AMBI: (natural sounds and room tone go here)
TRACK: In the first part of this two part series, we learned about three immigrants and their view of the past and present climate around immigration in NYC. Today we will be exploring Brooklyn Bridge Park which is located on the piers near Brooklyn Heights. The park became available to the public in 2008 as it looked to be a fresh, new safe space for people to come and enjoy themselves. Welcome to the People and Places in NYC and I am your host Matthew Hull. In this episode, we will be hearing from two people, one is a worker named Herold who has recently started working there and the other is a member of the community named Shelton who has lived in Brooklyn Heights for a long time. I, first, caught up with Shelton to ask what it’s like being a part of the community with the park growing over the past few years. The first question I asked him was the frequency of his visits.
ACT: Shelton: I come here several times a week.
TRACK: He had his friend with him also but he was from Connecticut and didn’t want to be recorded. I, then, continue to ask him what it’s like on a typical day at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
ACT: Shelton: Well… you know, I- I assume you’ve been out here also. You know how it is in the summer, it’s like crazy, people cooking out and that kinda thing. Most-Most days you have it to yourself, like this right? So I would say… Where we live is on Warren Street between Hicks and Columbia and when it’s warm, people park their streets so that they can walk down here. There’s a lot of foot traffic, people making their way down Atlantic or whatever.
TRACK: As he talks, you can see the smile on Shelton’s face and the joy in his heart. You can really see what the park means to him. After explaining what it was like being a member of the community during the rise of the park, Shelton then goes on to estimate how much he has seen the park grow over the last 10 years.
ACT: Shelton: I-I think it’s got like 50% more popular year after year. It seems like the crowds are getting bigger. People coming down our street to get here. I’d say it’s more and more popular every time. It was kinda like the best kept secret for a while. And now I think it’s kinda like a destination for a lot of people.
TRACK: Not wanting to hold him up much longer due to the rain and the look on his friend’s face seemingly wanting to go, I, finally, asked Shelton to elaborate on what the park means not only to the community but also to him and his family throughout the years.
Track: Shelton: Well that’s a good question Matthew. I’ve lived here since 2005, over there right on Columbia. And so, we sorta saw this get built right? Before obviously when the-the park was down in Dumbo, there was that. But when we first moved to that apartment, now that’s 14 years ago. We didn’t have access to the water, uh- alright, cause it was just the piers. Just the industrial piers, right? We live in a small apartment, I have an 18 year old kid. He was, you know, that much younger, 14 years ago, whatever. So really this has kinda been our backyard since it’s been open, you know what I mean? Like without-with, in an apartment without a yard, all of sudden now we have all this to come to and barbecue and do that. So it’s been p-pretty meaningful for our family being cooped up in a little, you know, really dinky apartment.
TRACK: After this, we went on to exchange contact information as he told me he was an artist and a photographer here in NYC. As I stood over the pier, seemingly unable to get interviews, I turned and I looked and I see a standard golf cart driving. I waved it down and asked if they can stop for just a second to give me sort of a perspective on what it’s like being a maintenance worker. His name is Herold and he currently works as part of the park maintenance crew. I asked him to give his perspective of what Brooklyn Bridge Park means for Brooklyn as a whole.
ACT: Herold: Well to me, I think, Brooklyn as a whole, Brooklyn Bridge Park is the best part of brooklyn. One of the best parts of Brooklyn because this park itself, we have about five million visitors coming to this park every summer. Tourists, people in the neighborhood, people from my neighborhood, your neighborhood, want to come here and have a beautiful picnic, barbeque because we have the waterfront. There’s no other park with a waterfront in Brooklyn but us. Um, it’s always clean down here as you see it, right now. Everyday we clean this, everyday, seven days a week, two shifts per day, eight hours a day. So we have the cleanest and the best greenest park in the world. Well, in Brooklyn.
TRACK: Brooklyn Bridge Park is still growing and judging by the interviews in this episode, it will continue to be a staple in the community for years to come. As Shelton said, Brooklyn Bridge Park has been sort of a backyard for many people including myself. I went to school almost up the road at Packer Collegiate Institute where we utilized the park for soccer practice and other activities. From Smorasburg taking place, to celebrities coming to play basketball and soccer to the Volleyball court, Brooklyn Bridge Park has become an unexpected rock within Brooklyn and I fully expect it to grow and flourish throughout the years. For anyone listening to this podcast, I really recommend seeing the park for yourself. It is easily accessible by train such as the 2,3,4,5 or even the A,C,E. All it is, is a walk down Joralemon and you get to see the beauty of not only the neighborhood but the journey it takes to get to this park. As you walk along the park, you will have a lot of time to think, take in the environment and really see a new part of Brooklyn that you might have not seen before. I am your host Matthew Hull and I really hope you take a stroll down Brooklyn Bridge Park.