Prospect Park may be the most famous park in Brooklyn, but it’s Marine Park that holds the honor of being the borough’s largest. The north section is home to a large grassy field and the park’s beloved basketball courts (where a young Chuck Schumer was a regular), while to the east is a golf course. But the biggest section of this city park is actually its salt marsh, a 530-acre nature preserve.
The Salt Marsh Nature Center consists of two hiking trails that wind through acres upon acres of wetlands and grasslands. The marsh is home to roughly 325 species of birds like warblers, sparrows, and pheasants; 50 species of butterflies; and 100 species of fish. There’s even a platform where you can see two mated ospreys who have nested there for several years (osprey mate for life).
Just behind the nature center at the north of the marsh, you’ll see a set of wood pilings. These are the remnants of the first tide-powered mill in the U.S., which was used to grind corn, grain, and flour for General George Washington’s army during the American Revolution, and later by the Hessians when the British captured Brooklyn. The mill operated until 1889 when it was sold to William Whitney, who used the land to build a country estate for his racehorses. It was later donated to the city, and in 1932 renovations began, starting with the walls and foundations. Unfortunately, the historic mill burned down in 1935 after the exterior was restored, a possible victim of arson.