Park stewards unveil plaza plans beneath Brooklyn Bridge

BB Plaza 1
Park stewards plan to build a new plaza beneath the Brooklyn Bridge this fall.
Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

They’re bridging the gap!

Brooklyn Bridge Park managers unveiled their plans for a new pedestrian plaza beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, which — along with another project at nearby Pier 2 — will complete the more than a decade-long revamp of the area, and create a continuous park along the formerly industrial waterfront, according to the park’s leader. 

“It’s very exciting that the Pier 2 Uplands, [which is] on track to open this summer, and the space under the Brooklyn Bridge, which breaks ground this fall, will complete the original park plan,” said the president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Eric Landau.

The semi-private corporation overseeing Brooklyn’s front yard plans to transform the currently fenced off lot at Water Street into a sprawling two-acre civic space, while reshaping and expanding the Fulton Ferry Lawn just north of the bridge.

The $8 million project will start in the late fall, and is slated to wrap in December 2021, according to the scheme Landau presented to Community Board 2’s Executive Committee in a virtual meeting on April 27.

The purely-advisory civic panel voted unanimously to support the project, which will still need approval from the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission in the coming months before builders can break ground.

The plans also call for installation of new benches and greenery along Water Street, along with new pathways connecting the Dumbo-section of the park with the areas south of the bridge — where piers 1-6 now feature basketball courts, roller rinks, and restaurants, and walking paths, according to Landau.

A birds-eye view of the new layout of the plaza and Fulton Ferry Lawn.Brooklyn Bridge Park

Directly beneath the bridge will be a stretch of patterned concrete pavers that mirror the length and width of the bridge, giving passersby a sense of proportion of the 183-year-old structure above, according to Landau.

“If you were standing directly under the bridge and looking above to the cabling of the bridge, the paving mirrors or mimics the underside of the bridge itself,” he said. “It’s kind of this magical place.”  

The new plaza and the paths will provide an easier connection from the park to Dumbo, where before park goers are currently forced to go around the fenced off lot along Water Street.

Future programming for the space could include seasonal markets, festivals, and educational events, according to Brooklyn Bridge Park’s website

The plaza will connect the park on both sides of the bridge to each other and with Dumbo.Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

The plaza will mark the final component of the almost 14-year redevelopment of the once working waterfront into a sprawling 1.3-mile recreational haven along the East River, which builders first broke ground on in February 2008.

The other remaining project are the Pier 2 Uplands, where planners will add 3.4 acres of parkland, a water feature with spray jets, a seating area, as well as continuing the roadside berm to diminish noise coming from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and Furman Street.

That overhaul started in the fall of 2018 and is scheduled to finish by the summer, according to Landau.

The group also recently announced the opening of a pricey new steel Squibb Bridge for May 4 replacing the previous iteration made from black locust wood, which rotted and rendered the former walkway unsafe.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak park staff have taken measures to encourage social distancing, even as the lawns have become a popular place of respite for quarantining Brooklynites, according to Landau. 

Park leaders have closed the basketball court at Pier 2, the volleyball field at Pier 6, the picnic peninsula, as well as the playgrounds and dog runs to stem the spread of the pandemic, he said.