Henrik Kronius has a wonderful piece in the Brooklyn Eagle about the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, which turns 57 on Sunday.
Brooklyn Eagle: The Promenade at 57: Beginning in 1976, when I first began looking into the Promenade’s history and discovered how undocumented it was, I was in touch with a number of Moses’ engineers, almost all of whom were still alive (at least a couple lived into their 90s), as well as senior Heights people and former officials. While the Heights Association’s perspective was that its efforts had gotten the highway pushed over to Furman Street, the engineers who had been with Andrews & Clark, the structural design firm for the Promenade section, were of the view that cost estimates alone had dictated that move, as the condemnation costs for a Heights-bisecting highway would have been too great.
But where did the Promenade come from? It was not part of any scheme for the highway, and, indeed, when the final (and only) public hearing on the project was held by the City Planning Commission on March 10, 1943, the official plan was to run the six lanes of the highway on essentially a single plane along the backs of the houses on Columbia Heights. At that hearing, Ferdinand Nitardy, a vice president of the Squibb pharmaceutical company (whose large buildings at the foot of Columbia Heights now hold administrative offices of Jehovah’s Witnesses), pleaded with Robert Moses to put the highway on two decks, one above the other, topped by a “cover” on which he could restore his rear garden.