Apr 20 2010

Brooklyn Bridge Park: Pier 1

The Brooklyn Bridge Park is a massive undertaking.  Spanning 6 piers, 1.3 miles, and 85 acres, the park is changing the Brooklyn waterfront and enabling an even greater sense of community among Brooklynites.

Led by landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., Pier 1 opened in mid-March on 9.5 acres of reused landfill.  It is a site to behold.  I am continually impressed with the public park space in New York.  Despite New Yorkers oft cramped living quarters, it’s fairly easy to claim a patch of green space for your own.  Even before the opening of Pier 1, we've been able to walk to the Brooklyn Promenade and many little playgrounds and benches that are perfect for eating lunch, reading, or simply ‘getting away’ for a bit.

Central Park and Prospect Park are perpetually impressive, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so verbal in my appreciation for a public park than when I first went to Pier 1.  My first visit to Pier 1 was rainy (so no pictures!).  Manhattan was shrouded in fog and yet, as my friend could tell you, I couldn’t stop exclaiming over the space, the reclaimed materials, and the eerie feeling of being able to walk on water.  Fulton Ferry Landing and the Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park are incredible and provide inspiring views of Manhattan and the bridges; Pier 1 takes those views several steps further.  When standing on Pier 1, you can’t help but feel closer to Manhattan, with crystal clear views of the Statue of Liberty and vistas that allow you to gaze at Manhattan and Brooklyn in a new light.

Pier 1 has two large lawns, a playground, and a waterfront promenade.  It is lined with benches (constructed from old growth Long Leaf Yellow Pine wood salvaged from the deconstruction of the Cold Storage Buildings), viewing steps (made from stones salvaged from the Roosevelt Island Bridge), and acres of trees and plants, including Kentucky Coffees, Catalpas, Magnolias, Lindens, London Planes, and various species of Oaks. Walking the circumference of the Pier takes you first onto the flat part looking towards Manhattan before leading you up a gentle slope to the top of the pier for views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.  The park clearly fills a need in the community.  In contrast to my first rainy visit, when I returned on a much warmer, sunnier day, the park was filled with locals, children, and tourists, reading, walking, and snapping pictures.

The architects of the park are strongly tuned in with the environment.  Careful thought has been put into which materials to use, what vegetation to plant, and even how to collect storm water.  The collected storm water is used as irrigation for Pier 1 and prevents excess untreated storm water from flowing into the East River.

Here’s a quick run down of their future plans for the park:

A pedestrian bridge will connect the Brooklyn Heights Promenade to Pier 1

Pier 2: Will feature a tide pool

Pier 3: Will have multi-use recreation lawns and picnicking areas

Pier 4: Nature Island and Sand Beach

Pier 5: Athletic Fields

Pier 6: The next Pier scheduled to open, featuring a 1.6 acre playground

See maps and future plans Here and Here.