Map of Downtown Brooklyn, 1939
"FULTON FERRY a waterfront hamlet in Brooklyn's earliest days,
is now an isolated sector of musty, dilapidated buildings nestling
in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge"
Map and quotation from, The WPA Guide to New York City, 1939.
neighborhood, c. 1945. Below: Brooklyn Heights Promenade, c. 1951.
I have known the Brooklyn waterfront from Atlantic Avenue to
the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge since 1943. Once, it was a
thriving port area with cargo ships loading and unloading as well
as the terminus of barges conveying railway freight cars from
New Jersey across the East River. The areas most remarkable
architectural feature was a group of brick Civil War era brick
warehouses. (Seen in the first photo above.) Long gone, there are
similar extant brick Civil War era warehouses ("stores") to be
found in Red Hook, Brooklyn. On several occasions, I walked to
the foot of Joralemon Street hoping to get closer to the water's
edge, but access was restricted. When container ships began
to dominate international trade, the piers and their attendant
warehouses were abandoned.
Traditionally, Brooklyn Heights had been an upscale neighborhood
with stately brownstones, grand mansions and elegant apartment
When the Brooklyn Heights Promenade (occupying a platform
above the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway) was completed in
1951, it added an incredible amenity to the neighborhood
providing a one-third of a mile longitudinal park affording
spectacular views of
from the construction of this section of the Brooklyn-Queens
Expressway ... one of the few brilliant solutions for the
relationship of auto, pedestrian and city - was projected
from the crest of the Heights to overlook the harbor at a
fourth level, over two levels of a highway and a service
road for the piers below."
AIA Guide to New York City, Third Edition
"Brooklyn Bridge Park is a world-class waterfront park with
rolling hills, river front promenades, lush gardens, and
spectacular city views. The park currently features sand
volleyball courts, running and bicycle paths, a boat launch
for non-motorized boating, several playgrounds, a picnic
area, as well as a dog-run and pool. Our list of amenities
continues to grow as we work each day to revitalize this
previously deteriorated waterfront space and build a park
that will allow New Yorkers to rediscover the waterfront.
"Brooklyn Bridge Park partners with Brooklyn Bridge Park
Conservancy to provide a programming schedule that
contains over 400 free activities throughout the year
ranging from children’s education programs and bike
lessons, to performing arts and fitness classes.
Whether seeking a day of physical activity or simply
relaxing on our lawns, Brooklyn Bridge Park has something
Undoubtedly, The Promenade set a standard of imagination
and environmental design to be matched by new amenities
introduced to the neighborhood. When I made my first visit
to the yet-to-be-completed Brooklyn Bridge Park recently,
I would say that this objective is clearly in the process of
Recently, I walked from the foot ot Atlantic Avenue to the
base of the Brooklyn Bridge. I found completed recreational
areas surrounded by some construction. The promise of a
spacious, user-friendly, well-designed urban recreational
space was evident. All of those who contributed to this venture
should be congratulated.