This Week's Podcast: A Replay: The Bridge to Somewhere: Rebecca McMackin
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Brooklyn Bridge Park is an 85-acre sustainable waterfront park stretching 1.3 miles along Brooklyn’s East River shoreline. The mission of BBP is to be a world-class recreational, environmental and cultural destination. The park will be, and is being, enjoyed by City residents and visitors to Brooklyn.
Rebecca McMackin is the director of horticulture, and she is thrilled that all areas are managed organically – even the lawns. Rebecca is a self-described ecologically-obsessed horticulturist and designer, and so she is interested in all things that use the park including birds, butterflies and even soil organisms.
The narrow strip of “land” extends 1.3 miles from Jay Street to Atlantic Avenue. The majority of the site was a defunct bulk cargo shipping and storage complex, built by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in the 1950s but rendered obsolete by the rise of container shipping. Out of operation since 1983 and cut off from the surrounding residential neighborhood by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE), the complex includes six piers and several upland warehouse buildings. The north end of the site is the area under and between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges (a neighborhood now called DUMBO for District Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). There were plans to develop the area with high-rise buildings, but that was defeated some 20 years ago by neighbors. Then, the idea was to make this eyesore into a park. It only took 20 years to begin to have that dream realized. The park was designed by Michael vanValkenburgh Associates.
Rebecca tells us a bit of the history of BBP, what the various piers are now used for — from meadows and wetland gardens to soccer fields and in one spot, there’s an antique merry-go-round (right). (Top photo by Julienne Schaer.)
The entire area that will be Brooklyn Bridge Park will not be completely developed for a while, but it is already a thrilling new addition to the ground level New York landscape.