It may seem like it has always been part of the landscape of the neighborhood, but the iconic Brooklyn Heights Promenade is less than a century old.
Construction of the overlook and the cantilevered Brooklyn-Queens Expressway underneath started in 1946 after a contentious battle between Robert Moses and the community, which was intent on keeping a transportation project from cutting apart their neighborhood.
The promenade officially opened on October 7, 1950. According to a Brooklyn Eagle article about the event, locals were strolling along the walkway well before the ribbon cutting. Eager to get a chance to enjoy the “unobstructed freedom” of the views, residents had been ignoring the “keep out” signs and ducking around wooden barricades blocking off the unfinished park to take a stroll.
The Eagle estimated that about 1,500 people attended the official opening, which allowed access to the completed southern portion. The northern portion and two adjacent playgrounds opened in December 1951.
While it is still a stellar spot for views of the city, those views have certainly changed over the years and more changes might be in store. With the planned rehabilitation of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the DOT has raised the possibility of the temporary closure of the promenade, a proposal that has not been popular with local residents.
To mark the anniversary of the promenade, we’ve rounded up past Brownstoner stories to give a flavor of its history and allure.
Before Robert Moses created the promenade, that great cantilevered compromise between preservation and progress, Montague Street used to stretch past Pierrepont Place, all the way down to Furman Street and the piers.
Brooklynites — and perhaps some tourists — stroll along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade in these vintage photos, giving a glimpse of a scenic past.
More than anyone else in recent history, Robert Moses shaped the physical infrastructure of Brooklyn. We drive on his roads, stroll through his parks, live in his housing developments and are surrounded by his influence at every turn.
One of the greatest achievements of New York City power broker and infrastructure builder Robert Moses, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway transformed Brooklyn in the mid-20th century.
[Photos by Susan De Vries unless noted otherwise]
- The Promenade Should Stay, Locals Agree. But What Should Be Done With the BQE?
- Unobstructed Views: A 20th Century Interloper in Brooklyn Heights
- Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pierhouse Almost Complete, 1 Hotel Set To Open in 2017 (Photos)