Brooklyn's Waterfront on the Endangered List

 Municipal Arts Society, 6/2007

Yesterday’s joint press conference between the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Municipal Art Society to announce the Brooklyn waterfront’s inclusion on this year’s 11 Most Endangered list at the PowerHouse Arena was the big news for Dumbo and Brooklyn’s waterfront. The opinions span from “tear down the whole waterfront and rebuild it. There are no structures worthy of preservation efforts” to “the waterfront structures are part of Brooklyn’s history and tearing them down will ruin what is unique to Brooklyn.” From a ‘preservationist’:

“Oh come on, Manhattan is Manhattan, and Brooklyn is Brooklyn. The history of both boroughs has dictated the skyline. For over 100 years commerce, businesses and the running of NYC have been steered to Manhattan. Most of the money that has ever been spend in NYC has gone to Manhattan. Brooklyn has spent the last century being relegated to second class citizenship and working class industry, at worst, with beautiful suburb-like enclaves for the captains of industry to escape to, at best. It is unrealistic to expect a similar waterline, or downtown. I for one, am very glad they are quite different.”

This is not an all or nothing issue. We can preserve some buildings and structures while developing public spaces or arts/cultural centers. Comments from Brownstoner suggest that there are examples from other cities we could learn from:

Vancouver’s Granville Island, also comes to mind to maintain architecture of the past while creating a setting for arts, culture, commerce, and living. There is enough room for both preserving Brooklyn’s past and creating a modern waterfront.

{Brooklyn Waterfront Called Endangered Site, 14Jun2007, NY Times}
{National Trust for Historic Preservation}
{The Municipal Art Society of New York}
{Brooklyn’s Waterfront Gets Boost from Nat’l Trust, 14Jun2007, Brownstoner}
{National Trust Calls Brooklyn Waterfront “Endangered”, 14Jun2007, Gothamist}