April 21, 2015

Brooklyn 2 – The new riverfront

Nothing quite so well captures the character of the post-industrial city as Brooklyn Bridge Park – 85 acres, spanning over 1.3 miles of Brooklyn’s waterfront, from the Columbia Heights waterfront district to the Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO.

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BBPIt began after the end of the working waterfront, when in 1984 the Port Authority was going to sell off the lands.  Citizens intervened, creating the Brooklyn Bridge Park Coalition, and with support from political leaders, eventually reached an agreement in 2004, with this proviso: “To ensure the park is fiscally sustainable throughout the years, the MOU mandates that all maintenance and operations of the park are required to be economically self-sufficient, financed through revenues from commercial and residential development within the site.”

The first six acres of park opened in March 2010, at Pier 1 and, adjacent, the old Fulton Ferry landing, with a bridge linking to Brooklyn Heights.

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Brooklyn has had access to the view of the East River and Lower Manhattan since at least the 1940s, thanks to the construction of the Brooklyn Promenade above the BQE, an expressway that seems to be constantly throttled with commuter traffic and gear-shifting trucks.  But now New Yorkers can touch the water and launch their kayaks..

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And perhaps more importantly, they can play.  The piers have been largely converted to some of the best recreational and athletic facilities in the city..

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I would not be surprised to hear in the future that some of the nation’s best athletes came from these fields.

And then, of course, there’s art.

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And a carousel in a box:

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And some very expensive real-estate development to help pay for it all:

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The park makes for a great loop, with an entrance at Atlantic Avenue to the south, along the river, to DUMBO at the north end, and back to downtown, or across the bridge, or to transit connections.

Needless to say, the park has become regionally popular – if anything, too popular for the local residents.  Crowd management is already an issue, not to mention the gentrification effects.     But the park is only one piece of a larger vision to open up and connect more and more of the NYC waterfront.

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