NYT on Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 1

Flickr photo by david wong6

Flickr photo by david wong6

The New York Times architecturally reviews the recently opened Pier 1 at Brooklyn Bridge Park:

New York Times: As you move into the park from Old Fulton Street, an asphalt pathway (which will eventually be surfaced in a powdery gray gravel) splits to wrap around a large grass-covered hill before converging again at the waterfront. Another path leads up to the crest of the hill before cascading down a series of big granite stairs on the other side. The stairs, recycled from slabs of stone that once clad the Willis Avenue Bridge over the Harlem River, look out on a postcard view of the densely packed towers of Lower Manhattan. Lush lawns, places to sprawl out and relax, spread out on either side.

The softness of this landscape is played off against a number of small wild gardens peppered with sweet-gum trees and dogwood shrubs. The trees are tightly packed together so they will create what Mr. Van Valkenburgh calls a “phototropic effect,” their trunks splaying outward as they grow. A series of small water pools, salt marshes and tidal coves, framed by piles of granite rocks, give a toughness to the water’s edge as the park extends to the south. The contrast between highly manicured and wildly unruly landscapes is not just decorative. Mr. Van Valkenburgh said it was partly inspired by a 1973 essay on Central Park by the land artist Robert Smithson, which explored the ways civic and pastoral landscapes interweave. It is also a reflection of newer environmental concerns. The soft curves of the hills, for example, are shaped to direct rainwater into an underground drainage system, where it is stored in giant cisterns and used to irrigate the site.

We visited the park yesterday and it is spectacular. Watch architect Michael Van Valkenburgh’s virtual tour of the park now.

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  • zburch

    Whatever, the pleasures of the park are drowned out by the constant buzz of helicopters. I was there today and it felt like being on the set of Apocalypse Now. What a waste. One helicopter after another after another buzzing right overhead. I can’t imagine hanging out there with that going on.

  • John

    I agree with zburch about the helicopters. I think a new company is moved there from the west side. more tours more noise !

  • Teddy

    Thanks for the heads up, I’ll bring my ear plugs with me when I make my 1st visit.

  • zburch

    From what I understand the mayor has diverted ALL tourist helicopters to the South Street helipad. People initially complained that it would be too noisy, but his argument was that the $300 in revenue from tourists was too much $ to pass up. Too bad the mayor cares more about tourists in polluting helicopters than the quality of life of NYC’s citizens. It was also completely oppressive on the Promenade as well. One stupid decision has completely changed the neighborhood. I could see 4 or 5 at a time on the launchpad waiting to take off and at least 4 in the air circling around. They come in very low up to the Bridge directly over the Promenade and the Park and circle back to the landing pad. I could hear them all day in my apartment too. I am wondering what other neighbors that live closer to the water feel about this new development. My guess is the change was April 1st. I fear it will be more of the same today because of the nice weather….

  • Barbara Levine

    I agree with the above comments. I live on Clark Street and can hear the sound of what I thought were airplanes. It can be very disconcerting. Tourist came to New York long before helicopters were a mode of transportation. The Mayor ought to be considering the income, sales and the myriad other taxes and fees that residents pay in this city before the pleasure of visitors.

  • DrewBurch

    So I just read an article confirming that the Chelsea Heliport officially ended tourist flights on Thursday. They have now all moved to the east river. You can expect this level of traffic to continue, and most likely increase.

    Article here:

    It was a law suit that forced them to end flights that disturbed park goers in the Hudson River Park. It is going to take a law suit to protect Brooklyn Bridge Park too. I hope the BBPC and The Brooklyn Heights Association are ready for a fight.

  • HelloBrooklyn

    Send emails to the BB Park Authority and Conservancy, the BHA and your elected officials about the chopper noise. It is ridiculous.

  • Monty

    The chopper noise is nothing compared to the constant rumbling of the subway over Fulton Ferry Park and it’s always crowded. Feel free to stay inside with the windows shut if noise bothers you much.

  • zburch

    Just back from the park. Either the wind shifted, or some well-placed phone calls prompted a change in the flight pattern. While the helicopters are still annoying, they don’t seem to be flying as low and as directly over the park. Glad some of our neighbors don’t simply retreat inside and “take it” like Monty suggests. Writing a letter or making a phone call is a simple thing anyone can do and the result can be a more enjoyable park for everyone.

  • Nabe Girl

    I live on Willow Street and face the water, and we noticed a huge number of helicopters all day yesterday. I kept checking NY1 to see if something was going on. I could see the helicopters and they were circling lower Manhattan. I don’t think this was regular traffic. It is never as bad as it was on Friday during the day and then it promptly ended around 5:00 PM. Does anyone know anything?

  • Andrew Porter

    I suspect this is going to be normal weekday traffic. I too heard a tremendous number of copters on Friday. Note that the wonderful weather has brought a lot of us out of hibernation and onto the Promenade and now Pier One. If the flights go up drastically on Monday, you’ll know this is going to be a depressing new normal.

    My solution continues to be barrage balloons. Worked over London in WW2, no reason why it won’t work here.

  • anon

    It is a wonderful park, but I’m a little disappointed by the park for the kids. Simply put, there is not much to do there. Plus, the swings are set up only for infants and nothing for toddlers.

  • boconon

    Was there on Sunday – I’ll take the tour helicoptors over the tour busses and their noisy idling motors and their complete disregard for parking regulations (MTA bus stops and traffic islands).
    The helicoptors didn’t seem that different than normal for this area. Regardless of the departure point (e.g., Chelsea) the primary photo op has always been the Booklyn Bridge. And its the NYPD copters that provide those Apocolypse Now moments.
    It will be wild on July 4th.

  • buddy

    True, Anon. Nothing much for anyone to do but gaze at the lovely skyline (isn’t that what the Promenade is for?). So, one trip to see it should suffice. When do we get the pool back? Where are the ball courts? What do you do in the winter? What’s in it for teens?

  • Graham ‘the pipe’ Smith

    Pier 1 Brooklyn was our berth, in New York, during my time in the British Merchant Navy from 1957 to 1967. Our Company, Elder Dempster Lines, of Liverpool, England, ran cargo passenger ships between the UK, Europe, West Africa, the USA and Canada.

    Find it interesting to note that, in common with the UK, what was once dockland and a hive of industry, is now parkland and ‘leisure’ – as opposed to ‘industry’ – orientated.

    GTP. 17th September 2010