Nancy Webster and David Shirley’s new book, A History of Brooklyn Bridge Park (Columbia University Press, 2016), recounts the grassroots, multi-voiced, and contentious effort, beginning in the 1980s, to transform Brooklyn’s defunct piers into a beautiful, urban oasis.
By the 1970s, the Brooklyn piers had become a wasteland on the New York City waterfront. Today, they have been transformed into a park that is enjoyed by countless Brooklynites and visitors from across New York City and around the world. The movement to resist commercial development on the piers reveals how concerned citizens came together to shape the future of their community.
After winning a number of battles, park advocates, stakeholders, and government officials collaborated to create a thoroughly unique city park that takes advantage of the water and the Manhattan skyline, combining an innovative design with vibrant cultural programming. From start to finish, this history emphasizes the contributions, collaborations, and spirited disagreements that made the planning and construction of Brooklyn Bridge Park a model of natural urban development and public–private partnership.
The book includes interviews with Brooklyn residents, politicians, activists, urban planners, landscape architects, and other key participants in the fight for the park. The story of Brooklyn Bridge Park also speaks to larger issues confronting all cities, including the development of postindustrial spaces and the ways to balance public and private interests without sacrificing creative vision or sustainable goals.
Co-Author Nancy Webster is the executive director of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy and David Shirley is a journalist whose work has appeared in Oxford American, the Brooklyn Rail, Chicago Review, Spin, Rolling Stone, and USA Today.
Note: Books noticed on The New York History Blog have been provided by their publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.