The Broadsheet – Lower Manhattan’s Local Newspaper
Lower Manhattan Students Mobilize to Demand Return of Park Space Beneath Brooklyn Bridge
The park known as Brooklyn Bridge Banks has been closed to the public for more than a decade, to facilitate maintenance work on the span above.
On March 15, a team of student leaders from the Urban Assembly Maker Academy, a school located in Lower Manhattan, presented to the Waterfront, Parks, and Cultural Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1) a plan for reopening the Brooklyn Bridge Banks Park, located in the shadow of the iconic span that stretches across the East River from City Hall.
Amy Piller, the principal of the Urban Assembly Maker Academy (headquartered alongside the Brooklyn Bridge, within the Murry Bergtraum Campus, on Pearl Street) began by noting, “most of our students go out to eat at lunchtime. Particularly now, in light of the pandemic, there are really limited places where they can go.”
One nearby place these students cannot go is Brooklyn Banks, park space beneath the Brooklyn Bridge that was “temporarily” closed more than a decade ago for use as a staging area to facilitate maintenance work on the Brooklyn Bridge. In 2020, an online petition demanding that the facility be reopened garnered more than 45,000 signatures, and CB1 has passed numerous resolutions demanding that the space be made available to the public once again.
“Our students are really excited about the potential of having a place where they can be themselves, be social, and have some space and time to be together,” Ms. Piller continued.
These thoughts were echoed by Rosa Chang, a CB1 member who is also a leader of Brooklyn Bridge Manhattan, a not-for-profit founded in 2021, with the goal of reopening Brooklyn Banks. She said, “parks are part of our civic infrastructure, equally as important as bridges and sewers and electricity. They are where we, as a society, come together—where we learn from each other, where we share and grow.”
Before its closure, the space had become a gathering point for both skateboarders and stunt cyclists.
The formal presentation was led by Maker Academy students Marcela Rivera, Phebe Kwarteng, Mehdi Rahmani, and Liam Rice. Mr. Rahmani began by explaining, “we reinforce the student’s voices to help improve our community. Our Maker Academy core values curiosity, risk-taking, self-awareness and resilience.”
Mr. Rice observed that, “we, as a team thought that this was a very beneficial thing. The first thing that we all thought about was our lunch time and how, in an urban environment, it’s very difficult to find space to be ourselves. Having this open space would be really beneficial for the mental and physical health of students, by giving us a place to relax and unwind.
The Maker Academy team also presented illustrations documenting that reopening just a few acres of Brooklyn Banks would provide ample public space for local students and residents, while leaving many thousands of square feet of storage space for maintenance equipment.
Committee chair Paul Goldstein reflected that the City’s Department of Transportation (DOT), which has commandeered the park for maintenance work on the Brooklyn Bridge, “has to respond to this community board and to our work letters and resolutions, which they have not. And that is just unacceptable.”
Brooklyn Banks is an iconic destination for skateboarders, because the streetscape in the park 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.
In the years after its debut in the early 1970s, the site evolved into an unofficial cultural and historical landmark, in large measure due to its design by the renowned landscape architect, M. Paul Friedberg. Ironically, Mr. Friedberg never intended to create a Mecca for the subculture of skateboarding, which was then just beginning to coalesce. He simply wanted to transform a barren patch of Lower Manhattan into useable public space. But the red brick that he chose to cover the ground (and from which “Red Brick Park” took its original name) turned out to be a material much prized by boarders, who regard it a second only to marble in the quality of ride it affords. And the sloping topography of the site provided the rest of the magic that skateboard enthusiasts crave, by unleashing the power of gravity. The sidewalk surfers who were drawn to the site christened it with the name that has stuck ever since: “The Banks.”
In the mid-2000s, Brooklyn Bridge Banks was a legendary venue that drew boarders from around the world.
In November, 2020, CB1 hosted a meeting devoted to these concerns, which attracted dozens of speakers. Afterward, the Board passed a resolution noting that, “CB1 recognizes both the global and local significance of the Brooklyn Banks Skate park … as an iconic cultural and athletic institution that benefits many cross-sections of the community, including its merit for spectators.” The same measure urged the City’s Department of Transportation (DOT), which has commandeered the space for vehicle parking, and as a staging area for work on the Bridge, the Parks Department, “and our elected officials [to] work together with the community towards the common goal of returning and converting this space under the Brooklyn Bridge back to the public.”
The DOT responded to this resolution by saying that it will need to occupy the park space well into the 2030s, for ongoing Brooklyn Bridge maintenance projects.
