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Plum Beach

- kc - Tuesday, June 14th, 2005 : goo

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Plum Beach is a grimy spit of sand that is just past Sheepshead Bay and part of Gateway National Park. It's beautiful and filthy and therefore gloriously neglected, unkempt and various. It appears to attract people of all races and creeds. It's entered via a parking area that is just off the Belt Parkway, a major highway. A lot seems to go on in this parking lot; it's the kind of place where people might meet for illicit affairs. There are also liaisons in the dunes. I've heard there are poachers of the local sealife. I've seen people performing religious rites, tossing flowers and fruits into the water. Fishermen also come to stand in the water. Boats and garbage wash up on a shore that is littered with broken shells. In May and June, at the new and full moons, throngs of horseshoe crabs gather to mate. It's a risky business--the females arrive to lay their eggs at high tide, and the males swarm around them, frantically maneuvering to hitch to a female's shell and inseminate her eggs when she buries herself in the sand and releases them. The breaking waves often overturn these crabs, leaving them waving their legs and tails helplessly in the air. Some never right themselves, and as the water recedes their carcasses dry slowly in the sand. When I was a kid I was afraid of them, since they were big and brown and insectlike and usually dead, but I've come to love the whole ritual.
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This article has been viewed 54714 times in the last 11 years

elaine: 14th Jun 2005 - 06:09 GMT

i've never seen crabs like these. i could do with an affair right now, illicit or otherwise, perhaps i will go there and lay my eggs in the sand

Jamie: What a thought. i feel faintly ill

elaine: 14th Jun 2005 - 09:01 GMT

pthpthpthpthpthpthpthpthpthpth, to you. i am, after all a cancerian and it is my birthday soon. i will lay eggs in the sand, and being a uk national i will wave my big crabby claws in the air and froth at the mouth too if i like

Peter: i am a cancer, too! water signs unite! heh.

kc: 14th Jun 2005 - 14:10 GMT

happy birthday soon, cancerians! Although I think actually I think the horseshoes are in the spider family, but I could be wrong.

elaine: 14th Jun 2005 - 14:21 GMT

they look like bugs to me. even spider crabs look wrong to me, i lead a sheltered life.
yay peter, cancarians unite and froth at the mouth. bet you have scruffy table manners too...

caracarn: woot - crab pr0n!

KingHorse: 14th Jun 2005 - 15:34 GMT

Beautiful essay and photos. I'm still a little afraid of them, illogically, the way I'm afraid of zombies. I remember reading or hearing that their lineage is prehistoric in some way, maybe that they're one of the few remaining species that survived and look exactly the way they did in the dinosaur age.

GGP: 14th Jun 2005 - 15:38 GMT

love these lyrical shots. love these ancient, prehistoric, vulnerable survivors.

elaine: 14th Jun 2005 - 15:47 GMT

i think their scariness is a bit like arachnophobia, scuttle-y fast creatures that could get all over you in a body full of holes anxiety kind of a way. maybe that's why i have trouble pulling?

Anonymous ( 14th Jun 2005 - 19:12 GMT

This entry is beautiful.

rita: 15th Jun 2005 - 00:23 GMT

horseshoe crabs are actually nothing to be afraid of. they don't have any teeth (their mouth contains bristle-like things that rub together to grind up food) and do not sting at all. their pinchers don't hurt. they're basically harmless. there are horseshoe crabs at the ny aquaruim that you can touch and learn more about. i guess you could touch those in the pictures too, but you'd probably feel better with someone who can handle them around.

and they are really old, they live no longer than 65 years?? but they have been said to be around since the dinosaurs and are related to spiders. their blood is also very useful and is used in medical research.

kc: 15th Jun 2005 - 04:08 GMT

well, once you start handling them, you can get obsessed with turning them over. I'm not sure if this is good or not! I didn't know they could get that old. They seem to get to people. I was flipping them last time I was out there and a woman came over and asked if they were dangerous, because her boyfriend had been chasing her around with one and saying the tail could sting. And a little boy seemed very tempted to bash one with a stick.

jeeff: 15th Jun 2005 - 05:44 GMT

wow, i'm learning a lot about horseshoe crabs. thanks!

Peter: 15th Jun 2005 - 14:22 GMT

if you flip them, they lash their tail around and around until they are able to flip themselves over. they are very protective of their undersides, and as such, have adapted to become very good at flipping themselves right-side up...

