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Friday, July 3, 2015

Bath Beach Park and Shore Parkway Greenway

Bath Beach Park, also known as Bath Beach Playground, is a utilitarian space at the seaside edge of Brooklyn's quiet Bath Beach neighborhood. A walkway through the park ending at a curved wall is named for Joseph L. Pezzuto, a local community activist who had a major hand in the livelihood of this park and the whole Bath Beach neighborhood through a big chunk of the 20th century.

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Atop the wall is a raised platform with benches.

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Visiting on a warm weekday afternoon in early summer, I encountered a whole lot of not very much, just a scattering of children and their caretakers. From some angles it was easy to imagine I was in an episode of Life After People. The dusty softball field looked like a desert, the bocce courts and chess tables just as empty.

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It was only the middle of the afternoon, so there wasn't too much going on in the playground itself either.

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But at the back of the playground a strange gate beckoned. Why was it open? Where did the path lead?

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I had to investigate, so, keeping an eye out for poison ivy and goblins, I followed the trail around the corner of the playground…

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…and to the end. Where I found, not to my surprise, nothing.

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Behind the handball courts is another unused grassy area. It all seemed to add up to something strange about Bath Beach Park. In college at NYU, Joseph L. Pezzuto was a member of the Rho Epsilon real estate fraternity – did you know there was a real estate fraternity? I sure didn't – but he died in 1999, so I can't ask him about Bath Beach Park's weird extraneous real estate.

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Just across Shore Parkway a pedestrian bridge leads to the long bike path running alongside the Belt Parkway and the edge of Gravesend Bay, the Shore Parkway Greenway.

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Looking west you can see the Verrazano Bridge, which upon its completion in 1964 became the longest suspension bridge in the world, a distinction it held for some time. In that great age of accomplishment, the U.S. could boast many firsts, bests, and biggests.

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This pair made a nice silhouette against the span.

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And with them, we bid farewell to Bath Beach, that former fashionable retreat, and, at least for now, to the Shore Parkway Greenway.

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