BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK is a network of green waterfront and former industrial piers-turned-public space linked together by promenades and extending 1.3 miles along the East River from Jay Street to Atlantic Avenue. The combined total of 85 acres of lawns, playing fields, walkways, playgrounds and even a dog run is managed and maintained by the non-profit Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation. The park Corporation collaborates with the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, a non-profit group that played a pivotal role in advocating for the creation of the park and which now works full time to help the park flourish as a local and regional resource. CLICK here for extra info and quiz.
NARRATOR: Nancy Webster is Executive Director of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, which produces diverse and innovative programming for park visitors and cultivates volunteer and philanthropic support for this special place on the Brooklyn waterfront. In 2015, Webster spearheaded the opening of the park’s Environmental Education Center. Featuring interactive displays and a marine aquarium, the Center serves as the home base of the Conservancy’s robust education programs. With co-author David Shirley, Webster has written A History of Brooklyn Bridge Park: How a Community Reclaimed and Transformed New York City’s Waterfront, published in 2016 by Columbia University Press. Prior to the Conservancy, she was an advertising creative director at Burson-Marsteller. A former advertising professional, Webster is a waterfront enthusiast and avid fisherman and sailor.
Podcast I Introduction (3:58)
Ten years ago this 85-acre park was a “bleak, barren, stretch of industrial waterfront.” Today Brooklyn Bridge Park includes a promenade, playing fields, five 5-acre piers–all in a state-of-the-art sustainable open space. Nancy Webster offers an example of the special advantage of the park’s “soft edges”: school children studying marine life under the Manhattan bridge.
Podcast II Expenses and Funding (2:22)
Waterfront parks are expensive. This park was planned from the start, however, to be self-sustaining.
Podcast III How the Park Got Built (2:30)
In the mid-1980’s the Port Authority intended to sell the piers for commercial development, but community groups emerged with different interests and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy (a 501(c)3 organization) emerged as the leader of a coalition of over sixty organizations committed to seeing a park on the Brooklyn waterfront. Today the Conservancy’s role has been transformed, and enlarged, to fundraising and providing free programs for the public.
Podcast IV Neighborhood Effects (2:47)
Brooklyn Bridge Park owes its very existence to untiring advocacy in local community groups, and the Conservancy is among the organizations that ensures that the park’s design and programming continues to be responsive to community interests and needs. As President of the Conservancy, Nancy is also looking at the park’s role in the larger region and the potential for future coordination with other waterfront parks that are just a boat ride away.
Podcast V A “Richer Relationship With Our Geography” (2:23)
The essential perspective a waterfront park can offer—on who we are and where we live.