Hoffman Island is one of two small artificial islands in the Lower New York Bay, off South Beach, Staten Island. A smaller island, known as Swinburne Island, lies immediately to the south. Created from Orchard Shoals by the addition of landfill in 1872 and named for former New York City mayor (1866-1868), and then-current New York Governor (1869-1871) John Thompson Hoffman, Hoffman Island covers 11 acres (4.45 hectares), while Swinburne Island's area is about 4 acres (16,000 m²).
The latter island, also of artificial origin, was originally called Dix Island, but was renamed in honor of Dr. John Swinburne, a noted military surgeon during the Civil War. In the early 1900s, the islands were used as a quarantine station, housing immigrants found to have been carrying contagious diseases when they landed at Ellis Island.
Today, both Hoffman and Swinburne islands are managed by the National Park Service as part of the Staten Island Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area. They are still off-limits to the general public, however, to protect the islands' avian residents. Hoffman Island hosts a large number of nesting wading birds, including great egret, snowy egret, black-crowned night heron, and glossy ibis. Double-crested cormorant dominate Swinburne, and great black-backed gulls nest on both islands. Beginning in 2001, harbor seals have been seen wintering around the islands.