FBF was New York City's first municipal airport, but never succeeded as a commercial airport--instead it became the site of a few record breaking flights during the "Golden Age of Aviation" --especially in 1932 and 1933. Many transcontinental record breaking flights originated here as well Wiley Post's Around the World Flight and "Wrong Way Corrigans" flight to Ireland. To see a full list, check out the website below...
Today, Floyd Bennett Field is managed by the National Park Service and is in desperate need of a facelift...the structures are falling apart, including the William F. Ryan Visitor Center. Some of the hangars have been saved and serve various purposes. 2 of them are being turned into huge indoor recreation facilities. Another is used to house historic aircraft maintained by the group HARP. In addition, the NYPD has their planes here and a training facilitiy. There is also military presence on the grounds as well.
There are lots of things for the visitor to do here, though. Fishing, some hiking trails, wildlife viewing (yes, in Brooklyn!) in the grasslands, birdwatching, attending ranger led programs, there are astronomy talks and campfires given here (I saw a great meteor shower on Floyd Bennett Field) picnicking...oh, and you can see where I used to live:)
The history of the area is fascinating--the prior uses of the land, how the islands were made, the progress the area has made (ie..water quality has GREATLY improved)
In the summer, Gateway National Recreation Area offers tours by way of boat from Riis Landing in Queens (right across the bridge from Brooklyn) by Coney Island and Brighton Beach, under the Verrazano and to the site of the Twin Towers. These are the sunday evening tours. The weekday afternoon ones highlight fortification in the area or wildlife (aka, birds, mostly) and flora/fauna. They are cheap and so much fun. I led these tours for a summer through the Park Service, so you get commentary, relaxation and on the Sunday evening ones, there's food and alcohol. I believe you can bring your own stuff on board too. They are great:)
The views of Manhattan from the waterfront in Brooklyn are spectacular. One of my best memories is walking the Brooklyn Bridge one summer's night and just gazing at one of the world's greatest cities as night started to fall.