First, a horse rendering plant, then a 19th-century landfill, this beach of glass is scavenger heaven. Like most of New York City, Dead Horse Bay has a long history of changes. Over the years, much of old New York has been torn down, replaced, torn down again, and replaced again by new buildings and people, and the layers of history are all but forgotten. Not true at Dead Horse Bay, where remnants of the past litter the beach today.
Just across the road from the Floyd Bennett Airfield on Barren Island is a short trail that leads down to Dead Horse Bay. Back when Barren Island was actually an island, it was home to many horse-rendering plants. Some 70 years later, bones still wash up on the beaches and can be seen among other flotsam and jetsam.
Thousands upon thousands of bottles, broken and intact, many over 100 years old, litter the shore. Other hardy bits of trash pepper this beach of glass: leather shoe soles, rusty telephones, and scores of unidentifiable pieces of metal and plastic.
The horses aren’t quite gone either; found throughout the bay are one-inch chunks of horse bone, a somewhat unpleasant reminder of Dead Horse Bay’s pungent past.