace the airport at Newark, NJ. New airlines were already gathering at Newark as ground transportation was easier to facilitate from this location, as were airmail contracts, the real revenue-getter of the day. In response, flying boats were arranged to shuttle passengers from Floyd Bennett to Manhattan. Despite this, he was only able to convince one airline, American Airlines, to move.
Despite this failure as a commercial airport, however, Floyd Bennett Field would attract some super stars of the golden era of aviation including Wiley Post who flew two record-breaking round-the-world flights from here. Amelia Earhart broke records at this field. Even Howard Hughes flew his famous around-the-world in 91 hours trip from Floyd Bennett field.
The US Navy took an interest in the field and with the start of World War II, opened NAS New York. In addition, the NYPD and US Coast Guard would also begin operations from this location. Today, much of the land is a National Park and even features camping. The NYPD continues to fly helicopters from the former Coast Guard hanger.
At first glance, I wasn't completely sure what this place was, or its current level of activity. I drove in past the gates and began to look around, realizing quickly that the road I was on was once a runway. As I continued to drive about, it became apparent that this was a fascinating place to check out.
The weather was extremely hot that day, and I was pressed for time to get to another place on my list, so I didn't check it out as thoroughly as I'd like, but I will be back.