A New Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park is the result of a bold vision as well as twenty years of planning and community advocacy.
With the close of its cargo operations in 1983, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced plans to sell the piers for commercial development. The announcement sparked a reconsideration of the site’s value as a resource for the community. The piers had not only witnessed history but offered dazzling views and, now, an opportunity to reconnect with the waterfront. There was discussion that the area could be converted in to a vibrant public park.
Protracted negotiations with the Port Authority and elected officials, as well as community group activism, would continue into the next decades, and eventually decide the fate of the piers.
From Vision to Plan
In 1998, the Downtown Brooklyn Waterfront Local Development Corporation was created to undertake a public planning process for Brooklyn Bridge Park. Community planning workshops and focus groups resulted in a conceptual framework for a waterfront park.
By 2000, the Port Authority agreed to allow the Brooklyn waterfront piers to be used as public parkland. On May 2, 2002, Governor George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed an agreement dedicating state and city funding for the park’s construction and the creation of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation (BBPDC) to oversee the design and construction of the park.
This agreement outlined guidelines for park creation, including the requirements that no less than 80% of the area would be reserved for park uses, and that the park be financially self-sustaining with respect to ongoing maintenance and operations.
In 2004, BBPDC hired the landscape architecture team of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. to lead an intensive planning process and prepare a master plan for the park.
Opening the Park
Ground was broken in 2008, and the industrial waterfront began its transformation into an urban oasis. The first six acres of the park opened in 2010 at Pier 1. Later that year, another twelve acres opened along Pier 6 and Piers 1 and 2 uplands. To the delight of children and parents, 2011 saw the renovated Empire Fulton Ferry reopened to house the historic Jane’s Carousel.
Each year sees more parkland and recreational amenities open to the public. By summer, 2015, almost two-thirds of Brooklyn Bridge Park will be complete. Ultimately, Brooklyn Bridge Park will comprise 85 acres, stretching 1.3 miles along the East River.