DUMBO threw the switch on free, neighborhood-wide wireless Internet service on Thursday, making the area between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges the first true Silicon Alley in the city.
“It makes us the digital district of New York,” said Alexandra Sica, executive director of the DUMBO Improvement District, which helped create the network. “Only in DUMBO — where the streets are paved with Wi-Fi!”
Two Trees Management Company, which created modern DUMBO when it started buying warehouses decades ago, paid $65,000 to set up Wi-Fi antennas on its many residential and office buildings.
“We’re pleased to be able to provide this amenity to our tenants — they are the ones who provide life and energy to the neighborhood,” said Jed Walentas, a partner at Two Trees. “Their success becomes our success.”
More than 80 tech startups, production houses, and designers call DUMBO home, and local officials praised the innovation as a way to attract more creative talent — and visitors — to the waterfront.
The free Wi-Fi will also encourage locals to take the creative process into the fresh air. One digital firm plans to move work from its Jay Street building to the archway beneath the Manhattan Bridge.
“This is going to become our outdoor office,” said Andrew Zolty, creative director at Breakfast, a Web company near Front Street. “If you can get a connection anywhere, you can do much smarter, cooler things.”
Users can access the speedy 50-megabyte-per-second connection after creating an account.
“This is the future of New York,” said Dana Spiegel, executive director of NYCwireless, which creates public wireless points. But for now, full Wi-Fi coverage in New York City has been hit or miss because most public wireless has been built by business improvement districts or wealthy patrons such as Two Trees — and not every neighborhood has such things.
For example, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership installed free Wi-Fi in Willoughby Plaza, Albee Square and a seating area at Willoughby and Fulton streets last year.