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Park is Open 7 Days a Week | 6AM - 1AM
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Pier 28AM - 11PM* Pier 56AM - 11PM* Education Center3-5PM (THU/FRI), 1-5PM (SAT) Pier 6 Volleyball Courts6AM - 11PM Playgroundssunrise-sunset
Visiting The Park

Brooklyn Bridge Park History

What is now an 85‐acre sustainable park stretching 1.3 miles along Brooklyn’s East River waterfront has a rich and storied past.

Waterfront History

The area that is today Brooklyn Bridge Park was, at different times in its history, a site of bustling commerce, a transportation terminal, an entry point for immigrants, an artistic and activist center, and finally, a world-class park visited by millions every year.

To learn more about the dynamic history of the Brooklyn waterfront, visit Brooklyn Waterfront History, a joint project between Brooklyn Bridge Park and The Center for Brooklyn History. The site delves into the history, ecology, and sustainability of the waterfront. Visitors can access detailed information on points of interest, explore thematic tours, and examine The Center for Brooklyn History’s collection of related historical documents.

Beginning in the mid-1600s, boats and small ferries provided transportation along the East River and supported a growing trade economy. Launched in 1814, Robert Fulton’s steam-powered Fulton Ferry Company revolutionized travel and trade between Brooklyn and Manhattan. Railroad lines were installed at the Fulton Ferry Landing in the 1850s followed by construction of massive brick warehouses, most notably the Empire Stores warehouse. Smaller storage warehouses were built alongside the ferry landings and small “finger piers” jutted out from the land. The opening of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883 and the Manhattan Bridge in 1909 signaled the end of the ferry trade and a period of neglect of the Brooklyn waterfront. In the 1950s the construction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the replacement of the narrow finger piers with wider piers able to accommodate larger ships and cargo revitalized the area. However, trade technology and transportation advanced quickly, and by the 1970s, much of the Brooklyn waterfront was largely barren, decrepit, and abandoned. In 1984, and after the close of its cargo operations, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced plans to sell the piers for commercial development, which caused a re-evaluation of the site’s value as a public resource and sparked a community movement to reclaim the waterfront area for public use, and generated a decades-long citizens’ movement dedicated to mobilizing public support for a park. Initiated by local community residents and carried forward by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Coalition (now the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy), this grassroots campaign enlisted the endorsement and financial commitment of City and State officials to the park concept.

2006 Alex MacLean

2006 Alex MacLean

Project Development

Brooklyn Bridge Park operates under a mandate to be financially self-sustaining. While a small fraction of the Park’s operation and maintenance funds are collected from permits and concessions, the majority comes from development sites.

The development program was implemented after an in-depth analysis of potential locations, which focused on uses that would generate revenue sufficient to support park operations, minimize the size of the development footprint, and be compatible with the surrounding park and neighborhood uses. The selected locations maintain the protected view corridor from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and take advantage of the existing urban context by concentrating development closest to the Park’s main entrances, thus creating vital, active urban junctions at each.

The approved development program includes the sites and uses outlined below:

99 Plymouth Environmental Education Center
Boathouse in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Location: Brooklyn NY, Architect: Murphy Architecture Research Office
Visitor Center Boathouse
Historic Smokestack Building
St. Ann’s Warehouse
St. Ann’s Warehouse
St. Ann’s Warehouse
Empire Stores
Empire Stores
Historic Fireboat House
1 John Street
One Brooklyn Bridge Park
Real estate photography of Pierhouse at Brooklyn Bridge Park
One Hotel
Real estate photography of Pierhouse at Brooklyn Bridge Park
One Hotel and Pierhouse
Quay Tower and The Landing

Foundational Documents

John Street Development


The John Street development site is located at the Park’s northern edge in the John Street section of the Park. In July 2013, BBP selected a joint venture of Alloy Development and Monadnock Development to design and develop the John Street development site. The residential development includes approximately 50 residential units comprising a total of 96,000 square feet, 2,600 square feet of ground floor retail, and 1,750 square feet of cultural space. Construction began in summer 2014 and was completed in 2016. The cultural space was first occupied by the first annex of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Currently, the Brooklyn Public Library occupies the space as its Teen Tech Center.

