With the noise of the adjacent Brooklyn-Queens Expressway somewhat muffled by a 35-foot-long sound-attenuating berm, Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) officially opened a new section of the park on Thursday—the Pier 5 uplands.
Local leaders praised the efforts that went into opening the park and trumpeted the diversity of Brooklyn, which they hoped would be represented by those who use the new space.
“With the opening of the Pier 5 uplands today, we can now celebrate that 80% of the park is now complete and open to the public,” said BBP President Eric Landau. A boathouse at the park will open in the fall, providing public bathrooms, while Pier 3, the final section of the park under construction, is set to open in 2018.
The Pier 5 uplands, consisting of 3.4 acres of paths, sloping lawns and trees, is situated just north of the Pier 5 playing field, looking out onto the One°15 Brooklyn Marina. Above it, across the BQE, is the southern terminus of the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. The site was designed to serve as a “tranquil and expansive counterpoint to the more actively programmed” Pier 5 sports fields and Picnic Peninsula, BBP landscape architect, Michael Van Valkenburgh, said in a statement.
Alicia Glen, NYC Deputy Mayor and chair of the Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Board of Directors, celebrated the speed with which the project has progressed, citing the opening of Pier 1 in 2010 and the amount accomplished in seven years.
Though the morning was grey and threatening rain, Glen promised those assembled that the next day, with better weather, there would be “like a million more people here.”
“Forty-seven percent of Brooklynites speak a language other than English in the home,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, “and you hear all of those languages here at Brooklyn Bridge Park.” Adams hopes the park will allow Brooklynites to leave their comfort zones and interact with each other, creating cultural and experiential bridges.
Adams also thanked the Brooklyn Heights community for recognizing “the new norm”—as their neighborhood now hosts a destination park. He acknowledged the increase in traffic down Joralemon and Montague Streets, calling Brooklyn Bridge Park the Central Park of today. “More than a tree grows in Brooklyn, a great park has grown in Brooklyn,” he said.
NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver praised the transformation of a previously inaccessible industrial site and the “return of the most dramatic location in Brooklyn to the public.” The commissioner waxed poetic about his own trips to the park, enjoying “the breeze, the sunsets, watching people fall in love….”
Two Parks employees brought forth a green ribbon, stretching it taut in front of the speakers, who cut it neatly into sections, officially opening the new section of the park. Nearby concessionaire Ample Hills Creamery provided free ice cream to attendees—celebrating the opening of the Pier 5 uplands with a scoop.