Baisley Pond was created in the 18th century by farmers who dammed three streams in southeastern Queens to power their grain mill. Namesake David Baisley farmed the land in the 19th century.
Today Baisley Pond Park comprises 109 acres of land running from 116th Avenue to the Conduit.
The main feature of the park is of course the pond, which attracts many people with its beauty. When frozen in the winter, it draws skaters, some of whom have fallen through the ice and been rescued over the years. But on Jan. 23, 1960, luck ran out as it claimed the lives of at least two children.
Firemen and police officers tried to save them but were unable to. One, fireman James O’Malley, made 15 dives and spent nearly 15 minutes in the icy water. Extension ladders were utilized to keep the would-be rescuers connected to the shore. Four firemen and four policemen required treatment for submersion and frostbite as a result of their efforts.
There was much confusion at the scene, since no one was sure how many children were playing on the ice when it cracked. After it was determined that the two victims had died, a third youngster was reported missing. Available records do not indicate that child’s fate.
More than 50 years later, new generations, not knowing the danger, are still attracted to the pond’s serene beauty and seeming harmlessness.