Hundreds of people gathered at Floyd Bennett Field in 1938 for the return of Howard Hughes after his flight around the world in a Lockheed Super Electra.

By Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy

You may have seen the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC) team exploring the local ecology with students on Rockaway Beach or planting cordgrass to help restore the salt marshes of Jamaica Bay. You may have even volunteered with us to clean up marine debris along the shoreline and you may wonder, what else is JBRPC up to that I can be part of? You won’t want to miss our upcoming exciting Public Arts Festival at Floyd Bennett Field – a free event for everyone!

JBRPC is a public-private partnership dedicated to improving public parklands throughout Jamaica Bay and the Rockaway peninsula. We work to expand public access through recreation, education, stewardship, and volunteerism. This includes the preservation and restoration of natural areas, including wetlands and wildlife habitats. JBRPC is proud to partner with government agencies, elected officials, non-profit organizations, the business community, and the public to ensure the long-term sustainability of our precious parklands.

Throughout the year, JBPRC offers opportunities for the public to participate in free programs aimed at deepening connections to parks in Jamaica Bay and Rockaway. Programs like the Jamaica Bay Festival, Horseshoe Crab Festival, open-paddle kayaking on the bay, and shoreline cleanups highlight underutilized parks and the various recreational opportunities that exist while encouraging participants to become stewards of these shared spaces.

The Floyd Bennett Field! Public Arts Festival is an exciting new addition to the free public programming hosted by JBRPC. In the past, JBRPC sponsored the Rockaway! Public Arts Festival to celebrate the reopening of historic Fort Tilden. First organized by MoMA PS1 and the Rockaway Artists Alliance in 2014, in partnership with JBRPC, Rockaway! featured solo projects by Patti Smith, Janet Cardiff, and Adrian Villar Rojas. Since then, Rockaway! has welcomed tens of thousands of people to Fort Tilden. Visitors experienced site-specific outdoor installations by artist Katharina Grosse in 2016, the installation of Narcissus Garden by Yayoi Kusama in 2018, and an augmented reality project by Nancy Baker Cahil in 2020 and 2021. The Floyd Bennett Field! Public Arts Festival continues this tradition of public art around Jamaica Bay.

The first-ever Floyd Bennett Field! Public Arts Festival is a free family-friendly weekend-long event that will feature two evenings of site-specific digital artworks, projection-mapped onto the 11,000-square-foot façade of historic Hangars 3 & 4 celebrating the park’s rich history and vibrant future. The main event, on Saturday, April 20, will also include live music, activities for all ages led by community non-profits, a local makers market, food trucks, a silent dance party with live projections, and more! The Festival coincides with the conclusion of Gateway National Recreation Area’s 50th anniversary year as a destination for millions of New Yorkers and visitors to enjoy a National Park experience in the urban environment.

The purpose of this event is to highlight the natural beauty and historical significance of Floyd Bennett Field and to celebrate the promising future of Hangars 3 & 4. We hope that the Festival’s custom artworks will draw attention to the forthcoming rehabilitation and reactivation of these significant structures and other areas. The cooperation of the National Park Service, partner organizations, and community members is essential for the care and conservation of parks and public resources. In that context, JBRPC is a proud partner in this endeavor to highlight Floyd Bennett Field as an unmissable National Park site.

Floyd Bennett Field is located on the shore of Jamaica Bay in southeastern Brooklyn. Jamaica Bay is New York City’s largest open space – an unparalleled oasis of nature covering 26 square miles. It includes a complex of fringe marshes, marsh islands, and freshwater ponds across a vast landscape managed by multiple agencies. More than 10,000 acres of public parklands surround the Bay, interspersed with heavily developed land, including residential areas and major infrastructure assets like John F. Kennedy International Airport, the Belt Parkway, and the MTA Rockaway Line. Despite this intense urbanization, Jamaica Bay provides critical spawning and nursery habitat for more than 80 migratory and estuarine fish species, over 300 bird species, and several turtle species. Jamaica Bay is also home to the “living fossil” horseshoe crabs, which have not changed in nearly 500 million years!

New York City’s first municipal airport, Floyd Bennett Field is now a significant site in aviation history and an important public space utilized for many recreational opportunities. The first buildings to be constructed were the impressive set of eight hangars that continue to stand today in the park’s historic Hangar Row. The Ryan Visitor Center, housed in the original terminal building, is another eye-catching building that can be explored during opening hours. Along the shore of Jamaica Bay, visitors can also take a tour of Hangar B which houses a collection of historic aircraft, maintained by the volunteer Historic Aircraft Restoration Project (HARP). The site is named after Floyd Bennett, who earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for his role in the first flight over the North Pole in 1926. He is one of many fliers who added to the field’s history as an airport for experimental aviators who dared to break flying records in speed and distance. Due to its critical role in the Golden Age of Aviation, Floyd Bennett Field highlights New York City’s central position in the global history of flight.

The Floyd Bennett Field! Public Arts Festival is being held on the third weekend in April 2024. The Opening Night Artists Preview & Reception occurs on Friday, April 19 from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, April 20 is the main event with activities for all ages starting at 4 p.m. and featuring live musical performances, a makers market, and food trucks. Projection mapping on the historic Hangars will start at 8 p.m. followed by a silent dance party with more live projections from 9 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. Everyone is invited back on Sunday, April 21 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. for special access to the Ryan Visitor Center and Hangar B, where the park’s collection of historic aircraft will be on display. JBRPC looks forward to welcoming everyone to share this special place for a weekend of fun and celebration.

For more information visit or scan the QR code.

The Rockaway Times is the official media sponsor for the Floyd Bennett Field! Public Arts Festival.

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