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Friday, August 26, 2011

Camping In The Big Apple

When you think of New York City, your mind probably drifts to thoughts of bagels, Times Square or traffic gridlock.

But a new campground has opened at the end of Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn — allowing tourists and locals alike to try their hand at pitching a tent, starting a fire and sleeping under the stars.

The idea for the campsite, called Floyd Bennett Field, came about in the 1970s. But it wasn’t until this July Fourth weekend that 40 spots were opened to the public.

And it’s been a booming success, with over 1,200 visitors in less than 2 months. The site has attracted locals and out-of-town visitors, and for $20 a night within 15 miles of Times Square, who wouldn’t want to book a plot?

John Warren, the public affairs specialist at Gateway National Recreation Area, told Here & Now‘s Sacha Pheiffer that there’s plenty of nature, and that “the campground itself is definitely on soil [and] it’s surrounded by trees. You can’t see the historic buildings or the rest of Brooklyn from the campsite.”

Warren added that not only is camping a good way for tourists to experience New York City in a different way, but it’s a great way for urban dwellers to get a taste of the outdoors without going too far from home.


  • John Warren, public affairs specialist at Gateway National Recreation Area in New York and New Jersey, part of the National Park Service

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  • Michele Wurm

    “It’s one of the only campgrounds in the world within city limits of a major metropolitan area.”  I wish that we as a nation would stop ignoring things that are happening in other countries.  And stop being obsessed with being “the first”, “the only”, “the biggest”, “in the world”, etc.  This quote is just ridiculous, and I expected more from NPR.  If NPR wanted to say “one of the only in the USA”, then that would have been factually correct, but please do not say “the world” unless you’ve done the research.
    In Europe, urban camping has been around for decades.  And not only do major European cities have campgrounds within city limits, but they are much easier to get to by public transportation (without a car) compared to Floyd Bennett Field.  They are also much more central to their respective downtowns.  While travelling through Europe, I camped in Prague, Vienna, Amsterdam and Venice. And I’m sure there are many others.
    I live in Brooklyn, and I am incredibly excited about Floyd Bennett Field starting a campground.  I hope that this starts a new trend in this country.  But please, when giving the context for this concept, NPR really needs to do it’s research and look at the precedents.  Give credit where credit is due.  And it would also make a more interesting story, to hear about the history and background of the urban campgrounds in Europe. Perhaps we’d all learn something.  And we could certainly use some humility as a nation.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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