Did You Know Brooklyn Is Home to Two Uninhabited Islands?

Mau Mau Island. Photo from GerritsenBeach.net via Untapped Cities


In 2016, in a city as densely populated as New York, the existence of an uninhabited island is even more surprising than a Park Slope brownstone selling for under $1 million.

Yet, two lonely islands exist in Brooklyn alone: Mau Mau Island and Canarsie Pol.

brooklyn islands

Canarsie Pol in September 2010. Photo via Outerspacecities

A sliver of land sandwiched by Gerritsen and Mill creeks, Mau Mau Island (also called White Island) was born of the trash dumped into its former salt marsh in 1917. Carpeted by sand excavated during the construction of the Belt Parkway in the 1930s, the island is a bird sanctuary and, in recent years, the location of a series of aquatic DIY hipster “battles”.

In the summer, the Parks Department often offers free birding-by-canoe expeditions to Mau Mau.

As for Canarsie Pol, it is the only one of Jamaica Bay’s numerous uninhabited islands to be located within Brooklyn’s borders. The 300-acre irregular-oval-shaped island is a part of Gateway National Recreation Area, and thus protected land. In 2012, blogger Geoffrey Croft reported the remains of a human female to have been discovered on the island.


A rowboat off Canarsie Pol’s Northeastern point in November 2009. Photo by Sally Paul via Tide and Current Taxi

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