parks and recreation

This Is New York City’s Dirtiest Beach

Photo: Google Maps

Something every New Yorker wants to know before they hit the beach: Am I swimming in sewage? If you’re at the Douglaston Manor Association’s private beach in Queens, the answer is probably yes. A City Limits report that outlined the relative cleanliness of different New York beaches found that Douglaston had the most bacteria-filled samples — 45 percent in 2022 — that exceeded the city’s safety limit over the past four years. In comparison, the city’s public beaches, which are along the open ocean, are much cleaner — samples in the Rockaways didn’t exceed the safety limit at all in three of the last four years.

Douglaston, which has long been anointed a contaminated beach, has the unfortunate luck of being near a sewage-discharge point and in Alley Creek, a former site of industrial pollution. Environmentalists told City Limits that heavier rains brought about by climate change exacerbate the problem, since it can cause sewage overflow.

The problem has been an enduring issue, but locals have also long swam at the beach unfazed. “This is our fountain of youth — it’s what’s kept us healthy all these years,” one 82-year-old told the New York Times in 2008, in a piece about how Douglaston old-timers were ignoring the city’s health warnings about fecal matter. “I don’t swim way down deep, and I don’t swallow the water.”

This Is the Dirtiest Beach in New York City