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Alexandra Lange

(Women and) Children First


A pet project of mine is collecting ways the city could be made more child-friendly, not in an entitled-parent, breastfeeding-everywhere way, but in a common-sense, better-infrastructure-benefits-all way. More public bathrooms would make city life easier. Fewer revolving-gate entrances to the subway would make city life easier. More subway elevators would make city life easier. I want to write an article surveying the globe and highlighting the 10 things New York should do, especially now that everyone with offspring isn’t leaving. More parks, of more shapes and sizes, benefit all with more greenery, more places to sit, more things to do. If I had to guess at the heaviest users of urban parks I would guess marathoners and children (Jane Jacobs has excellent parks analysis in Death and Life). On the weekends, we sometimes go to three a day, early morning, morning, afternoon. I feel lucky I have three within blocks to choose between.

We are about to gain one more: Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park. As part of Sunday’s Atlantic Antic the BBP Development Corporation offered quick tours of the “adventure playground” due to open this December or January (it is in the foreground above, everything past the low building is but a dream). It seems like more work has been done on the piers in the past nine months than in the 20 years the park has been under discussion. The endless discussion and continuing funding controversy meant that many thought this park would never happen. Piers 2, 3 and 5 (4 is underwater) are still not funded. But this part is, and I suspect the parents of Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and the Columbia Waterfront are going to go nuts for the new park. There’s topography, for one thing, a slide mountain and wooden ampitheater seating, like landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates’s Teardrop Park. There will be a sandbox with movable playhouse parts (my current go-to playground has a pink-roofed Little Tikes playhouse someone left behind, and it is the most used item there). And there will be a watercourse, maybe something like this one at the Montshire Museum. Whether it works as they say remains to be seen; some Brooklyn Bridge Park opponents have Teardrop Park in their Hall of Shame. And there’s still the matter of the future condominium tower looming next door…

Leading with the playground is a clever move on BBPDC’s part. They need neighborhood support (financial as well as fans) to get the park done, and half a pier full of satisfied and photogenic customers can only help. It seems a little crazy to open in the dead of winter, but I know I will be out there, in my parka, some Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m. Kids need to run, whatever the calendar says.



Posted in: Environment, Public + Private

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Alexandra Lange Alexandra Lange is an architecture and design critic, and author of Writing about Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities. (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in The Architect’s Newspaper, Architectural Record, Dwell, Metropolis, Print, New York Magazine and The New York Times.

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