Brooklyn Bridge Park: A Dying Waterfront Transformed

Joanne Witty (Author) Henrik Krogius (Author)


A major social and political phenomenon of how a community overcame overwhelming opposition and obstacles to build the Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Stretching along a waterfront that faces one of the world's greatest harbors and storied skylines, Brooklyn Bridge Park is among the largest and most significant public projects to be built in New York in a generation. It has transformed a decrepit industrial waterfront into a new public use that is both a reflection and an engine of
Brooklyn's resurgence in the twenty-first century. Brooklyn Bridge Park unravels the many obstacles faced during the development of the park and suggests solutions that can be applied to important economic and planning issues around the world.

Situated below the quiet precincts of Brooklyn Heights, a strip of moribund structures that formerly served bustling port activity became the site of a prolonged battle. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey eyed it as an ideal location for high-rise or commercial development. The idea to build Brooklyn Bridge Park came from local residents and neighborhood leaders looking for less intensive uses of the property. Together, elected officials joined with members of the communities to produce a practical plan, skillfully won a commitment of government funds in a time of fiscal austerity, then persevered through long periods of inaction, abrupt changes of government, two recessions, numerous controversies often accompanied by litigation, and a superstorm.

Brooklyn Bridge Park is the success story of a grassroots movement and community planning that united around a common vision. Drawing on the authors' personal experiences--one as a reporter, the other as a park leader--Brooklyn Bridge Park weaves together contemporaneous reports of events that provide a record
of every twist and turn in the story. Interviews with more than sixty people reveal the human dynamics that unfolded in the course of building the park, including attitudes and opinions that arose about class, race, gentrification, commercialization, development, and government.

Despite the park's broad and growing appeal, its creation was lengthy, messy, and often contentious. Brooklyn Bridge Park suggests ways other civic groups can address such hurdles within their own communities.

Product Details

Fordham University Press
Publish Date
September 07, 2016
7.1 X 1.0 X 10.1 inches | 1.8 pounds

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About the Author

Henrik Krogius (Author)
Henrik Krogius (deceased) was a writer and producer for news programs at NBC and the editor of the Brooklyn Heights Press and Cobble Hill News, where he closely followed the Brooklyn Bridge Park project from its inception.

Joanne Witty (Author)
Joanne Witty is a lawyer and an environmentalist, and has served in both city and state government. Since 1998, she has been a park leader as president of the Local Development Corporation that created the park's master plan and vice chair of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation that is building and operating the park.


"Brooklyn Bridge Park: A Dying Waterfront Transformed is a remarkable telling of an important story. It's a provocative narrative of tenacity, community activism, politics, perseverance, contentious decision making, and strategic solutions. For anyone interested in urban planning, this book is a must-read. Ultimately, Witty and Krogius remind us that the public triumph of a beautiful park is well worth a good fight!"----Deborah Schwartz "president of the Brooklyn Historical Society "
"As a former parks commissioner, it is amazing to me that a spectacular new waterfront park built at great public expense could be as controversial as Brooklyn Bridge Park. This excellent book details how complicated and difficult it was to conceive, design, finance, and build the park and chronicles the dedication and ingenuity of the many who made it happen."----Betsy Gotbaum "former commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and New York City Public Advocate (2002-2009) "
"Only in Brooklyn! A tired waterfront becomes a great park and welcomes the world to New York's hippest borough. This fine book tells the inside story of how it happened, of how government works in the real world, of how citizen-actors and political pros produced an urban masterpiece."----Marty Markowitz "former Brooklyn Borough president and twenty-three-year member of the New York State Senate "
"Brooklyn Bridge Park recounts the long-running saga of high-stakes competition over the fate of a spectacular piece of waterfront real estate. This fascinating account describes all the challenges and reveals the fascinating combination of politics and process, 'pluck and luck, ' behind the result. The 'Grand Bargain' that made the park possible is a grand story."----Ellen Schall "Senior Presidential Fellow at New York University and Martin Cherkasky Professor of Health Policy and Management at NYU Wagner "
More than a simple history of the park, this book digs beneath the surface to explore why and how this environmental masterpiece came to be.----Brooklyn Daily Eagle