Empire Stores & Tobacco Warehouse Development

The Empire Stores are a complex of seven contiguous four- and five-story historic warehouses containing of approximately 350,000 square feet. The warehouses were built between 1869 and 1885 and primarily used for coffee storage until they were abandoned in the 1960s. The warehouses were closed for over 50 years due to deteriorated buildings conditions. Redevelopment has adaptively reused the structures and allowed for a mix of commercial, retail, and office uses that complement the unique character of this industrial waterfront structure.

In summer 2013, a team led by Midtown Equities was designated to redevelop Empire Stores. Designed by Studio V Architecture, the proposed building plan features nearly 80,000 square feet of restaurant, retail, and event space and 300,000 square feet of office space. West Elm anchors the building by leasing both office and retail space; TimeOut Market located in the first and fifth floors offers 24,000sqft of dining options. Construction began in early 2014 and was completed in June 2016.

Conversion Documents

Environmental Assessment for the Conversion of the Empire Stores and Tobacco Warehouse

Pier 1 Development


Located at the Old Fulton Street entrance to the Park, the Pier 1 development site includes two parcels. The larger parcel to the north is approximately 65,000 square feet, and the smaller parcel is approximately 35,000 square feet. In 2012, BBP selected a joint venture of Starwood Capital and Toll Brothers City Living to develop the Pier 1 sites. Their development includes a 200-room Starwood hotel, approximately 100 residential units, 16,000 square feet of restaurant space, 2,000 square feet of retail space, a 6,000 square-foot fitness center, and 300 parking spaces. Construction began in spring 2013 and opened 2017.

The Pier 1 development occupies, approximately, the footprint of the National Cold Storage Warehouses, a complex of buildings that blocked views for over a century. The warehouses were demolished in 2010 to make way for parkland and the Pier 1 development that had been approved as part of the 2005 Brooklyn Bridge Park General Project Plan (GPP).

While many people do not recall the visual impact of the old warehouses, it was understood that from some vantage points, the Pier 1 development would obstruct views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan – particularly from the northern end of the Promenade and from the “Fruit Street Sitting Area,” which is not part of the Promenade.

The project comprises two parcels: Parcel A, the site of the taller hotel and residential buildings to the north; and Parcel B, the site of the smaller residential building.

Height Limit

Base Plan

The Brooklyn Heights Scenic View District (SV-1)

Fruit Street Sitting Area

Squibb Park


Public Review Process

Hurricane Sandy

Project Benefits

One Brooklyn Bridge Park Development

One Brooklyn Bridge Park (OBBP) is a residential condominium building. Completed in 2008, this building is a converted 1,000,000+ square foot warehouse building located along Furman Street just south of Joralemon Street. The building includes over 440 residential units, approximately 80,000 square feet of ground floor retail, and over 500 parking spaces.

Pier 6 Development


Located at Atlantic Avenue, the main southern entrance to the Park, the Pier 6 development site comprises two parcels, each roughly 10,000 square feet in area. On June 7, 2016, the BBP Board of Directors voted to approve a joint venture of RAL Development Services and Oliver’s Realty Group to develop two residential buildings at the site. The last of the Park’s five development sites approved in the 2005 GPP, the Pier 6 development will ensure the long-term financial stability of Brooklyn Bridge Park, provide affordable housing, and create hundreds of union jobs. Streetscape upgrades enhance the Park experience and create a welcoming gateway. Construction was completed in 2019.

Other Projects Approvals & Presentations

Jay Street Development

Marine Infrastructure

Planning Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn Bridge Park is the result of extensive planning and community advocacy for many decades.

