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Marine Park was originally part of the town of Flatlands and kept major development away until the 20th century when developers began to buy land in the Jamaica Bay area in anticipation of the building of a major port.

Philanthropists Alfred T. White and Frederic B. Pratt bought 140 acres of land in the Marine Park area and in 1920, the William C. Whitney family donated their land to the city on a condition that it be used as a public park.

Marine Park, holding the same name as its host neighborhood, was planned to showcase an extravagant array of activities and services such as pools, a canal, a marina, a stadium, a hockey rink, a theater and athletic fields. Those prospects were soon killed by the Depression and a scaled-down version of the park opened in 1939.

The much-anticipated port was also never built but housing construction began in the 1920s and 1930s after a sewer system was built for it.

More construction then followed in the 1930s as the Belt Parkway was completed. Flatbush Avenue was eventually extended south of Avenue U and the Marine Parkway Bridge opened to connect Marine Park to the Rockaways.