Mr. J’s Tribute to Michael Van Valkenburgh

Karl gives us scenes from, and commentary about, two parks designed by award winning landscape architect and Brooklyn Heights resident Michael Van Valkenburgh. One of these, of course, is Brooklyn Bridge Park. The other is Teardrop Park (see photo) in Battery Park City, which is part of your correspondent’s morning walk (long version) that starts on the Promenade, continues across Brooklyn Bridge, then across lower Manhattan to Battery Park City, traversing Teardrop Park and continuing to the World Financial Center, then back through City Hall Park to the Bridge. Video after the jump.

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  • lois

    I particularly like the water/wildlife features of his parks.Thanks Karl for this early morning virtual walk.

  • ujh

    Thank YOU, Karl, for this beautiful and much appreciated tribute to Michael Van Valkenburgh and his staff. I hope it helps shut up the detractors of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

  • bklyn20

    Mr J, thanks for your videos — as usual you do great work on another of many topics in our neighborhoood. But sorry, ujh, no one is “shutting up detractos” of the park plan. Nice plantings and cute fauna do not change the fact that there is too much pavement between those plantings, and that there is still a very real possibility that the canyon of condo glass around Teardrop Park in Battery Park CIty will be replicated in BBP.

    Teardrop Park– whose slide no doubt inspired the slides on Pier 6 — is a hidden park that functions as a private playground for the children of Battery Park CIty. Unless something has changed since I visited there a few months ago, there is no signage pointing out the park except for the sign right outside Teardrop Park itself. It is secreted between tall buildings, and the great majority of the kids using it live in Battery Park City. Yet “The project’s parks, gardens, plazas, playgrounds and other public places are permanently protected as “mapped parkland” by the City of New York, and are officially considered to be independently operated units of the City park system.” (This from the Parks Dept website.)

    It is a poor precedent to buiild de facto private playgrounds in NYC, no matter how cool the kids may find the slide to be. Parks need to be easily accessible for all, and not for just the near neighbors and parks mavens.

  • Seriously???

    I live across the street from a playground. At any given time I would say that over 90% of the people in the playground are people who live on my block or one over. The only sign indicating that there’s a playground there is a sign hanging on the gate to the playground. There are tall buildings on three sides of it. Does that make my playground a de facto private playground? No. The conditions I just describe apply to probably 90% of the playgrounds in NYC. You are making up issues bklyn20. PLease stop it. Noone wants to hear it anymore. When BBP was just in it’s planning stages, you and Judi F and all you other chicken littles could run around screaming that BBP was going to make the sky fall and ruin our neighborhood and you actually got a bunch of people to believe you because they couldn’t judge the park for themselves, since it didn’t exist yet. But guess what? Now there are over 20 acres of park, They are beautiful, they are packed and they are PUBLIC. Over 200 apartments at 360 Furman St are sold and have residents in them and the playground at Pier 6 has still not had a lock and key put on it yet so that only residents could enter. Over 60,000 people went to the park every weekend this summer. You and Judi can talk to eachother and agree with eachother all you want, but the rest of Brooklyn (and NYC for that matter) now undrstands that all those tales you told during the planning of this park were false, and they are not listening to you anymore.

  • David on Middagh

    @Seriously??? — 60K attendance of the park is 1000 people an hour, every hour from noon on Friday to midnight Sunday.

    My guess is the 60K weekend attendance figure includes more than Piers 1 & 6 and the path between them. Because the whole of BBP is supposed to stretch along the waterfront to the Manhattan Bridge, I’d bet visitors to the existing parkland there, and Fulton Ferry Landing, and the River Café area (which includes a park) were all included, not just the new, contentious construction on Piers 1 and 6.

    In other words, any tourist that ambled into any area designated for the consolidated park would have been counted. I don’t see how one can otherwise report such a high attendance.

  • bklyn20

    Seriously, Seriously ???… read my post before blogging. I wrote that Teardrop Park in Manhattan is 90% used by Battery Park City residents. At BBP, Pier 6 and Pier 1 are used I think by more than the immediate neighbors, but if a condo canyon is built on Pier 6 or at the North end of the park, then that will change. A “World Class Park” (capitalizations not mine) should be used by more than immediate neighbors. Even at Pierrepont Playground, many or the majority of the kids there are not from 1-3 blocks away. And of course the attendance numbers are inflated to justify the park’s highly expensive existence.

    Please cease and desist with the Judi Francis insults. She and all the other people working for a better park are the only reason that there aren’t MORE flood-evacuation-with-non-existent-retail-below-them unsaleable condos on Pier 6. We would not have even the risky housing bargain we have right now without these people’s unpaid volunteer advocacy.

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    Don’t want to inject myself into this debate but I only wish the condos at 1BBP were unsaleable. I have been hoping and praying for the prices to come down on an alcove studio on the 4th or 5th floor facing the highway, yes parallel with the highway. During the nadir of the financial crisis I had my opportunity to purchase in the low $400’s and now they are back up to over $500,000. This is a studio facing the highway I’m talking about.

    Obviously, the demand is there to maintain such high price points. If they reduced prices they would sell out in a New York second. The last tally I heard was that they are 65% sold. River View apartments are generally in the $1000 per square foot range.

    Bottom line, these apartments are very marketable. Attached is an interesting interview from the NYT’s:

  • bklyn20

    Karl, arguments aside, I ‘m sad you can’t buy a condo in 1BBP because I know you would enjoy it so much.

    But I wonder if the Development Corp et al cannot lower the prices because a goodly number of the occupied apartments there are rented rather than owned, and the building has already gotten a giant cut ($1 million?) in its financial obligation to the park. ???