In 1998, the Downtown Brooklyn Waterfront Local Development Corporation was created to undertake a public planning process for what would become Brooklyn Bridge Park. The result was the September 2000 Illustrative Master Plan, which presented a conceptual framework for the waterfront park.

On May 2, 2002, Governor George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) dedicating State and City funding for park construction and the creation of Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation (BBPDC) to oversee its design and construction. Importantly, the MOU mandated that the Park be financially self-sufficient in its ongoing maintenance and operations, with long-term funding provided by revenue-generating development. The Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy transformed its mission from advocacy to support and became the primary public programming partner for the Park.

In 2004, BBPDC hired landscape architects Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) to lead an intensive planning process and prepared a master plan for the Park. In 2005, the  the Master Plan was released, the  Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was completed, and the General Project Plan was approved (and subsequently modified in 2006, 2010, and 2013). Construction began in February 2008.

In March 2010, BBPDC opened the first section of the Park to the public at Pier 1, and later that year, BBPDC transferred responsibility for planning, building, maintaining, and operating the Park to Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (BBP), the not-for-profit corporation with a mission to provide an exceptional public space that connects people, nature, and the waterfront through inclusive, innovative, and sustainable management, and design. Since 2010, BBP has opened areas of the Park to the public, as follows:

Designing Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn Bridge Park extends 1.3 miles along the East River on a defunct cargo shipping and storage complex, adjacent to two thriving neighborhoods (Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO) and offers unparalleled viewsheds to the fabled Lower Manhattan skyline. The ambitious park design sought to transform this environmentally-hostile site into a thriving civic landscape while preserving the dramatic experience of the industrial waterfront.

The Park’s lush lawns, young trees, and beautiful flowers created a robust landscape and brought nature to this former industrial site. “Urban junctions” at key entry points provide a transition between the Park and adjacent neighborhoods enabled public access to the long, narrow

The Park introduces variety to a previously monofunctional industrial waterfront. Unlike other waterfront parks, where visitors remain perched above the water, The Park encourages close interaction with the water: Diverse edge types reveal the dynamic nature of New York Harbor, and salt marshes, boat ramps, beaches, and waterfront promenades provide unique opportunities.

Sustainability is, in part, driven by the concept of “structural economy”—the careful coordination of design and existing structural conditions. A stormwater recycling system supports the Park’s irrigation needs, and the Park makes extensive use of salvaged wood, reclaimed granite from the Willis Avenue and Roosevelt Island Bridges, and fill salvaged from the MTA’s East Side Access project. The structural “skeletons” of some pier sheds define play areas, provide shelter, and support lighting and sport nets (see Piers 2 and 5).

10 Years of Brooklyn Bridge Park

Future Park

Pier 1 Entrance Renovation, Spring 2023 – Summer 2024

After more than 10 years of Park use, the entrance to Brooklyn Bridge Park at Pier 1 is being re-designed to better serve the millions of summer visitors. After engaging with consultants, the Park’s original designers, and community members, a plan to renovate the Pier 1 entrance has been finalized.

The Pier 1 entrance will be renovated to become the grand entrance, meeting point, and urban oasis this popular destination needs! The newly designed area will provide an entrance into the Park that will better circulate pedestrian and bike traffic and will provide a shaded space where visitors can meet, regroup, or take in the bustling scenery in the Park and on the river. Renovations will include a new LEED Gold concession building complete with permanent public restrooms.

During construction, Pier 1 and the entirety of Brooklyn Bridge Park will remain open. For everyone’s safety and enjoyment, please follow all signage related to any temporary detours and directives to dismount bicycles.

A conceptual drawing of the concession and public restroom building at the Pier 1 Entrance




Squibb Park Pool: 

Brooklyn Bridge Park Announces Plans to Build a Permanent Pool. Press Release, June 1, 2018. 

Community Design Workshop: Pool Talks. September 2018

Park Awards

Park Awards


participated in environmental education programs



Days Open Per Year



Trees in the park


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