CB1 Offers Qualified Endorsement to Plans for Brooklyn Bridge Revamp
Some 15,000 pedestrians and 3,600 cyclists compete with each other and souvenir vendors for as little as ten feet of width on the deck of the Brooklyn Bridge, creating an unpleasant (and potentially unsafe) bottleneck.
The August designation of two winners in the Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge design competition has spurred Community Board 1 (CB1) to weigh in about the pragmatic implications of the vision contained in the proposals.
The competition, sponsored by the City Council and the Van Alen Institute (a New York nonprofit architectural organization, dedicated to improving design in the public realm) was announced in February. The contest was sparked by the fact that, after 13 decades, the Brooklyn Bridge is in need of some surgical enhancement. A report released in 2017 by the City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) noted that the span’s pedestrian and cycling deck is the No. 1 tourist attraction in Brooklyn and among the top five in Manhattan. The report also documented that between 2008 and 2015, the number of pedestrians crossing the bridge each weekend almost tripled (reaching 15,000), while the tally of cyclists has more than doubled (topping out at 3,600).
This has led to a massive squeeze in which hordes of walkers and bikers compete for space as narrow as ten feet across — a 1.1-mile bottleneck made worse by the profusion of food and souvenir vendors who also set up shop on the bridge’s deck each day.
The “Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge” competition invited both professional designers and members of the general public (including high school and college students) to submit ideas. Entrants were invited to conceive ways of reclaiming car lanes for pedestrians and cyclists on the Brooklyn Bridge, while focusing on sustainability, social equity, and improving well-being in New York City’s public spaces. Finalists were designated in July, with winners announced in August.
“Brooklyn Bridge Forest” from Scott Francisco and the Pilot Projects Design Collective
The winner in the professional category is “Brooklyn Bridge Forest” from Scott Francisco and the Pilot Projects Design Collective. This plan aims to upgrade mobility while also acknowledging history. “The historic wooden walkway is expanded using planks sustainably sourced from a partner community in Guatemala that protects a 200,000-acre rainforest,” the proposal says, adding that, “a dedicated bike path and reclaimed traffic lane create new space for cyclists and low-carbon transit, while biodiverse ‘microforests’ at either end of the bridge serve as green spaces.”
The youth category winner is “Do Look Down,” which would install a glass-bottomed observation deck (festooned with art installations) over the Brooklyn Bridge’s traffic lanes, while repurposing part of the lower roadway into a public space for a range of users, such as pedestrians, cyclists, vendors, and performers.
While there is no guarantee that the City will implement any of these plans in full, there is a strong possibility that elements from one or both of the proposals will be incorporated into an upcoming plan to revamp the Brooklyn Bridge’s pedestrian accessibility.
A cutaway view of the Brooklyn Bridge Forest proposal illustrates the plan to repurpose traffic lanes on the lower deck for pedestrians and cyclists.
This competition followed a 2016 decision by the DOT to hire engineering firm AECOM to develop ideas about how to ease the Brooklyn Bridge’s chronic pedestrian logjam. The consultant’s primary recommendation was that DOT consider widening the deck, by partially covering the traffic lanes beneath with additional boardwalk. But the firm also suggested that DOT wait until an upcoming inspection of the bridge’s cables (the first in three decades), originally slated for 2019, to confirm that the structure can handle the additional weight. AECOM said it was highly confident that the bridge can bear the load of the new deck structure, but less certain that it could handle the heft of the additional thousands of people likely to be drawn onto the bridge by an expanded promenade.
In any event, the planned inspection never started in 2019, and was rescheduled for this year. (Given the public health crisis triggered by the pandemic coronavirus, and the economic downturn that followed, this project now appears likely to be delayed until 2021.) Regardless of when it starts, such an evaluation of the cables will take at least two years, which means that construction on the enlarged deck (if it is ultimately approved) could not begin before 2022, and would not be completed until at least 2024.
The “Do Look Down” proposal would install a glass-bottomed observation deck (festooned with art installations) over the Brooklyn Bridge’s traffic lanes, while also repurposing part of the lower roadway into a public space for a range of users, such as pedestrians, cyclists, vendors, and performers.
In the interim, DOT is considering implementing some additional proposals, but has rejected others. One option the agency deems viable is restricting the number of food and souvenir vendors allowed onto the bridge deck. Among the proposals it has rejected is the idea floated by biking advocates for closing one lane of vehicular traffic and giving that space to cyclists.
Also still under evaluation is a scheme to build a new ramp, entirely for cyclists, that would bypass the constricted approach path over the bridge’s anchorage. Instead, this new viaduct would let bikers ride directly from the central span of the bridge to Park Row, which has been closed to the public since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, because of its proximity to One Police Plaza. This perpendicular connection would run north and south, at a 90-degree angle to the bridge’s east-west orientation.
An earlier proposal to alleviate the crowding is to raise and widen the pedestrian deck.
This mix of potential uses has led CB1 to weigh in, with a resolution enacted at its September 22 meeting. In that measure, CB1 urges the City’s Department of Transportation (DOT), to give cyclists and pedestrians, “more safe, designated space in which to commute and to enjoy the Brooklyn Bridge,” and recommends that, “the DOT should engage with the Brooklyn Bridge Forest team, study the impact of their plan on the environment and traffic patterns, versus not increasing pedestrian space.
Another proposal would entail building a new ramp for cyclists to approach the pedestrian deck from Park Row.
The resolution also asks DOT to return to CB1 for a discussion about implementing the Brooklyn Bridge Forest proposal, and that the agency should “add the creation of more pedestrian and cyclist space on the Brooklyn Bridge to their Master Plan.”
