Flushing Bay

Flushing Bay is a tidal embayment in New York City. It is located on the south side of the East River and stretches to the south near the neighborhood of Flushing, Queens. It is bordered on the west by LaGuardia Airport and the Grand Central Parkway, on the south by Northern Boulevard, and on the east by the neighborhood of College Point. The Flushing River empties into the bay at its southeast corner. A 150-foot-wide navigational channel (46 m) dredged at a depth of 14 feet (4.3 m) runs along much of the bay's length.[1]


Flushing Bay was an important source of food for the Matinecock tribe of Native Americans and early European settlers, providing fish, shellfish, and waterfowl. After the American Civil War, the area surrounding the bay became waterfront resort for the wealthy. The World's Fair Marina, constructed for the 1964 New York World's Fair, is located on the southern end of the bay beside the East Elmhurst neighborhood. The marina is part of Flushing Meadows–Corona Park and it is bordered by the 1.4-mile-long (2.3 km) Flushing Bay Promenade.[2]

On September 21, 1776, the Colonial patriot Nathan Hale was captured by the British Army near a tavern at Flushing Bay after being fingered as a spy.[3] He was hanged the next day on Manhattan Island.

The Williamsburgh Yacht Club is located on the east side of Flushing Bay in College Point. It was established in Brooklyn in 1865, but then the yacht club moved to North Beach (now part of the LaGuardia Airport) in 1896.[4]

The New York City Department of Sanitation's North Shore Marine Transfer Station is located in College Point on the eastern shore of Flushing Bay. From 1954 to 2001, this site was used to transfer garbage from trucks to barges. A new transfer station at the site opened in 2015.[5]


On March 22, 1992, USAir Flight 405 crashed in the bay shortly after takeoff, and 27 out of the 51 people on board were killed.[6]

On March 5, 2015, Delta Air Lines Flight 1086 skidded off the runway at LaGuardia Airport and stopped a few feet away from Flushing Bay. 24 people were injured and the aircraft was damaged.[7]

Proximity to LaGuardia Airport

The present shoreline of Flushing Bay has been largely altered by the development of LaGuardia Airport. Before the airport opened in December 1939, millions of cubic yards of landfill were added to the western shoreline of the bay to create space for runways.[8] In 1966, the Port Authority extended the northern end of Runway 4 (or 22) by 2,000 feet (610 m) and the western end of Runway 13 (or 31) by 1,500 feet (460 m) by constructing a 50-acre (20 ha), pile-supported concrete deck over parts of Flushing Bay, including the Rikers Island Channel.[9] In the 1990s, about 20 acres (8 ha) of Flushing Bay were filled in to create an overrun at the eastern end of Runway 13 (or 31). To offset the loss of wetlands, new wetlands were constructed adjacent to the airport in Flushing Bay and in Little Neck Bay.[10]

Concerns have arisen given the proximity to a flight path into LaGuardia Airport,[11] although the government of New York City has stated that the design includes adequate safeguards to prevent the facility from attracting flocks of birds that might be harmful to airliners.[12]


In 1964 a 2,800 ft (850 m)-long dike, commonly known as “the Finger,” was built to protect boats docked at the World's Fair Marina from strong waves. Protruding from LaGuardia Airport, the dike is often cited as the cause for the bad smell that emanates from the bay, especially in the summertime.[13] Flushing Bay and Flushing River have a long history of being used as dumping areas for sewage discharges and industrial waste. While this pollution is a problem in itself, the dike prevents the water in the bay from circulating naturally. Plans to increase circulation have included slicing a waterway through the dike; however, dredging of the bay floor has been the most frequent proposal.[14]

Following repeated complaints about Flushing Bay's "rotten egg smell", a $47 million cleanup of the bay was announced in 2015.[15][16] As part of the cleanup, a $15.4 million dredging project near the World's Fair Marina was undertaken in 2017. Also during the cleanup, old pilings were removed and replaced with wetlands, a project completed in mid-2018.[17][18] The city also rebuilt sewer lines leading to the Bowery Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant in nearby Bowery Bay, reducing Flushing Bay's sewer outflows by about 225,000,000 US gal (850,000,000 L) per year.[18]


  1. Chart 12339 (Map). 1 : 10,000. NOAA. June 1, 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  2. "Flushing Bay Promenade - Historical Sign". New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  3. Dwyer, Jim (June 29, 2010). "New York Spycraft, From Nathan Hale to the Cold War, and Beyond". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  4. "Williamsburgh Yacht Club History". Williamsburgh Yacht Club. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  5. "New York's Garbage System Faces Mounting Challenges of Cost, Carbon and Equity". City Limits. 2015-05-18. Retrieved 2019-06-03.
  6. "Accident description at the ASN". Aviation Safety Network. March 11, 2008. Retrieved July 16, 2010.
  7. CNN, Greg Botelho. "LaGuardia runway reopens after flight skids off it". CNN. Retrieved 2019-06-03.
  8. "LaGuardia Field - predecessor to bigger and better things in the air". Daily News. New York. April 29, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  9. "Air Cargo". Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. Archived from the original on April 6, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  10. "Birds and Fish Return to Park on Little Neck Bay" (Press release). Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. May 5, 1999. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  11. Hall, James E. (June 27, 2011). "No Trash, No Crash". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-01-19.
  12. "Statement by Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty on the North Shore Marine Transfer Station Project in College Point, Queens" (Press release). New York City Department of Sanitation. June 9, 2009. Archived from the original on August 7, 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-19.
  13. Woodberry Jr., Warren (October 29, 2000). "Big Stink Over Flushing Bay: To Many It Smells of Garbage". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  14. Woodberry Jr., Warren (October 14, 2005). "Let's Flush-Out Bay. Growing Cry to Clean Up Foul Mess". New York Daily News. The Archives @ Queens Library.
  15. Plitt, Amy (2015-08-26). "$47M Cleanup Will Rid Flushing Bay of Its Horrible Stench". Curbed NY. Retrieved 2019-06-03.
  16. "City Launching $47M Clean-Up To End Rotten Egg Smell Near LaGuardia". DNAinfo New York. Archived from the original on 2019-06-03. Retrieved 2019-06-03.
  17. "Bid farewell to Flushing Bay's infamous stench". am New York. Retrieved 2019-06-03.
  18. "Ecological upgrades clean up polluted Flushing Bay". QNS.com. Retrieved 2019-06-03.

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