View Full Version : Mill Rock Island

September 6th, 2003, 09:20 PM
September 7, 2003


Park in the River


Q. There is a tiny island in the East River identified in atlases as Mill Rock Park. Although I look at the island each day from my apartment window, I've never seen anyone set foot on it. Can it be used as a park, say, for a picnic?

A. Mill Rock Island, all two and a half acres of it, sits in the East River, off 96th Street. It was once two separate islands (Great Mill Rock and Little Mill Rock), bought from local Indians by a settler named William Hallet in 1664. Historians believe that a mill was built on one of the islands between 1701 and 1707, which may account for the name.

Seldom inhabited, the islands held great allure for the military, starting in the War of 1812, when a blockhouse was erected on Great Mill Rock as part of the defense of New York Harbor. In the late 1800's, the Army Corps of Engineers established facilities on the islands for the preparation of explosives, which would be used to clear obstacles in the East River.

In 1890, debris from one such blast was used to fill in the gap between Great Mill and Little Mill Rocks, producing the single island you see today. The island was acquired by the city's Parks Department in 1953, its buildings demolished and trees planted.

Though the island was used for cultural events through the 1960's, it has since been allowed to return to its natural state. If you were to take a boat to the island, you would not be permitted to debark, for Mill Rock Island is no longer open to the public. You already possess the one thing needed to enjoy this floating dab of green: a window.

E-mail: fyi@nytimes.com

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

September 6th, 2003, 09:57 PM
Is this the one with a small radio/transmission structure on it?

September 23rd, 2003, 08:14 PM
http://www.forgotten-ny.com/STREET%20SCENES/fromwater/water.html (Scroll down.)

June 5th, 2006, 10:22 PM
Roughly 20 years or so ago I canoed from Battery Park north to Spuyten Divel, and we stopped at this island to have lunch and a bottle of wine. There were two canoes, and the first boat to approach the island spotted numerous large rats on the rocks surrounding the island. We didn't explore much, as it seemed pretty desolate, covered with tall grass, and inexplicably, a worn old wooden picnic table. The crew from the first boat, seeing the rats (which, coming in the second boat I did not see - they apparently made themselves scarce by then) on their arrival, sat on the top of the picnic table and refused to sit with their feet down.


June 5th, 2006, 11:21 PM
Roughly 20 years or so ago I canoed from Battery Park north to Spuyten Divel, and we stopped at this island to have lunch and a bottle of wine.

This is a popular spot for nyc kayakers. I would go there by kayak anytime
- but a canoe - thats another story. :eek: :eek: :eek:


June 6th, 2006, 10:16 PM
More on the blasting of Flood Rock here (http://www.nan.usace.army.mil/whoweare/hellgate.pdf)

June 6th, 2006, 10:30 PM
More on the blasting of Flood Rock

Good article: thanks Jaonik:)

Excerpts from article linked below:
Captains of vessels traversing this perilous one-
mile passage of the East River described it in logs
dating back to the early 1700ís, as a key gateway
to the Atlantic, marked with a giant whirlpool,
punctuated with rocks,
reefs, and islands. To a sea
captain worth his salt, it
must have appeared as
the gate to Hell.

Strong cross currents combined with shallow rocky
waters earned Hell Gate itís name and reputation
for being a navigatorís nightmare.