Times on Brooklyn Heights Promenade History

The New York Times Real Estate section has a piece by Christopher Gray on the history of the Promenade, headed by the very photo of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and Promenade under construction in 1948 that begins our own Karl Junkersfeld’s video about Henrik Krogius’ book that recounts the Promenade’s history. Gray quotes Krogius on the opposition of some who lived on Columbia Heights to the inclusion of the Promenade in the BQE plan:

Some residents were horrified at this prospect, decrying the “nightmare” of “promenaders peering into windows of homes and hoodlums shouting unseemly language,” according to an account in The Brooklyn Eagle quoted by Henrik Krogius in his new book, “The Brooklyn Heights Promenade.”

One Squibb executive, according to the Times article, even offered to waive the condemnation fee for taking a portion of his back yard if the Promenade were eliminated from the plan. Evidently, he would have preferred to have the upper level of the BQE exposed a short distance behind his house than a public walkway.

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  • Karl Junkersfeld

    Actually, Nitardy’s noble gesture of donating his land was based on the condition that they “not do any damage whatsoever to the individual character of the property.” As the film shows, he was accepting of the double decker highway but he wanted to retain his garden on top. In other words, no Promenade. Can’t really blame him. Who wants people walking outside the back portion of your house/garden area peering in your windows. Residents adjacent to the The High Line, on the west side of Manhattan, have had similar complaints.

    “For New Yorkers lucky enough to have apartments with big balconies, summer is the perfect time to host outdoor cocktail parties and barbecues. But when Philip Micali goes out on the large terrace of his West 23rd Street apartment, he has an audience: the people who are walking by on the High Line.”

    “Hey man, can I have a glass of wine, too?” asks a passerby, leaning over the railing to get a better view.”

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    One more note, in the film we have a picture of an actual garden on Columbia Heights. The garden belonged to elegant Louise Casey who is shown tending to her World War II Victory Garden behind 162 Columbia Heights in 1943. She like all Columbia Heights residents would lose most of her garden to the construction. It is obvious that this construction was necessary but one can surely understand the consternation of residents on the west side of Columbia Heights.

  • stuart

    numbers 1 and 2 Grace Court also lost their beautiful gardens when the highway was cut through but do not have the promenade to make up for it.

  • Andrew Porter

    There is a photograph of the east side of Furman Street, before the BQE and Promenade were constructed, on the Brooklyn Historical Society blog, here:


    Note that at the top of the photo, you can see the very top of the deco apt building that’s on Columbia Heights, immediately next to the Clark Street entrance to the Promenade.

  • Gerry

    As I undersatnd it Two Montague Terrace lost a beautiful rose garden due to Eminant Domain the BQE came through.

  • Gerry

    I love my terrace and I use it 12 months a year I decorate for seasons and holidays and most New Yorkers who have a terrace do not use them — often I drive up the FDR Drive and see hundreads of terrace space empty no plants no chairs no use maybe a storage spot for teh bike. A pity I love my our door space.