Sunday, May 4, 2014

Before the BQE, Brooklyn Heights Had Backyards to the Waterfront

Here's the view of the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE) from Brooklyn Bridge Park.

A plaque embedded in the walkway of Brooklyn Bridge Park says that the Promenade and BQE "replaced warehouses, backyards and family homes." (The link listed on the plaque, seems to be new and was not in service when we checked it out.)

Robert Moses built the BQE and Brooklyn Heights Promenade in the 1950s. He originally wanted to run the highway right through the Heights, bisecting the neighborhood (like he did south of Atlantic Avenue). But Heights residents (including the Brooklyn Heights Association) managed to convince him to install the Promenade and run a cantilevered BQE underneath it instead.

In this compromise, however, they gave up their backyards.

The Brooklyn Historical Society posts a photo taken by John Jay Pierrepont of his backyard at 1 Pierrepont Place before there was a BQE. A stairway traverses the sloped grassy yard, down to the offices of the Pierrepont Stores.

Another photo shows the yards next to once-longer Montague Street, with the Pierrepont Greenhouses on the slope below Montague terrace.

The Historical Society says, "Many of the properties along Pierrepont Place enjoyed this aesthetically pleasing and direct route to the water."

While the yards are now gone, people once again have an "aesthetically pleaseing and direct route to the water" via the Squibb Bridge.

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