GGP: 15th Jun 2005 - 16:22 GMT

i think kc meant 'flipping them over' as in rescuing the upsidedown ones to help them out. :)

elaine: as am i. classic crab

elaine: 16th Jun 2005 - 15:09 GMT

and can i say, by the way, that i particularly like the whole article, including the shopping trolly. it is classic citynoise, you wouldn't see this breadth in a magazine or whatever

jack: 30th Jun 2005 - 16:46 GMT

years ago plum beach was the site for people to site each other. it was polluted in the 50's and worse now. although me thinks the pollution is less, since the crabs still live and breed but so do a lot of strange people. pictures are great. people are the ones to photograph, the hidden ones in the dunes, lurking, looking for an interlude.

kc: 30th Jun 2005 - 16:59 GMT

i suspect the people are the ones....haven't learned how to put black bars over the faces yet, though....are there any legal issues about these kinds of things? There would be for a newspaper, I believe...

Peter: 30th Jun 2005 - 17:02 GMT

considering no one would ever see it here, and if they did they wouldnt know who psoted it, im sure youd be safe. id love to see some of that sort of stuff.

i post photos of random people doing random stuff al lthe time, as do most others here. no one ever cares :)

Sarwar Jahangir: 5th Jul 2006 - 15:44 GMT

Excellent document. May I use copy these pictures for teaching.

Looking forward.

Sarwar Jahangir

anon ( 17th Jul 2006 - 16:18 GMT

Pat: I heard stories of Plum Beach from my family. who said they could only get to and from it in their Model T at low tide. My grandparents (2nd generation), father (born 1910) and my Uncle Bob went there in the early after World War 1 on weekends. I have seen pictures of the towel strew bungalo, with my grandparents on their tiny porch. When my parents started dating they went there with a club called "the gang from the holler" The holler was the land depressed area behind the Elk's building on Queens Blvd backing to the LIRR tracks. My Aunt Helen told me before they left for home in Ridgewood and Elmhurst, cousins Otto and Bob had to "bury the Kaiser", move the outhouse.

I know where it is I will will take a peek. Thank you. Pat

don\\\'t worry about it!: 22nd Oct 2006 - 14:00 GMT

I went to plum beach a couple of times,sadly it's dirty and if u walk all te way down (away from the bay) it gets a little less filthy. There are thousands of them! They are very nice animal. My mom had red nailpolish and one always followed my mom in the little pond near the curve if u keep walking.

ribsny: 21st Jun 2007 - 16:52 GMT

Thanks heaps for the photos - I had no idea about the area - I heard about it for kiteboarding - sounds a bit scary though!

anon ( 11th Nov 2007 - 04:44 GMT

Thank you for the great site!!!! I went there by accident on the way to my sister's home in Franklin Square. I was amazed. Do you have any information on when the building there shut down and what was in it? Seems like there were restrooms in this building and maybe a gift shop and snack shop.

Louie: 8th May 2008 - 18:17 GMT

I loved the article well written and so true. Its to bad NY politicians arent interested in caring for the beaches and they arent cleaned up.

A high school extra credit outing of cleaning up the beaches would go long way better still get the useless NY politicians kids to clean them up

ohyeah: 9th Jun 2008 - 23:20 GMT

You can park by sheapsheadby and enter the park from the parking lot of the motor inn motel. Still cool.

debbie brown: 4th Aug 2008 - 01:25 GMT

I was at Plum Beach in 2005. I was sadden by the way it was kept up. I live in Michigan we don"t have beautiful places like that is. I stumbled over this article, while I am working on a research paper on Global Warming. I attend to be back to the beach in 2009. Thank you for sharing this article.

coller175: 21st Aug 2008 - 01:45 GMT

this is some awesome stuff me (9) and my brother collected some shells of the Horse shoe crab

dave: 28th Aug 2008 - 15:26 GMT

I stopped there looking for a nice place to fish never realizing it's past history. Is this place safe?. After reading these articles I don't think I'll ever visit this place again.To bad because the view and the area seemed to be very nice.I cannot believe that such a nice place has such a bad history.I feel sorry for the locals,you have such a nice place to relax and visit and you can't go to unless you want to take your life in your hands.I hope that your local politicans will do something about this area.Than again it seems like there is a strong group of people that just want to keep it the way it is.

linda: 28th Aug 2008 - 19:38 GMT

I'm a teacher on my first day of school. Came outside, 3pm, school's out, sun's out, it's gorgeous. Love to swim in bays and sounds, saltwater, no waves, so having passed this closeby beach, but never stopping, I thought, I'll swim at Plum Beach! But after seeing this, am I right in assuming, no, too dirty?

