Squibb Skate Park?

background photo by fkuffel

background photo by fkuffel

NYC Parks Commish Adrian Benepe says that the shuttered Squibb Park might make a great skateboard park for tweens:

Yournabe.com: “We got some great parks in Brooklyn Heights for younger kids and they are packed, but there’s no place for the older kids, the eight− to 12−year−olds,” Benepe said, speaking to this newspaper after a recent real estate roundtable lunch at the Brooklyn Historical Society.

“It could be a great place for the older kids with a small skateboard feature in it,” he said.

Benepe said he understands that the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation (BBPDC) wants to use the half−acre park as an entrance to Brooklyn Bridge Park, but it hasn’t been designed yet.

Last week it was announced that budget cuts had killed plans to make Squibb an entry point for Brooklyn Bridge Park.

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  • CJP

    Curious about the “Squibb” in Squibb Park. Any relation to Bristol Myers Squibb?

  • bornhere

    There was, back in the olden days :), a huge Squibb manufacturer adjacent to the playground. I seem to think the Watchtower crew is actually using the building, although they may have torn it down/rebuilt. It was just Squibb then, before the B-M merger.

  • davoyager

    Squibb park was donated by Squibb (the man who started Squibb Pharm) to the city. The old Squibb buildings are still being used by the Watchtower although they have been extensively renovated. I remember when the electronic bulletin board announcing time and temperature was over the old Squibb sign. Seems like yesterday.

  • nabeguy

    Are you sure about that Da? Given that there were private houses as late as the 60’s between the Squibb compound and the park, I’m not sure that they actually owned that property, but correct me if I’m wrong. I’ve yet to find pictures of any buildings on the west side of Columbia Heights in that vicinity prior to the BQE project although I believe that Washington Roebling’s house was in the near vicinity between Orange and Middagh. Da, I’m sure you remember the tower on top of the Squibb Building that was designed go make the entire structure look like a medicine bottle. To this day, I can’t understand how the JW’s took down a perfect representation of a Watchtower. THE BPL site has great photographs of the opening ceremonies for the park, presided over by none other than Robert Moses.

  • No2Walentas2Trees

    I do miss that park! Summers with sprinklers, it was fun….but then the crackheads came in the 90’s and the only exit could easily be blocked, thus trapping those inside. But I am not surprised that Emperor Bloomberg has cut funding.

  • nabeguy

    No2, wasn’t the park closed long before the 90’s? Given that crack is no longer an epidemic, I can’t see how that’s a threat any longer. In light of the fact that budgetary restrictions have pulled the park off the table for consideration as an entryway to the BBP project, I have to applaud Benape for not letting it be orphaned. How about a combination skate/water park? I don’t think I’m alone in saying that one of my fondest childhood memories was trying to block the sprinkler jets by sitting on them. C’mon Da, admit it, you did it too.

  • bornhere

    When I was really little, the “big playground” was pretty much off-limits for my sister and me; but I do remember a few adventurous visits, the swings (and getting clocked by them a time or two), and the famous sprinklers. It’s also interesting that, by the time I was old enough to babysit, the playground had changed to the point that, during the day, it was a great place to take my little charges to play in the water. I can’t recall ever taking my son there when he was a baby, so I’m thinking that, by the 1980s, it was already closed.
    We also had a friend (last name Sullivan), whose mom lived in a small, wood-frame house on the west side of Columbia Heights. I felt awful when the Watchtower did away with it.

  • davoyager

    Yup sure did. We also had a regular pickup basketball game every Saturday with the local PS 8 5th and 6th graders. There was a great deli where the Tutt cafe is that made the best tuna salad.
    I’m remembering the plaque on the north wall of the park. I could be wrong but it seems to me that the plaque indicated that the park was given by that man and his company. Maybe someday they will open the gate and we can read that plaque.

  • davoyager

    I was wrong, I found this on Parks Dept web site:
    Squibb Playground

    This playground honors Dr. Edward Robinson Squibb (1819-1900), founder of Squibb Pharmaceuticals, later known as Bristol Meyers Squibb, Inc. Squibb was born in Delaware and made his life in Brooklyn, settling on Middagh Street in 1858. He built the first Squibb laboratories on a site behind the present playground; if you look closely you can still see the name Squibb written on the smokestacks.

    Squibb was a naval surgeon in active service for ten years. After opening and establishing his first laboratory on Furman Street – a modest office marked with “Edward R. Squibb, M.D.” on the door – he became very influential in both the development of anesthetics and the passage of pure food and drug laws. Squibb discovered how to distill pure ether for safe use as an anaesthetic, and was renowned for his high standards and the quality of his products.

    In 1944, the Board of Estimate authorized the acquisition of this property by condemnation as part of the construction of Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, or BQE. The site was acquired in 1945, and title was vested to the City in 1946. With the construction of this playground, Robert Moses (1888-1981) was using both his powers as Parks Commissioner and Chairman of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA).

    Moses directed the construction of the BQE through the TBTA, and the expressway was built between 1946 and 1964 at a cost of $137 million dollars. Federal, state, and municipal funds were all necessary to complete the six-lane, 11.7 mile-long conduit with long elevated stretches. The BQE was intended not only to relieve congestion on local streets, but also to aid industry and business by shortening transportation time between the boroughs. After repeated rehabilitation attempts in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, the BQE will receive a $240-million dollar comprehensive reconstruction from the New York State Department of Transportation, beginning in 2001 with scheduled completion 2004.

    This park, located on Furman Street, Middagh Street, and Columbia Heights, was built in the late 1940s and named Edward Robinson Squibb Park by Local Law 30 in 1959. The park is tucked away below the street, next to the BQE. The playground is still equipped with the uniform apparatus which characterizes the era of its construction: swings, jungle gym, sand box, sprinklers, basketball court. Also present in the parkland is a comfort station, flagpole with yardarm, benches, a drinking fountain, pin oaks (Quercus palustris), London planetrees (Platanus x acerifolia), and a plaque commemorating Squibb and his contributions to science.

  • lifer

    I used to practice graffiti down there in the 80’s..there were many “rumbles” down there involving crews like CFW

  • nabeguy

    Da, that would have been the Hicks Brothers Deli, previously known as the Milan Deli and the Schlemmer deli before that. The best tuna and roast beef (roasted every morning using the recipe handed down by old man Schlemmer). After Squibb shut down, the business died off, but when it was open, you couldn’t get in there at lunch hour. I remember all the Squibb workers were dressed in white uniforms, presumably for sanitation reasons.

  • Clarknt67

    I lament the passing of Squibb as a park entry point, but think Benepe’s idea is terrific. Why not? It’s sequestered away, so the noise and kids aren’t likely to bother anyone, they’re not going to bang into anyone who’s not already there.

    I’m sure a skateboard company could even be persuaded to sponsor the conversion.

  • Neighborhood Observer

    Skateboard and other little wheels in Squibb Park…a wonderful idea. The kids currently gather late in the evening and go down the hill past SP….a risk to them, pedestrians and cars. Let’s support the kids who want to make this happen….How?