Thursday, July 26, 2012

My Favorite Place in New York: The Granite Prospect at Brooklyn Bridge Park

Granite Prospect at night

Over at my other diversion, Tuna Day, we've kept up a conceit known as "Open Request Sunday," which is pretty much just as it sounds.  Loyal followers take turns sending in song requests (or more often, getting strong-armed into submitting songs), which are posted on the blog every Sunday.  It has turned into a great way to incorporate a little more diversity into the rotation, as the requests often represent music I would never even consider posting to the blog (Norwegian electronica?!). 

Why shouldn't we do something similar at Boxed Out?  So here it is... "My Favorite Place in New York."  No rules, except that the place must be located somewhere in the Five Boroughs, of course.  Today, I'll kick things off.  Then, one of you can take the stand, patiently explaining that Brooklyn is "vastly overrated (you hipster/yuppie/bohemian scum!)" and that--if you really think about it--the Society of Illustrators is way better/cooler/quirkier than any stupid waterfront park.  Pretty soon, all 8 million people here will have weighed in with their own personal takes!  Okay, okay.  First things first...

There's no experience in New York quite like that of standing at the top of the Granite Prospect.  It's part Spanish Steps, part Brooklyn Promenade, with the exhilaration of the top of Rockefeller Center.  While it has been lovingly dubbed "The Stairway to Nowhere," it acts more as an amphitheater, a playground and a picnic spot.  Last weekend, it even hosted the performance of an operaWhen approached from the east, it forms a stunning, expansive vista, revealed after a brief and slightly inclined procession through an intimate path enveloped by dense foliage.  The stairs sweep down, and somewhere the ground stops and the water begins.  Built from granite salvaged from the Roosevelt Island Bridge reconstruction project, the materiality of the stairs feels rough and rich, massive but broken-in and familiar as an old baseball mitt.  Designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the extensive Brooklyn Bridge Park has emphatically reconnected Brooklyners to 1.3 miles of previously unused waterfront land.  This grand staircase, as it opens up to the river and the skyline, and Governors Island and the Statue of Liberty beyond, reinforces the recent notion of the water as the "Sixth Borough" that ties the city together.  For me, the Granite Prospect is a paragon of so much of what is great about New York: the invigorating movement of its people, the sanctuary of its abundant parks, the majesty of its skyline, and the waterways that birthed it and serve as its common thread.

Bird's eye view of Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 1 from the West (background image via Bing Maps)

Granite Prospect at Dusk

A picnic at dusk on the granite steps

Morning view of Lower Manhattan

So all of you current and former New Yorkers--or even out-of-towners!--consider this a call for requests.  If you have an idea, just send me photos, links, description, and whatever else you would like to explain your choice.  Hopefully we can turn this into a regular feature... and maybe someday a visitor's guide :)

How to get to the Granite Prospect:

Take the A or C train to High Street (the first station in Brooklyn), then walk northwest (towards the Brooklyn Bridge) along Cadman Plaza West/Old Fulton Street.  When you get to Fulton Landing, the entrance to the park at Pier 1 is on the left.  Head to the water and take a left.  The staircase will be at the south end of the pier.

The 2, 3 and F trains also stop nearby. 

1 comment:

  1. Too bad they planted tall growing greens between the stairs and the bridges views...blocking the view! So what is the point!? Was much nicer when building and you had wide open view of both bridges out there!!