Dilapidated piers reach past the steely blue railings of Erie Basin Park like phantom limbs. Monumental decommissioned cranes loom over shoppers waiting to return to Manhattan via ferry with their space-conscious apartment wares in billowing plastic totes.
Where private enterprise meets public space, modern design meets relics of Brooklyn’s industrial past. The 22-acre swath of waterfront occupied by the faltering Todd Shipyard was zoned for heavy industry. Ikea needed to convince the planning commissioner to rezone the area before the big-box retailer could set up shop selling compact, minimalist furniture to urban apartment dwellers. After a long, heartfelt, and ultimately failed battle to save the Todd Shipyards from destruction, Ikea was granted the land on the condition that it create an homage to what it was paving over.
The resulting park, designed by Lee Weintraub Landscape Architecture, saved everything it could from the piers themselves to ropes and tools left behind by the former tenants. A row of foliage marks off the esplanade from the 1,400-car parking lot, guiding the visitor’s view out into the Erie Basin itself, built in 1864 to play host the the innumerable ships that passed through the New York Harbor. Possibly the largest when it was built, the Erie Basin was the official terminus of the Erie Canal.
Stop by to see local muralist Chris Soria (see the place entry for Louis Valentino Jr. Park) creating a masterpiece in front of your eyes.