CLOVE Lakes Park’s name, and that of the road that borders it, has nothing to do with clover; instead, it is derived from the Dutch term for “cleft,” and to gain perspective on why, observe how the nearby Staten Island Expressway divides Grymes Hill to its north and Emerson Hill to its south; the expressway describes Clove Road’s former route “cleaving” the hills.
Of all Staten Island’s green spaces this, along with Silver Lake Park to the east, is the most developed and most closely resembles landscaped Central and Prospect Parks; it’s dominated by picturesque bridges, winding walkways, close-cropped grass and artificial brooks. Rent a boat or a horse, and traverse its ponds and bridle paths. In 1965, I exercised a nascent desire to explore by wandering away from my father into the park’s hills, necessitating an afternoon-long search and a smack on the rear once found.
The brook that wanders through the park, Clove Brook, is a tributary of Palmer’s Run, which eventually empties into the Kill Van Kull. Beginning in 1825 by miller Abraham Britton, it was dammed into a series of ponds, Brooks Lake, Martling’s Pond, and Clove Lake. Where the brook meets the ponds, you will see a succession of picturesque waterfalls, the only ones on the island.
The park administration building, just inside the park on Clove Road near the par’s southeast end, was designed by O.A. Madsen in the 1930s and built using native fieldstone; it was later renovated by Aymar Embury II. In 1989, it was vouchsafed an official name, giving NYC its very own Stonehenge, several millennia younger than its British namesake, the megaliths that some say were used for everything from timekeeping to ritual sacrifice outside Wiltshire.
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