Pros Park, Troy, Garnet Baltimore, Composite 2

On July 4th, 1902, the bands marched, politicians waxed poetic, and the people celebrated on this, the grand opening of the Warren Hill Park, on top of Mount Ida, overlooking downtown Troy. The year before, after a few positive voices of agreement, along with the usual contentious wrangling and pompous posturing, the City Council of Troy voted in favor of purchasing the parkland to create Troy’s newest and most important public park.

After debating the issue for several years, the city finally owned the land. Now it was time to hurry up and wait. People wanted to see the view that had made Mount Ida famous, a panoramic vista that on a good day, allowed people to see for miles around. Troy lies in the Hudson River valley between the Catskills and the Adirondacks, and the view from the top of the mountain would allow you to see both ranges. It was a great place to take in the summer breezes and escape the hustle and bustle of one of the nation’s busiest and wealthiest cities. The only problem was that in the rush to get people in the park, they hadn’t yet gotten around to finishing it. In fact, it was barely begun.

That was not the fault of the city’s parks landscape engineer. Garnet D. Baltimore had already scoped out other cities and their parks, including Central Park and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, and had great ideas on how to make Warren Hill Park a masterpiece. But first he needed to have his plans and a budget approved. Mr. Baltimore was a scrupulous record keeper, and the Troy newspapers faithful commentators, so we know what he had to go through to get the job done. For more background on the park and the man, check out Part One and Part Two of this story. (more…)

Prospect Park, Troy postcard 1

After the great successes of New York City’s wonderful parks, such as Manhattan’s Central and Riverside Parks, as well as Brooklyn’s Prospect and Fort Greene Parks, every city in the country was envious. Cities are judged by their public buildings and public spaces, and by the beginning of the 20th century, almost every municipality and its civic movers and shakers wanted to have exemplary parks. Parks were places that every citizen, high and low, could enjoy the beauties of nature, fresh air, and room to relax.

For many urban areas, that was key to a better quality of life and a happier populace. Thanks to the philosophies of the City Beautiful Movement, city fathers also thought that parks, like great public buildings, would inspire the lower classes to civic pride, and therefore industrious behavior, better citizenship and moral uplifting. Parks were also a chance for city fathers, committee heads, wealthy donors, and ambitious landscape designers to shine. They all knew they were creating places that would live on after they were long gone. (more…)

pierhouse 1 1272015

Construction can resume at the southernmost Pierhouse building, the condo complex going up south of the Squibb Bridge at 130 Furman Street, now that the partial stop work order has been lifted. Minor adjustments have been made to the specs so the building does not interfere with the legally protected Brooklyn Heights Scenic View District.

These include removing two parapet walls on the roof and reducing the height of the building by 1.5 feet, a spokesperson told New York YIMBY. The snow-covered site, where workers have poured part of the first floor, can be seen at the bottom left of the photo above, taken in late January. The partial stop work order was rescinded Tuesday.

“We take our responsibilities to safeguard the scenic view district very seriously,” Brooklyn Bridge Park President Regina Myer told YIMBY in an emailed statement. “The changes made here will ensure the promenade’s view plane will be protected by reducing rooftop elements and adjusting the building’s height.”

Work Set to Resume at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1 Building After Minor Height Adjustment [NYY]
Pierhouse Coverage [Brownstoner]

Pros Park, Troy, Composite

As our Brooklyn readers all know, Prospect Park was designed by the famed landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who also designed Central Park. That park opened in 1857 with great fanfare and much success. As well it should; Central Park is one of the great urban parks, and Olmsted and Vaux created a masterpiece of natural and enhanced landscaping that America had never seen before. When the City Fathers from across the East River in Brooklyn went to inspect the park, of course, they wanted one too.

One of Brooklyn’s leading citizens, James S.T. Stranahan, was appointed to head a parks committee that would oversee this great project. In 1860, they picked an engineer/architect to map out the project. His name was to Egbert L. Viele, and he had actually been the original architect picked to design Central Park. That is until someone called in Olmsted and Vaux, who blew Viele out of the water with their far superior plans for the park.’

Viele would get his chance in Brooklyn. He accessed the site chosen, a huge tract of swampy and hilly land not far from Green-Wood Cemetery, up until that time, the largest park area in the city. Viele planned to include many natural features in his park, including the city’s Mount Prospect Reservoir, atop Mount Prospect, the second highest point in Brooklyn. The park would extend west towards the highest point in Brooklyn: Battle Pass, which was part of Green-Wood. Down below lay Gowanus, the site of the Battle of Brooklyn, the first decisive battle in the War of Independence, fought in 1776.

But it was the Civil War that defeated Egbert Viele. All plans for the park had to be shelved until the end of the long war, and by that time, Stranahan and his committee had years to mull over his plans, and decided to get a second opinion. As we know, they asked Olmsted and Vaux, and before the committee’s very eyes, the partners had totally redesigned the park site, dazzled the committee with their plans, and got poor Egbert fired. (more…)

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When the Williamsburg waterfront was rezoned over a decade ago, the city promised a 28-acre park that would include what is now the burnt-out remains of the CitiStorage warehouse at North 11th and Kent Avenue. But so far, the city has not delivered, and Bushwick Inlet Park today is but a fraction of what was promised. As numerous media outlets have detailed in recent days following the fire, local residents and community activists now fear the CitiStorage owner will sell to a private developer to put up condos.

The Open Space Alliance is hosting a meeting tonight for anyone who would like to organize in support of the park. It’ll take place at 7 pm at El Puente at 211 South 4th Street.

