A once rundown section of Brooklyn’s storied waterfront with dilapidated piers and empty lots has been transformed into one of New York City’s most interesting parks. Brooklyn Bridge Park includes a manmade green belt, saltwater marshlands, state of the art public sports facilities, several great dining options, a pool, a picnic section with grills for use and lush green lawns to lounge on.
I worked on Montague Street back in the 1980’s and used to walk down to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade at lunch. It made me sad to see the old piers abandoned and crumbling into the East River. Those old sooty piers once thrived and teemed with people working. You could almost heat their ghosts in the breeze off the water. It just seemed such a waste of prime waterfront.
Many developers have considered the land for tall apartment buildings, but The Downtown Brooklyn Waterfront Local Development Corporation was created to undertake a public planning process for Brooklyn Bridge Park in 1998. This was no small victory for the many New York civic groups trying to preserve any small patch of green in their neighborhoods. They cleared out the old buildings and started from scratch.
A park of this scope takes years of planning, but the transformation happened right before our eyes. The bold and innovative vision of Michael Van Valkenburgh incorporated natural elements that once existed there with modern fixtures and public amenities. Every time I go there I discover a new gem of some variety.
The 85 acre park has a number of cool playgrounds for the little ones, music venues, quiet zones and a variety of events. The section under the Brooklyn Bridge has solid food choices (River Café, Luke’s Lobster, Grimaldi’s Pizza and others) and if you check out the little section between the bridges you will enjoy a wealth of prime selfie spots and dramatic views.
Pier 2 is five acres of basketball, handball, bocce and shuffleboard courts, over half an acre of play turf, fitness equipment, swing sets and picnic tables – not to mention free, seasonal kayaking programs.
Pier 5 is the spot for active park goers. Plan a group outing by reserving a table at the Picnic Peninsula for a barbecue with family and friends. There is a fishing spot at the end of the pier with bait tables and fish cleaning stations where I’ve seen bass and bluefish landed. In between there are soothing stretches of lush green foliage and hills that pen to prime NYC vistas.
Brooklyn Bridge Park is truly a place that has something for just about anyone. Come see a new side of Brooklyn where the ghosts of Brooklyn past have a better view.
For more information about Brooklyn Bridge Park to plan you adventure, click here.