Staten Island is called the borough of parks for a reason. Per acre, we have more park space than any of the other four boroughs. That says something about the people of Staten Island, we hold nature in high regard.
Silver Lake Park is one of the great gems of the north shore. Born in 1900, when writer and prominent Staten Island resident, John DeMorgan requested funds from the State Assembly Committee on Cities to establish the 209 acres as a park to be enjoyed by Staten Island’s rapidly growing population, the park was designed to become Staten Island’s version of Central or Prospect parks. More than one hundred years later, Silver Lake offers parks goers a host of recreational opportunities including an 18 hole golf course, tennis courts, recreation fields, playgrounds and water features to cool off on hot summer days.
The park is named for the lake at its center which was formed at the end of the ice age. Formerly known as Fresh Pond, the name Silver Lake came into play in the first quarter of the 19th century and took several decades before it finally stuck.
Before the park was acquired, its lake was making history. On its shores once sat a casino and saloon which was a cause for concern for John DeMorgan and other residents surrounding the lake. In his plea to the State Assembly for funds to acquire the park, DeMorgan called the casino and saloon “a contaminating influence”. In February of 1897, the lake hosted the National Skating Amateur Championship races. It was also used by local businesses for ice harvesting which was sold to residents to cool their food
As electric refrigeration replaced the use of ice for food preservation, the lake was drained in 1913 and converted to a reservoir by the Board of Water Supply. As the end point of the Catskill water supply system, Silver Lake played a role in New York City’s water supply.
Aside from the reservoir and recreation areas, Silver Lake also includes land from Marine Cemetery, a nineteenth-century burial site for the Marine Hospital Quarantine in Tompkinsville. It is thought that thousands of immigrants who perished from contagious disease are buried beneath a portion of the fairway of Silver Lake golf course.
Silver Lake Park is located on Staten Island’s north shore, is bounded by Forest Avenue, Victory Boulevard and Clove Road.