Sometimes a bike ride is not just a bike ride, sometimes it’s a history lesson. On a recent ride from Owl’s Head Park to Bensonhurst Park along the Brooklyn waterfront, this rider stopped to take a photo of a small sandy beach and pier, apparently no longer used or accessible to the public. Just east of the Verrazano Bridge is where the site lives. Later internet research (thanks forgotten-ny.com) revealed an important and historic site.
Denyse Wharf (as I learned it was called), was named after Denyse Denyse (sounds like Dutch for Denis to me.. or GoT), a prominent New Utrecht resident in the late 1700s. Denyse ran a ferry to Staten Island from his wharf at this site. "The British and their Hessian and Scottish compatriots under General William Howe chose the Denyse Ferry as the place to land in New Utrecht for a major offensive on August 22, 1776, after massing 437 ships off Sandy Hook by July 12th. The Narrows was relatively undefended since the Americans were expecting a landing at Gravesend. According to legend, a Tory (loyalist) woman waved a red petticoat from Cortelyou’s house to signal the invaders: many New Utrecht residents were loyalists. The patriots had only three cannons on the promontory above the Narrows, and fought vigorously, but the British warship Asia responded by firing a volley that damaged Bennett’s and Denyse’s houses, but curiously, not Cortelyou’s... 15,000 British troops entered New Utrecht virtually unscathed; they were quickly able to overrun Kings County, bivouacking in the various homesteads throughout the locale. Howe himself commandeered Cortelyou’s house. Denyse himself was a patriot. In 1783, when the British evacuated New York City, they left from the Denyse Ferry." -from forgotten-ny.com
by Rose Bothomley