Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park is an 85-acre park on the Brooklyn side of the East River. The park has revitalized 1.3 miles of Brooklyn's post-industrial waterfront from Atlantic Avenue in the south, under the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and past the Brooklyn Bridge, to Jay Street north of the Manhattan Bridge. The site includes piers 1–6, the historic Fulton Ferry Landing, and the Empire–Fulton Ferry and Main Street Parks.
Historically, Brooklyn Bridge Park was the site of a major port and ferry landing. In 1642 the first ferry landing opened on the land that is now Brooklyn Bridge Park's Empire Fulton Ferry section. Soon after a thriving trading economy developed in the area, and served as a crucial strategic location for George Washington and the Continental Army in the American Revolution's Battle of Long Island. In the middle of the night, George Washington and his men evaded the British Army, who were quickly gaining upon the Continental Army, by escaping across the East River to Manhattan.
As the 18th century came to a close, additional ferry services were added to this waterfront community, including docking points for the "Catherine Street Ferry" and the first steamboat ferry landing that was created by Robert Fulton, which eventually became known as the Fulton Ferry Landing. The community continued to grow into the 19th century as Brooklyn Heights developed into a residential neighborhood. By the 1850s, Brooklyn City Railroad rail lines were installed at the Fulton Ferry Landing. During this boom period, brick warehouse development proliferated along the waterfront.
However, following the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883, the demand for ferry service greatly decreased. The Manhattan Bridge, developed in 1909, further disrupted trade to this section of the East River. The addition of these two bridges ultimately lead to the demise of this waterfront and the closing of the Fulton Ferry Landing in 1924. Throughout the 1950s, over 130 warehouses and 25 finger piers were demolished along Brooklyn's waterfront. In order to accommodate larger ships and cargo, the New York Dock Company built 13 new piers between 1956 and 1964—this development includes Piers 1–3 and 5–6 of what is currently Brooklyn Bridge Park. However, as trade technology advanced, so did trade routes.
By the 1970 much of the Brooklyn waterfront developments were largely barren and decrepit, causing the Port Authority to end cargo ship operations there fully in 1983. In 1984, shortly after closing cargo ship operations on this stretch of waterfront, the Port Authority decided to sell the vacant piers for commercial development. In response to these plans, the not-for-profit organization Friends of Fulton Ferry Landing was established in 1985, conceiving the idea of Brooklyn Bridge Park.
However, it was not until May 2002, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor George Pataki signed off on the plans for New York State and the City of New York to create, develop, and operate Brooklyn Bridge Park on 85 acres of the East River waterfront, stretching from Atlantic Avenue to Jay Street. Park construction officially began on January 28, 2008.
The first 6 acres of park opened in March 2010 at Pier 1, including a waterfront promenade, lawns, a playground, and the Granite Prospect. Later that summer nearly 12 acres of parkland opened on Pier 6 and the Pier 2 uplands, bringing diverse playgrounds, sand volleyball courts, concessionaires, and natural habitats to the park. The Empire Fulton Ferry section, including this historic 1920 Jane's Carousel, re-opened in September 2011.