Marina: 22nd Feb 2009 - 19:53 GMT

I remember how filthy this beach was in the 70's. Worse than any other area beach, I'm assiming because of the easy access from the highway, people used to dump all kinds of trash here. Car parts, construction debris... It's pristine looking now, in comparison, but I'd still give it another 10 years before I'd swim there. Go to Riis or Rockaway. They're a much better choice for swimming.

Still a lovely spot, and I believe the Littoral Society has organized volunteer clean ups here in the past. Now if only the Parks Dept would step in & tend the place a little, it would make a huge difference.

dee: 1st Mar 2009 - 02:55 GMT

I actually live near plum beach so i go jogging there a lot.. but definitely not alone! There are a LOT of creeps out there. Regardless, it's a great spot to windsurf and kite surf. On windy days you'll see over 30 of them zooming and jumping on the water. I love it too because you never know what you're going to find there. I have seen an injured seal swim up to shore, stingray carcasses, live star fish, ducks, sea gulls, swans,and even a dead shark wash up on shore. By the way, if you decide to go there watch where you're stepping. I have found multiple syringes buried in the sand.
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chris: 1st Mar 2009 - 14:33 GMT

Years ago i'm talking like 70 years ago my grandparents would go their and i believe they said little bungalows were there. It's sad how thing turn for the worst......

bill scavo: 11th Mar 2009 - 00:45 GMT

Went here with the Sisters of Mercy from St. Patricks school in mid 50's sort of remember that their was some kind of retreat there for these nuns; some kind of building. Any way found your site while searching the subject because my wife; to whom I have been married for 45 very long years, said she went there with the same nuns and went by ship. How she traveled by ship from Brooklyn to Brooklyn she cannot explain. She of course is quite insane.

Sanzay: 20th Apr 2009 - 14:43 GMT

April 18, 2009 the following groups hosted cleanup event named "Earth Day Restoration Project at Plum Beach"
"This is a cooperative effort between the National Park Service and the American Littoral Society, NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection, NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation, Bloomberg Company, NYC Audubon Society, NYC Sierra Club, Sebago Canoe & Kayak Club, Jamaica Bay EcoWatchers, as well as several school and community groups (TBA)."

So I can assume the things are moving towards the clean rather filthy. As per recent observation area is free of commercial junk but still contaminated mostly with party by-products like bottles, paper plates, utensils, blankets and trousers ;-) Only few aged boat carcasses were lying inland. Area is inhabited with drunken strangers, homeless people and other volunteers. Dog and kid walkers are cruising the shore. Kite surfers launch near the parking lot and bicycle path looks pretty popular as well. The abandoned pier to the West of the Plum Beach (right by the inn) is popular fishing place. I red this area is called “Casino Bay”. The nearest Belt Parkway Bridge to the East of Plumb Beach is also a fishing place.

Here are some photos from the last cleanup event…
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More to be added here:

KENDALL EUTEMEY: 16th May 2009 - 04:56 GMT

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anon ( 20th May 2009 - 02:54 GMT

I saw 2 kiteboarders and 1 windsurfer out today, does anyone know where I can rent equipment/take a refresher course for kiting? I learned in the DR a few weeks ago and want to continue close to home...

Dale Rutkin: 11th Jun 2009 - 13:11 GMT

My father used to take my sister and I target shooting here in the 1950's and early sixties. Archery. Of course it is illegal now. Probably was then too. So beautiful. I still go back to plum beach - just to walk and take some photos.

asa: what a dirty looking beach

David Berger: 6th Jul 2009 - 11:33 GMT

Been going to Plum Beach on and off since, probably, the 1940s, certainly the 50s. Still one of the great places of New York. I've actually picked beach plums there for pie!

Darlene: 3rd Aug 2009 - 01:36 GMT

Thank you for the article and comments. I grew up three blocks from Plum Beach and went exploring there many times as a kid but never knew the history of the spot. It was beautiful if you looked past the garbage. Unfortunately, it was too dirty to use as a swimsuit beach, we went to Manhatttan Beach for that.

Boris: 11th Aug 2009 - 12:10 GMT

It is a radical change how they cleaned up PLUM BEACH and the surrounding area over the last two years or so.Before,it was filthy, forgotten and a place to avoid. Now, it has a renewed popularity and much cleaner !

danny: 24th Aug 2009 - 14:53 GMT

why? does'nt the nyc parks dept take over the beach restoration and cleaning. It would be a great place.