In March 2020, CB1 chair Tammy Meltzer wrote to the DOT’s Manhattan Borough Commissioner, Edward Pincar, saying, “CB1 has unsuccessfully attempted to formally engage DOT numerous times since December… to continue publicly discussing this important issue,” while also raising questions about that agency’s need for so much space, and for so long. She argued that, “this community has already lost use of this important public space for over a decade and is not prepared to be without it for additional years. DOT needs to work with CB1 on a plan to return portions of these areas not under construction as soon as possible. DOT has not demonstrated that the entirety of the area needs to remain closed until all bridge-related work is complete.”
“We look forward to working together to be able to start returning the space under the Brooklyn Bridge back for public use,” Ms. Meltzer concluded.
To the editor:
Thank you Matthew Fenton for being the only reporter to give a complete account of the protests against the jail about to go up in Chinatown unless we are able to stop it.
I went to the last protest in February, and plan on going tomorrow. I encourage all, who care about the budget of over a billion dollars of our taxes, going toward building a jail, to come out and make your voices heard.
Eyes to the Sky
March 21 – April 3, 2022
Equinox Sun, Spring Star Arcturus rising, Solar Orbiter’s closest approach
SA/NASA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft captured this largest solar prominence eruption ever observed in a single image together with the full solar disc on 15 February 2022. This latest event … extended millions of kilometres into space.
Photo credit European Space Agency/National Aeronautics and Space Agency
Today, March 21, is nearly a replica of yesterday, March 20, when the rising Sun marked due east on the horizon and the setting Sun marked due west, while tracing an arc in the sky that brings about equal day and night. The Vernal Equinox (aequus = equal and nox = night) is the astronomical first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. As seen in the illustration, below, our star’s equinox trajectory is halfway between the winter and summer solstices, the shortest and longest days of the year, respectively.
While we align with the movement of the Sun in relation to Earth, astronomers are observing our parent star through the eyes of a spacecraft that is approaching closer to the Sun than ever in human history.
The Solar Orbiter, a project of the European Space Agency and our National Aeronautics and Space Agency, crossed the Earth-Sun line – halfway point between our planet and the Sun – on March 8.
The brilliant flying machine arrives at perihelion, the name for closest approach to the Sun, next Saturday, March 26. Solar Orbiter will be less than one-third of the distance from the Sun to Earth and is designed to survive for relatively extended periods of time this close to the upper layer of the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona, which is millions of degrees Celsius.
Stargazers all, we observe the change-of-season Sun by day and the equally stirring changing positions of the stars in the nighttime sky. Spring stars and constellations rise in the east and travel the celestial dome all night while winter celebrities command the west, setting around midnight. Most dramatic, winter’s Sirius the Dog Star, the brightest star in Earth’s skies, appears at nightfall (see diagram), then wildly twinkles, flashing rainbows as it nears the southwestern skyline from about 10pm. until midnight. Opposite, above the eastern horizon, second brightest star in northern skies, golden Arcturus the Spring Star, rises with a brilliant flourish in the east at around 8pm.
1. 250 Water Street Brownfield Cleanup Program – Update by Lawra Dodge, President, Excel Environmental Resources & Independent Community Monitor
2. Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency – Battery: Amended Preliminary Public Design Commission (PDC) Application – Presentation by Greg Sprich, Project Manager, Stantec & Amy Seek, Landscape Architect, Stantec and Resolution
3. Battery Park City Resiliency update (South BPC Resiliency drainage update, construction staging & Public Design Commission final submission) – Presentation by Battery Park City Authority & resolution
Tuesday March 22
6 River Terrace
Join in on the fun featuring easy-to-follow Latin dance choreography while working on your balance, coordination and range of motion. Come prepared for enthusiastic instruction, a little strength training and a lot of fun. Participants are encouraged to bring their own equipment: weights, water bottle, hand towel etc.
Chicago and New York offered a handful of very different preconditions that influenced the way skyscrapers were designed and built in the two cities.
Chicago’s murky soil forced engineers to carefully parse their structures into point supports and broad, snowshoe-like pads, which suggested structures above could be thought of as more skeletal frames than continuous walls. The city’s large, regular lot sizes also allowed a regularity in structural grids, and its laissez-faire politics permitted thinner walls than other, eastern cities—at least through 1893, after which unions and builders began a pitched battle over the city’s building code.
The first session of the Construction History series focuses on Foundations to consider a “ground up” understanding about how buildings were constructed in each city, given the local conditions. Although Manhattan had abundant bedrock, even some of the tallest 19th-century skyscrapers did not rely on it. Small lots and slender towers were common conditions in the dense financial district, whereas Chicago’s big blocks and soft soil posed different problems. Free
Led by Ben Wang, CI’s Senior Lecturer in Language and Humanities, this free virtual workshop is designed for K-12 educators (though we welcome all to attend) to help advance a deeper understanding of the uniqueness of Chinese classical poetry. In addition, by sharing his personal collection of the rare original couplet in calligraphy, Mr. Wang will showcase how the calligraphic art form expresses meaning and personal style, while capturing the moments of a feeling.Free
Round up your friends and test your knowledge of the American Revolution! Brush up on your revolutionary history and complete to win some great prizes! Free
‘A Decade of Dust’
Rally Planned for Sunday to Oppose City Plan to Build World’s Tallest Jail in Lower Manhattan
Opponents of the City’s plan to build the world’s tallest jail in Chinatown plan to rally Sunday (March 20) in Columbus Park (near Worth and Baxter Streets) at 1:00 pm to voice their concerns about the risk that the project poses to the surrounding Chinatown community.
