Heights History: Before the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, a Proposal for Beecher Park

The Brooklyn Historical Society’s Lisa Miller posted this week about a 1903 proposal to build an “esplanade or terrace park” spanning from Clark Street to Joralemon Street. It’s part of the BHS’s “Map of the Month” series.

The effort was led by Axel S. Hedman and Edward H. Dockam who hoped to gain support for the idea by calling their project Beecher Park after Brooklyn Heights’ own abolitionist preacher. Many of his supporters had already begun an separate effort to build a memorial.

BHS: The proposal merited an article in the New York Times on April 26, 1903. The article mentions the circular letter, and even borrows language from it as it details the proposal. The Times also revealed that the original proposal was put forward as part of a memorial to Henry Ward Beecher, pastor of nearby Plymouth Church and a leading abolitionist, which was already being advocated by a separate group. However, the two projects were no longer linked by the time the Times published the article, as the gardens had been deemed too elaborate and too expensive for the more modest goal of erecting a memorial to Beecher.

As we discuss on Homer Fink’s Hidden Brooklyn Heights tour, Hezekiah Pierrepont is also known to have made his own proposal for an esplanade in 1827. We could go on all day, but we suggest checking our Karl Junkersfeld and Martin Schneider’s video below as well as reading Henrik Krogius‘ book The Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

The Brooklyn Heights Promenade from Karl Junkersfeld on Vimeo.

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