The Tale of the Ticker Tape, or How Adversity and Spontaneity Hatched a New York Tradition
What was Planned as a Grand Affair became a Comedy of Errors
New York’s first ticker-tape parade erupted spontaneously from bad weather and an over-zealous stockbroker.
While the festivities in New York Harbor didn’t go as scripted that afternoon, the spontaneous gesture it generated from the brokerage houses lining Broadway famously lives on more than a century later.
On October 28, 1886, Liberty Enlightening the World was to be unveiled to New York City and the world as it stood atop its tall base on Bedloe’s Island. But the morning mist had turned to afternoon fog, blurring the view of the statue from revelers on the Manhattan shore and the long parade of three hundred ships on the Hudson River.
What was planned as a grand affair-with President Grover Cleveland as the main speaker-became a comedy of errors. The fog prevented efficient communication between the dignitaries on the island and the ships awaiting orders to fire their salutes and blast their horns at the given signal.
Even the dramatic unveiling moment itself went awry. To read more…
TODAY IN HISTORY
1938 – Orson Welles broadcasts his radio play of H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds, causing panic in the United States.
758 – Guangzhou is sacked by Arab and Persian pirates.
1831 – Nat Turner is arrested for leading the bloodiest slave rebellion in United States history.
1925 – John Logie Baird creates Britain’s first television transmitter.
1938 – Orson Welles broadcasts his radio play of H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds, causing anxiety in some of the audience in the United States.
1941 – President Roosevelt approves $1 billion in Lend-Lease aid to the Allied nations.
1944 – Holocaust: Anne and Margot Frank are deported from Auschwitz to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where they die from disease the following year, shortly before the end of WWII.
1945 – Jackie Robinson of the Kansas City Monarchs signs a contract for the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking the baseball color line.
1973 – The Bosphorus Bridge in Turkey is completed, connecting the continents of Europe and Asia over the Bosphorus for the second time.
1975 – Prince Juan Carlos I of Spain becomes acting head of state, taking over for the country’s ailing dictator, Gen. Francisco Franco.
2005 – The rebuilt Dresden Frauenkirche (destroyed in the firebombing of Dresden during World War II) is reconsecrated after a thirteen-year rebuilding project.
39 BC – Julia the Elder, Roman daughter of Augustus (d. 14)
1632 – Christopher Wren, English physicist, mathematician, and architect, designed St Paul’s Cathedral (d. 1723)
1735 – John Adams, second President of the United States (d. 1826)
1885 – Ezra Pound, American poet and critic (d. 1972)
1915 – Fred W. Friendly, American journalist and producer (d. 1998)
1915 – Jane Randolph, American-Swiss actress and singer (d. 2009)
1935 – Robert Caro, American journalist and author
1939 – Grace Slick, American singer-songwriter
1466 – Johann Fust, German printer (b. c. 1400)
2000 – Steve Allen, American actor, television personality, game show panelist, and talk show host (b. 1921)
Credits include wikipedia and other internet sources
Howard Hughes Corporation Proposes Scaled-Back Towers for Seaport Site, Along with Package of Amenities
The Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC) has unveiled its plans for 250 Water Street (a 1.1-acre parking lot in the Seaport District), including high-rise towers, more than 100 units of affordable housing, and a plan to build a new headquarters for the South Street Seaport Museum. This announcement has inspired both enthusiastic support and fierce criticism.
The full-block site, bounded by Beekman, Pearl, and Water Streets, as well as Peck Slip, has been the focus of debate and speculation ever since HHC purchased it from the Milstein family of real estate developers, for $180 million in 2018. Planning for the parcel was complicated the following year, when HHC disclosed after purchasing the site that environmental tests indicated contamination with mercury, lead, and other toxins—remnants from its historical use as the location for a thermometer factory in the 1800s. This led to the parcel becoming part of the State’s Brownfield Cleanup Program. The cleanup’s primary investigation phase wrapped up in early September.
Studio BFPL: Encounters transforms the unique indoor spaces of Brookfield Place with intimate, one-of-a-kind live musical performances that are socially distant and 20-minutes in duration. Up to six people who have traveled together can expect to be transported and entertained by these captivating experiences, featuring some of Arts Brookfield’s long-standing partners including New York Guitar Festival, Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra, Live Sounds and more. Your group of up to 6 will be captivated by a surprise musical performer – an encounter you won’t forget! Each reservation will last 20 minutes and are scheduled between 5- 9 pm EST. Registration opens on the Monday before each show at 3pm.
Monarch butterflies are everywhere in Día de los Muertos celebrations, from the holiday’s traditional symbolism to presentations about tracking the butterflies’ annual migration to Mexico and preserving their habitats. Learn about monarchs from cultural and scientific experts, and enjoy the music of GRAMMY-winning East L.A. band Queztal.
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment, Lost and Found
Just below the surface of City Hall Park sits one of New York’s architectural gems. Built during the City Beautiful movement, its design sought to uplift the spirits of New Yorkers on their daily commute.
City Hall Loop station—Contract One, Station One—was the flagship of New York’s first subway and the focus of the international press on October 27, 1904, when Mayor George McClellan connected the Tiffany-designed motorman’s handle to propel the first train north to its endpoint on 145th Street and Broadway.
The design of the other twenty-seven stations it stopped at that afternoon was dictated by the practical needs of subway efficiency—the architect’s only role was to choose the tile work that would cover the structural columns and walls. But the station below City Hall Park is different. Here, design and structure are one in the same.
City Hall subway station, was designed to be the showpiece of the new subway system with its elegant platform and mezzanine featured Guastavino tile, skylights, colored glass tilework and brass chandeliers.