“The community has been protesting the detrimental environmental, economic, and human impact of this plan since 2019,” explains Jan Lee, a co-founder of Neighbors United Below Canal (NUBC), an advocacy group formed to oppose the jail plan. “And this is our last chance to change the Mayor’s mind,” he adds, in a reference to City’s announcement that demolition of the Manhattan Detention Complex, at 125 White Street, is imminent. (The current structure, which dates from 1983, is slated to be torn down in order to make way for a new facility at the same site, the design for which calls for a 400-foot edifice.) This plan envisions five to seven years of demolition and construction work, at a cost of $2.3 billion.
Historic, Publicly Owned Battery Maritime Building Has Reopened, But Only for Paying Customers
Community Board 1 (CB1) is raising questions about the use of what was supposed to be public space at the Battery Maritime Building, located at Ten South Street.
The publicly owned structure, located next to the Staten Island Ferry, is a landmarked Beaux Art ferry terminal built in 1909. It served for three decades as the gateway for boats taking passengers across the East River, but after commuters and vehicles gained direct access to Manhattan with the advent of bridges, tunnels, and subways, ferry usage declined and the building fell into disrepair.
Providing Companion and Home Health Aide Care to clients with dementia.Help with grooming, dressing and wheelchair assistance. Able to escort client to parks and engage in conversations of desired topics and interests of client. Reliable & Honest
Ethical and respectable gentleman, an IT Wizard, seeks a living/work space in BPC. Can be a Computer help to you and your business, or will guarantee $1,500 for rental. Reciprocal would be great!
Folk dance group seeks empty space of 400+ sq feet for 2 hours of weekly evening dance practice.
Average attendance is 10 women. This is our hobby; can pay for use of the space.
Call 646 872-0863 or find us on Facebook. Ring O’Bells Morris.
Kind loving and honest Nurse’s aide seeking FT/PT job. Experience with Alzheimer’s patients
Excellent references available please call Dian at 718-496-6232
HOUSEKEEPING/ NANNY/ BABYSITTER
Available for PT/FT. Wonderful person, who is a great worker.
Worked in BPC.
Call Tenzin 347-803-9523
News Analysis & Opinion: Stop Driving Us Out of Our Homes
Why Parity Is a Parody of Affordability
If you live in Battery Park City, you likely received a letter in the mail recently from the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA), spreading a false narrative about how the Authority is “keeping Battery Park City affordable.” The truth is that the BPCA appears to be doing everything in its power to create and preserve luxury housing, along with a token number of low-income rental apartments. This is forcing out moderate- and middle-income homeowners and renters—who have built Battery Park City into the vibrant, thriving community it is today. And it is worth noting that 40 percent of owner-occupied homes in Battery Park City fall into the moderate- and middle-income categories. To read more…
Esplanade or Espla-Nada?
City Says Planned Improvements to East River Waterfront Are On Hold
The February 22 meeting of Community Board 1 (CB1) included an update about long-planned improvements to the East River Esplanade, some of which are being cancelled.
Paul Goldstein, the chair of CB1’s Waterfront, Parks & Cultural Committee, said, “we got a report from Economic Development Corporation [EDC] regarding some of their waterfront assets and projects that are ongoing—or not.” (The EDC is a not-profit corporation controlled by City government, which oversees development of assets, such as publicly owned property.)
“Unfortunately, a lot this project is not moving ahead for a variety of reasons,” Mr. Goldstein explained, “the biggest one being that the City is focusing much more on resiliency, and they don’t want to go ahead with improvements that may interfere with that.” To read more…
Lower Manhattan Greenmarkets
Greenwich Street & Chambers Street
Every Wednesday & Saturday, 8am-3pm
Food Scrap Collection: Saturdays, 8am-1pm
Open Saturdays and Wednesdays year round
Bowling Green Greenmarket
Green Greenmarket at Bowling Green
Broadway & Whitehall St
Open Tuesday and Thursdays, year-round
Market Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Compost Program: 8 a.m. – 11 a.m.
The Bowling Green Greenmarket brings fresh offerings from local farms to Lower Manhattan’s historic Bowling Green plaza. Twice a week year-round stop by to load up on the season’s freshest fruit, crisp vegetables, beautiful plants, and freshly baked loaves of bread, quiches, and pot pies.