Marte Pushes for New Park and Public Space Alongside the Brooklyn Bridge
A site plan that illustrates that various phases of the Brooklyn Bridge Manhattan.
City Council member Christopher Marte is throwing his support behind a plan to create a new, dozen-acre linear park in Lower Manhattan, plus a new library and museum, on the north and south sides of the Brooklyn Bridge. All of the land in question is already publicly owned, with much of it legally mapped as park space. But the vast majority of this expanse has been closed to public access for more than a decade, mostly to allow for its use as an equipment storage area for various City agencies, and partly in response to security concerns in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
The forlorn current conditions typical of the fenced-off sites that Brooklyn Bridge Manhattan hopes to reopen for public use.
A local grassroots organization, Brooklyn Bridge Manhattan (BBM), has developed a plan to change all of this. Their vision would reopen and revitalize six outdoor sections—three each on the north and south sides of the bridge—from Park Row to South Street. The same plan would bring to life the Vaults (the soaring, arched brickwork spaces that comprise the Brooklyn Bridge’s anchorage), converting them for the first time to public use. The scenario outlined by BBM notes these spaces would house “ideally a New York Public Library combined with a Brooklyn Bridge Museum housing a collection of documents and artifacts from the design and construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.” This network of indoor and outdoor spaces would ultimately connect with the East River Park and Greenway, now under construction along the waterfront, beneath the Brooklyn Bridge.
In an October 12 letter to the administration of Mayor Eric Adams, Mr. Marte said, “I write to express my full support for Brooklyn Bridge Manhattan, a community-driven envisioning of the properties under and around the Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan, known as the Manhattan Anchorage. Upon approval by the City, my office is committed to providing dedicated funding to support the construction and full realization of this project.”
He continued, “Brooklyn Bridge Manhattan would reopen the Manhattan Anchorage to the public from Park Row to the waterfront, creating new open spaces, recreational areas, and institutional and community uses. At the intersection of the Civic Center, the Financial District, Chinatown, and the Lower East Side, this project would provide deeply needed open and public spaces in the heart of the city, activating a site once rich with economic activity and public life.”
The BBM plan calls for the creation of the new park in multiple phases. The first of these, which the group proposes to implement immediately, is the reopening of a padlocked basketball court, and the reactivation of Brooklyn Banks—an iconic destination for skateboarders, drawn by the streetscape in the park that provides an undulating terrain of ramps, rails, ledges, and jumps. (Long before any of these stunts were legal in New York, boarders from around the United States would come to the City to compete there, and connect with one another.) BBM argues that neither of these areas is currently used by construction crews performing maintenance work on the span above.
A cutaway view detailing the infrastructure upgrades that the organization envisions.
The second phase in BBM’s vision would reopen the two blocks between Park Row and Pearl Street, while also opening the Vaults and the adjacent lands for public park space. The third (and final) stage would include the largest open spaces, adjacent to the East River.
Through each of these phases, the BBM scheme would create new playgrounds and active recreation facilities, while also putting a fresh face on significant pieces of infrastructure, such as the Park Row tunnel, which affords walkers and bikers a connection between the Financial District and Chinatown, will also providing access to the pedestrian deck of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Mr. Marte’s letter notes that creating this new park would be timely, because large sections of waterfront park space are slated to be closed to the public in the near future, for multiple years. “Much of the neighborhood’s existing open space will be fenced off by the Fidi-Seaport and Brooklyn Bridge-Montgomery Coastal Resilience projects for the foreseeable future. Brooklyn Bridge Manhattan provides an opportunity to return the Manhattan Anchorage to the public as a vital open space and economic driver for the diverse communities in its proximity.”
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Constructed over a millennium from the fourth to fourteenth centuries CE near Dunhuang, an ancient border town along the Silk Road in northwest China, the Mogao Caves comprise the largest, most continuously created, and best-preserved treasure trove of Buddhist art in the world. Learn more at this presentation.
Lower Manhattan Greenmarkets
Greenwich Street & Chambers Street
Wednesdays and Saturdays, 8am-3pm (compost program: Saturdays, 8am-1pm)
Bowling Green Greenmarket
Broadway & Whitehall St
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8am-5pm (compost program: 8am-11am)
World Trade Center Oculus Greenmarket
Tuesdays, 8am-5pm (ending this month)
The Outdoor Fulton Stall Market
91 South Street, between Fulton & John Streets
Indoor market: Monday through Saturday,11:30am-5pm
CSA pick-up: Thursday, 4pm-6pm; Friday, 11:30-5pm
Outdoor market: Saturdays, 11:30am-5pm
Today in History
In November 1922, Albert Einstein was short of cash while at a hotel in Tokyo, so he wrote a note to a bellboy in lieu of a tip. On this day five years ago, that note sold for $1.56 million. It reads, “A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.”
1260 – Chartres Cathedral is dedicated. Most of the original stained glass windows survive intact.
1861 – The first transcontinental telegraph line across the United States is completed, spelling the end for the 18-month-old Pony Express.
1901 – Annie Edson Taylor is the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
1911 – Orville Wright remains in the air nine minutes and 45 seconds in a Wright Glider at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.
1926 – Harry Houdini’s last performance takes place in Detroit.
1929 – Black Thursday stock market crash on the New York Stock Exchange.
1931 – The George Washington Bridge opens to public traffic.
1945 – Founding of the United Nations.
1946 – A camera on board the V-2 No. 13 rocket takes the first photograph of Earth from outer space.
2002 – Police arrest spree killers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, ending the Beltway sniper attacks in the area around Washington, D.C.
2003 – Concorde makes its last commercial flight.
2008 – Bloody Friday: many of the world’s stock exchanges experience the worst declines in their history, with drops of around 10% in most indices.
2014 – The China National Space Administration launches an experimental lunar mission, Chang’e 5-T1, which will loop behind the Moon and return to Earth.
2017 – Albert Einstein’s Theory of Happiness sells for $1.56 million
1891 – Rafael Trujillo, 36th President of the Dominican Republic (d. 1961)
1936 – Bill Wyman, singer-songwriter, bass player, and producer (The Rolling Stones and Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings)
1939 – F. Murray Abraham, actor
1986 – Drake, rapper, actor
1725 – Alessandro Scarlatti, Italian composer and educator (b. 1660)
1852 – Daniel Webster, American lawyer and politician, 14th United States Secretary of State (b. 1782)
1935 – Dutch Schultz, American mob boss (b. 1902)
1944 – Louis Renault, engineer, co-founded the Renault Company (b. 1877)
1972 – Jackie Robinson, American baseball player and sportscaster (b. 1919)
1979 – Carlo Abarth, Italian automobile designer, founded Abarth (b. 1908)
2005 – Rosa Parks, American activist (b. 1913)
2017 – Fats Domino, rhythm & blues piano player, singer, dies at 89