Buswhick Inlet Park Coverage [Brownstoner]
Photo via Gothamist

prospect park fireworks

We know you’re thinking about Christmas right now, but don’t forget about the spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks show at Grand Army Plaza! There will be live music and hot chocolate starting around 11 pm, followed by the fireworks at midnight. The best vantage points for the show include Grand Army Plaza, on West Drive inside Prospect Park, and along Prospect Park West between Grand Army Plaza and 9th Street. Head over to Prospect Park’s website for more details.

Photo by Pixonomy

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When we last checked in at the construction of the Pierhouse hotel and condo development going up in Brooklyn Bridge Park, the hotel portion at 60 Furman Street had topped out but it looked like the condo part had not yet begun. Now it looks like the condo section, which is closer to Atlantic and appears in the foreground of the photo, at 90 Furman Street, is up to about eight stories, out of a total of 10. Thanks to a reader for the photo.

Pierhouse Coverage [Brownstoner]

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Toll Brothers’ Pierhouse condos in Brooklyn Bridge Park, some of the priciest real estate in Brooklyn of any sort, are more than half sold (in contract, that is) since sales launched in February. Prices are averaging $1,850 per square foot and the developer expects to realize at least $250,000,000 in revenues from the project. It has invested almost $39,000,000 into the development, said executives during an earnings call Wednesday reported by The Real Deal.

The development, designed by Marvel Architects, is still under construction in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and has angered preservationists such as Otis Pearsall and the Brooklyn Heights Association because a three-story rooftop structure housing mechanicals is unexpectedly blocking views of the bridge from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, as we reported in September.

The units have proved so popular prices have increased six times during the two and a half months of sales, said the story. Of the 106 condos, 60 are in contract. Construction is expected to wrap in summer 2015. Toll Brothers plans to eventually sell the hotel portion of the project, which will be a 1 Hotel from Starwood, for about $100,000,000, said the firm’s chief financial officer.

Toll Brothers’ Pierhouse to See Big Payday [TRD]
Rendering by Marvel Architects

bush terminal park

Bush Terminal Piers Park has finally opened on the Sunset Park waterfront, after more than a decade of planning and several delays during two years of construction. DNAinfo reported that the park officially opened its gates to the public Wednesday.

The eight-block-long green space runs from 43rd to 51st Streets but only has one entrance, at 43rd. The park has two multi-purpose soccer and baseball fields and a waterfront esplanade with tide ponds and restored wetlands, according to the Parks Department.

Until March 1, the park will be open from 8 am to 4 pm, and the summer hours will extend until 8 pm. The city spent years cleaning up the 11-acre stretch of waterfront, a former brownfield.

Bush Terminal Piers Park Opens to the Public on Sunset Park Waterfront [DNAinfo]
Image via NYC Parks

Ghouls and Gourds

On Saturday the Brooklyn Botanic Garden will host its annual Ghouls and Gourds festival. There will be tons of activities and entertainment for everyone: stilt walkers, giant puppets, crafts (make a potato person and drop him or her off at the Potato People Resort and Spa), live music and more. Children’s book authors will be reading stories and signing their books. The day will culminate with a costume parade at 4:30.

The event runs from noon to 5:30 pm on Saturday, October 25. Tickets are $15. Children under 12 are free. Click here for more details.

Photo: Brooklyn Botanic Garden

21 Commercial St.2

Work is moving forward on a few sites at the massive Greenpoint Landing development at the northern tip of Greenpoint. Excavation is underway at 21 Commercial Street, above. The 82,476 square foot building will have 93 units and 2,577 square feet of commercial space when its complete.

Last week the Daily News took a look at the design of the 22 acre waterfront park that will be an integral part of the development. Rather than building high sea walls to protect the development against future storms like Hurricane Sandy and rising sea levels, the designers are taking a softer approach. They are using sloping terraces and areas planted with salt-tolerant plants. “When people think of resiliency measures, they think they have to look tough and ugly, but there are actually innovative ways to do the same things while still looking soft and beautiful,” Lisa Switkin, one of the landscape architects on the project with James Corner Field Operations, told the News.

Across the street and a bit further south, on Dupont Street, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection has torn down the sludge tank that had been on the site, as reported, and was busy conducting remediation, removing soil, to prepare the site for its transformation to parkland. At 33 Eagle street a block over, the site of another future mixed-income building, construction has yet to begin.

Click through for more images of 21 Commercial Street, a rendering of the park and the sludge tank site.

Rendering Posted for Affordable Greenpoint Landing Building [Brownstoner]
Greenpoint Landing Developer Files First Permit [Brownstoner]
Rendering by James Corner Field Operations
(more…)

park slope stoop cyclists in prospect park

After a cyclist struck and killed a pedestrian in Central Park, the 78th Precinct is rolling out ways to get cyclists in Prospect Park to slow down and stop for pedestrians at lights. Park Slope Stoop attended the precinct’s local community council meeting last night, where the cops said they’re going to set up portable stop signs and pedestrian-activated signals manned by officers during the day starting Saturday, October 4.

When cyclists stop at the signs, officers will remind them to stop for pedestrians at the signals and give out a flyer noting the 25-mile-per-hour speed limit. Eventually, Captain Frank diGiacomo said, if cyclists don’t stop for pedestrians, cops will pull out their radar guns and start giving out tickets.

“A summons blitz is just going to piss off a bunch of people, so education first,” he said. “But we’ll go there if we have to.”

Prospect Park Safety in the Spotlight Again Following Deadly Crash in Central Park [Park Slope Stoop]
Photo via Park Slope Stoop