Yes, We're Open!
Public waterfront parkland in Williamsburg more than quadrupled this morning, with the 10 am opening of East River State Park.
Since 1974, going down to the river in Williamsburg has meant either visiting the 1.5 acre cul-de-sac at the foot of Grand Street, known as Grand Ferry Park, or crawling under a fence and awaiting a possible police summons for trespassing.
Years in the making, New York City's newest park, a humble two-block strip of East River frontage in Northside Williamsburg, adds 7.5 acres of grass, trees, and fascinating ruins of the former Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal - a rail yard cargo facility that bustled with trains, barges, and tugboats from 1875 to 1983.
For an occasion fairly momentous to the neighborhood, this morning's opening was very low-key. The gate was actually opened some time before ten o'clock as several park workers made final preparations along the shoreline. NY Times reporter Anthony Ramirez interviewed residents (and imnotsayin), as the steady trickle of early visitors explored the freshly-mowed fields and surveyed the spectacular view of midtown Manhattan.
There will undoubtedly be controversy to come: we've been clear on how we feel about the park's "part-time" status (NY State Parks has announced the park will be open weekends only, due to "staffing"). Hopefully this will change soon. Also, the State Park in DUMBO - Empire-Fulton Ferry Park - developed a reputation last summer for being tough on cyclists and militant on dusk closing hours. So far there's no rules posted at ERSP, but we're curious to see how skateboarders will be treated.
But today is a happy day: a day to celebrate a huge step in the right direction.
East River State Park is on Kent Avenue, between North 7th and North 9th Streets. Open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am until 8 pm.
East River State Park Opening Photoset [Flickr]
History of the park site as Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal [imnotsayin]