Brooklyn Bridge Park Makes Good Use of Recyclables
Out with the old and in with the new” is one of the more flippant cliches we keep hearing, especially at the New Year. (The precise quote, from Tennyson, is “Ring out the old, ring in the new.”)
The people putting together Brooklyn Bridge Park would amend that statement. They might say something like “Out with the old [when it is useless], in with the old [when it useful] and in with the new.”
Unfortunately, the amendment is too clumsy to be a snappy one-liner, but it is quite accurate.
More and more, we keep hearing that brand-spanking-new Brooklyn Bridge Park is going to have a lot of old elements scattered about. In fact, what will turn out probably to be one of the more popular places being built is composed of granite blocks taken from, of all things, a bridge from Queens to Roosevelt Island.
Now, the park builders tell us that a lot of what held the old cold storage warehouses together will be re-used elsewhere. (Those ugly, old buildings at the rear of Pier 1 are view-blockers, and when they are gone in about a year, the views from a lot of different places will be spectacular.)
However, unimpeded views may not last forever. Original plans for that spot call for housing and probably a hotel, but it should be a couple of years before anything goes up there.
Most of the interior wood in the old buildings is yellow pine. Rather than take a bulldozer to that, the wood will be saved and used for most of the benches and tables throughout the park. Some of the park’s functional buildings will be clad with the yellow pine.
More stunning, perhaps, are plans to use 10,000 bricks from the structures when they are needed in the large Empire Stores, Tobacco Warehouse and other buildings.
One doesn’t have to be a civil engineer to realize that demolition of the cold storage buildings will be a very slow-motion affair.
But the really clever preservation will be that of the metal stars on the exterior of the old buildings. If you check out some other old buildings, some in DUMBO or Red Hook, you will see stars appearing on the outside walls, for no apparent reason.
Well, they disguise the structural tie rods without which there would be no building. Planners haven’t yet told us how they expect to use them, but I’ll bet some sculptor could have a lot of fun with them.
But the most exciting possible re-use of an older element hasn’t been mentioned by the park planners and builders. How about a pedestrian tunnel under the East River?
There have been rumors, confirmed by no one, that discussions may be held soon between Con Ed and the Brooklyn Bridge Park people. Con Ed has an outmoded power plant on the East River that stretches almost from Adams Street to the Navy Yard. We hear that Con Ed plans to close it up and tear it down.
The park folk realize what a wonderful addition and extension to the waterfront park this space could be. A lot of that old stuff could probably be re-used, but no one see the most delightful element.
This plant had been the largest producer of steam heat for Manhattan buildings. The steam got to Manhattan by a large tunnel through which people can walk, I am told. The tunnel is still there.
Whether it is large enough to be practical for people, I don’t know. But imagine what a super addition to the new park an underwater people passageway would be.
Maybe those old stars could somehow be used with it.
By Dennis Holt
Brooklyn Daily Eagle