opinion: TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING

This area of modern-day Brooklyn is the site of the original Dutch settlement of Breukelen, which would one day give its name to the entire borough.  It is a complicated stretch of land where neighborhoods, highways, cultures, land-uses, subways, and bridges collide in a twisting mess of brick, concrete, and people.  Brooklyn Heights, often referred to as America's First Suburb, makes its home here.  The steamboat Nassau left from this shore in 1814 to establish the first reliable connection between Manhattan and Long Island.  Later, in 1833, the Brooklyn Bridge would launch across the sky above the ferry landing to solidify the connection between islands.  It is home to Borough Hall, the center of Kings County government, as well as several institutions of higher learning such as Brooklyn Law School, Long Island University, and the NYU Polytech School of Engineering.  The Brooklyn Navy Yard, which once produced scores of vessels like the famed USS Maine, USS Arizona, and USS Missouri, now serves as a center of light industrial and manufacturing.  The area has a history of innovation, a history the current borough leaders are looking to build upon for the future.

THE "TECH TRIANGLE" AND ITS PHYSICAL BARRIERS           IMAGE:   BKMAG.COM

THE "TECH TRIANGLE" AND ITS PHYSICAL BARRIERS           IMAGE:   BKMAG.COM

Dubbed the "Tech Triangle," it is an effort to solidify the burgeoning tech industry talent growing in the area, from "creative" tech compaines to industrial tech companies.  The big challenge to 'solidifying' this triangle, is that it has been ripped apart and divided by many years of development.  There are very real, physical barriers which separate the points of the tech triangle; from the ramps to the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge, to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway slicing through, to poorly designed developments.

The Brooklyn Strand is a concept by WXY Studio to unify the tech triangle through a series (or strand) of open spaces.  It has been a generally well-received plan.  It is easy to understand why, as redeveloping several underused sites into public amenities certainly sounds like a positive for the neighborhoods.  However, is there a negative to so much open space?

THE BROOKLYN STRAND PLAN           IMAGE:   WXYSTUDIO.COM

Parks and green space are an easy thing to sell to the public.  Who doesn't want more green space?  The problem is, more green space doesn't necessarily mean better green space.  Sometimes less truly is more.  A park requires people to activate it; to make it lively and safe.  A park without people can easily become unkempt and unsafe.

One of the many reasons Central Park is so successful is that it brings in people from across Manhattan island and beyond.  Outside of Central Park, there is not much green space to be found.  So, the multi-million population of Manhattan funnels into its one great park.

The newly developed (and still developing) Brooklyn Bridge Park is an 85 acre park stretching over a mile of Brooklyn waterfront around the tech triangle.  It has been wildly successful in its early years, drawing huge crowds thanks to its scenic greens overlooking the skyline of downtown Manhattan.  With this park, the tech triangle is not starved for green space.  Plopping a layer of grass over the scars of poor development will likely not fix the problem.  What the tech triangle needs is to repair the damaged urban fabric.  More buildings, ironically, will create better green space; providing the people necessary to activate the abundance of already beautiful parks the tech triangle currently boasts.  In the end, less open space is actually needed.