The New York Times had an nice story over the weekend about Senator Chuck Schumer’s interest in music in a Brooklyn park. The Senator has fervently supported (and attended) the indie-music series popular among many of the city’s younger crowd in East River State Park. Interestingly, the part of this park home to the concerts was a brownfield only a few years ago, that the Trust for Public Land helped turn into this great riverfront venue.
Here’s a bit of history. The six-acre site was home to the Eastern District Terminal, a major rail-to-barge shipping facility until the middle of the 20th century and abandoned for decades after shipping moved to the west side of New York Harbor. In the 1990s, a waste transfer station was proposed for the property — a plan that the community organized successfully to oppose. With the support of local and state politicians, TPL negotiated to acquire the property. After the site was found to have soil contamination, remediation measures were taken and the property conveyed to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The parcel is now the core of a seven-block park along the waterfront in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, one of the hottest areas to live in the city.
The best areas for public land in many older industrial cities have in the past been taken by these industrial uses. For other cities looking to revive their once industrial waterfronts, parks are a great way to turn eyesores into assets.