Saturday, September 28, 2013


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.

 Above: View of  the Brooklyn waterfront looking north to FULTON FERRY 
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
Lower Manhattan.

"The Promenade, as it is known locally, is a fringe benefit
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

Interactive Map

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
being completed.

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.

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