KONSTANTINA: 15th Sep 2009 - 14:23 GMT

I love PLUM BEACH ! I live in Canarsie,and it is only a 7 minute drive to get there.However, I wish the PARKS DEP'T would extend the parking lot moving eastward,as in Summertime the small lot fills up by noon and you can not get a spot.There is plenty of grass and some trees there that could be cleared to make the parking lot double the size. With all the clean-up and renewed interest in this small beach spot on JAMAICA BAY,more and more locals are using it and the parking lot in Summer is just too small now to serve the public.THANKS !

vinny : 28th Mar 2010 - 23:31 GMT

i've been go to plumb beach to windsurf for over 30 years now. my friend robby and i where the first to sail there. the beach so much cleaner now then in 1980. back then the water was so dirty, the water now much cleaner . but it is still a dirty place . people come and dump garbage ,they just throw it there car in the parking lot. it is great that they do the beach clean up days. i try to go each year. plumb beach is a great little spot ,lets try and keep it clean,, thanks

jack: 29th Mar 2010 - 02:02 GMT

i can't believe the postings here. my first post here was in 2005 and now its 5 years later. got to go back there. there are a lot of strange people there. all you have to do is sit and watch. it was the same back in 1949. swingers. the building was a restroom and a snack bar during the summer. was nice once.

kayakgurrl: 16th Apr 2010 - 10:48 GMT

This beautiful beach is my weekly relaxation point! It is soooo much cleaner than it was, and a lot safer, too. At least once a week I drive there to walk, photograph, collect shells and seaglass and just sit and stare. It changes every season, and at each time of day; even at every tide there is a different view.
I wouldn't have done this a few years ago, too dirty. The dunes, trees, grasses and plumb bushes are gorgeous. You owe it to yourself to go.

gin: 23rd Sep 2010 - 12:02 GMT

My dad was born in 1919-he was the youngest of seven boys and his mom was widowed. They spent every summer in a bungalow at Plum Beach and he talked about it the rest of his life. His older brother described the heartbreak when the bungalows were razed to put in the Belt Parkway.
When my dad was dying in 1992 he was driven near there and was very very anxious to stop there-never forgot it.

Andy: 22nd Jul 2011 - 19:56 GMT

My wife and I often drive past Plum Beach on our way to Riis Beach. We've ben thinking it might be nice to take our son to Plum where the water is calmer and there are not as many big waves (he's 16 months). Is it a good place for children to play now that it's been cleaned?

Joe Iorio: 1st Aug 2011 - 19:37 GMT

Get the Parks Dept. to fix the place up.Repair the building . put a concession in and open the rest rooms. This is a beautifull place to stop off and enjoy the view.

Madge: 14th Aug 2011 - 02:50 GMT

I was walking in one of the trails with the lesbian cat-lady Karol, she hang out there daily and feeds all the strays. We stubled upon a fuck-nest used by gay men and saw dildoes,used, load-filled condoms and loads of lube tubes.

Madge: 14th Aug 2011 - 02:50 GMT

I was walking in one of the trails with the lesbian cat-lady Karol, she hang out there daily and feeds all the strays. We stubled upon a fuck-nest used by gay men and saw dildoes,used, load-filled condoms and loads of lube tubes.

Zac: 16th Sep 2011 - 16:11 GMT

Heard that there is some spots out there that has quicksand around the beach. Some mud holes ect,Jamacia bay is notorious for quicksand/mud pits. I've got caught in some in the past but never really sank all that deep just to my neck lol.

Wonda: 25th Jun 2012 - 16:15 GMT

I used to go there late at night to get screwed in the bushes back around 10 years ago.Today,it is pretty dead and the parking lot closes at 9 pm.Back then,it was a notorious sex-den,in particular for gay men out cruising.However,sluts like me too could find bi-sexual guys to screw and it was fun !

Madge: 19th Jul 2012 - 15:34 GMT

I live nearby in Belle Harbour and would often walk my dog there inside the trails with my lesbian partner Hildegaard.We knew it was a well know gay mens cruise zone.You could see handsome,young men walking around "shopping" for willing sex-mates night and day.One day we wondered in a far-off trail and found load-filled condoms,lube tubes,gay porno XXX mags and a dildo in the sex-nest.It was KINKY!

Bill: 13th Aug 2012 - 15:36 GMT

Plum Beach is one the least Known spots in NY. Great for Birding, Sunning and water sports, Well known gay cruising spot. Not a great spot for swimming. NO LIFE GUARDS.

Alan, John, Norm, Al: 19th Sep 2012 - 02:41 GMT

I hear that there is a wild pack of dogs there. The Plum Pack, Wouldnt be caught dead there

MARKO: 6th Nov 2012 - 17:02 GMT

I am a gay bottom and love to go there and get it good by the hot black men on the down-low that are e-z to find lurking around cruizing there for white ass to plug!

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