Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) and Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy (Conservancy) celebrate the conclusion of the 2023 season. This past season nearly 5 million visitors enjoyed Brooklyn Bridge Park and took part in hundreds of Conservancy-led recreational, cultural, volunteer, and environmental education programs along the waterfront.
AT BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK
- In July, construction to redesign the Pier 1 Entrance began. The reconfigured space will create a grand entrance, visitor meeting point, and include a shaded urban oasis for the millions of annual park visitors. The newly designed area will improve pedestrian and cyclist circulation, add a vehicle drop off area, and include a new LEED Gold building for a food and drink concession and provide much needed permanent public restrooms.
- Park concessions – Fornino, Pilot, OddFellows Ice Cream Co., and Luke’s Lobster – continued to offer a selection of food and beverage in the Park. Two new concessions opened this year, both at Fulton Ferry Landing – Van Leeuwen Ice Cream in the Historic Fireboat Station and High Tide, a seasonal seafood bar and restaurant. The Roller Skating Rink at Pier 2 welcomed nearly 50,000 skaters.
- Glide at Brooklyn Bridge Park, a seasonal ice rink, opened in November at Emily Warren Roebling Plaza beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. As the first ice rink at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Glide delivers a long-awaited winter activity at the park.
- Brooklyn Public Library opened a new Teen Tech Center at 1 John Street in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Teen Tech Center, open for teenagers ages 13-18, provides an interactive learning environment where teen visitors can drop in for a visit or attend programmed events and classes. The Center provides space where teens can experiment with technology, find homework help, socialize with peers, and meet tech professionals; or find access to musical instruments, a 3D printer, a sewing machine, video games, arts material and more.
- Brooklyn Bridge Park also welcomes the Museum of Food and Drink to its lineup of cultural attractions in the Park. MOFAD will bring the world of food to life through exhibits that can be tasted, touched, and smelled at Empire Stores in Spring 2024.
ART & CULTURE
- Public Art Fund debuted an exhibit by artist Nicholas Galanin at Empire Fulton Ferry. The installation, In every language there is Land / / En cada lengua hay una Tierra, displays a steel sculpture reflecting on the continued legacy of colonization and occupation of land, water, and life. The exhibit is on display until March 10, 2024.
- Photoville Festival installed over 30 photography exhibitions, offered artist-led walking tours, and hosted storytelling workshops at Emily Warren Roebling Plaza for two weeks in June for the twelfth year at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
- Wimbledon: The Hill in New York, a Wimbledon tennis match watch party returned to Pier 6 in July for the second year of livestreaming the championship finals. The three day event attracted more than 3,000 attendees.
- New York Road Runners again hosted the RBC Brooklyn Half Pre-Party Presented by New Balance, where more than 25,000 runners visited Pier 2 over the span of three days in May to kick-off the marathon celebrations.
- The MetOpera returned to Pier 1 at Brooklyn Bridge Park as part of its Summer Series of free outdoor recitals in all five boroughs.
- The New York Transit Museum’s beloved Bus Festival again offered transportation enthusiasts the opportunity to step aboard its vintage fleet at Emily Warren Roebling Plaza to celebrate more than 80 years of New York City surface transit history.
The Conservancy presented a wide variety of arts, cultural, and performance events. Highlights included:
- Summer Fridays took place the first Friday of the summer months, bringing the Pier 3 Terrace to life with live music and performances taking place through sunset. Presented in partnership with community hub Friends And Lovers, attendees celebrated New York’s Afro-Latin roots with Super Yamba, DJ Woof, and Mamacana; explored funk and soulful vibes with Brass Queens, Fried Dynamite: Run P. x Nina Vicious and Shake! with Monk One & DJ Prestige; and celebrated 50 years of hip-hop in NYC with Grand Wizzard Theodore and DJ Boogie Blind.
- Big Summer Get Down got visitors dancing and grooving on the waterfront at Pier 3 Plaza across two outdoor dance parties. Herbert Holler and the Freedom Party kicked off the first event on June 17, and legendary DJ Chuck Chillout kept the energy flowing on August 19.
- Waterfront Dance Socials provided introductory dance classes of two distinct styles under the Brooklyn Bridge at Emily Warren Roebling Plaza. On July 15, NYC’s only queer and trans-centered salsa band Las Mariquitas performed as dance instructor Luca Diaz led an introductory “on-2” salsa class. On August 16, Jeff Selby taught new style hustle with a DJ curating the vibe to the moves.
- In May, Brooklyn Academy of Music’s DanceAfrica Community Workshop provided a hands-on all-ages workshop led by BAM teaching artist Dánice Jones, sharing fundamentals of Ghanaian movement and music at Pier 6 Liberty Lawn.
- Brooklyn Americana Music Festival returned to Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park for its 9th annual celebration on June 24. The all-day festival celebrated Pride and featured music from local and touring LGBTQ+ artists.
- The Conservancy’s Open Studios Residency welcomed Artists-in-Residence KEIGWIN + COMPANY to dance in the Park this season. They developed Rhapsody, a community dance work developed with members of the public in Brooklyn Bridge Park, culminating in final performances presented in late July, accompanied by live music by William Catanzaro and CHAIN.
RECREATION & FITNESS
Approximately 14,500 participants joined fitness and recreation events on the waterfront in Brooklyn Bridge Park this year. The Conservancy’s popular Waterfront Workouts series, offered from May through September, drew roughly 3,500 attendees to its weekly fitness classes: Zumba and Core and Flexibility Training with Dodge YMCA; Amp’d with Chelsea Piers Fitness; and Sunset Yoga with Abhaya Yoga. On June 20, Abhaya Yoga led a special class for International Day of Yoga, providing an inspirational evening with an inclusive yoga class and meditation, accompanied by live music.
Provided in partnership with Brooklyn Bridge Boathouse, free public kayaking brought over 6,000 paddlers out on the water. Affordable Conservancy soccer and volleyball leagues remained popular with strong registration across the seasons. Youth basketball clinics led by KING Hoops offered free dribbling, shooting, and teamwork skills for kids aged 7-17.
SIGNATURE CONSERVANCY EVENTS
The season kicked off with the exciting return of Lift Off: A Kite Festival on Saturday, May 13, drawing over 5,000 attendees. The family-friendly festival took over Pier 5, providing a unique opportunity for kite-flying in Brooklyn Bridge Park, while also celebrating S.T.E.A.M concepts, Caribbean music and culture, and outdoor activities.
The Conservancy welcomed over 32,000 guests to their outdoor film series Movies With A View, presented on Thursday evenings in July and August. Featuring the theme “We Are Family” this season showed a wide range of films celebrating family and relationships in all of their diverse forms. Titles included E.T. Extra Terrestrial, Smoke Signals, Top Gun, Psycho, Goodfellas, Despicable Me, and Everything Everywhere All At Once. Family-favorite feature Despicable Me and Public Choice Vote winner Little Women were both unfortunately canceled due to rain. Partners provided pre-show entertainment, with food and drink sold by Time Out Market vendors, short films curated by BAM, DJ sets provided by Brooklyn Radio, and free bike valet by Transportation Alternatives.
Over 1,500 gathered to celebrate the 11th annual Hindu Lamp Ceremony at Pebble Beach, with a traditional Hindu Aarti ceremony performed by Aeilushi Mistry, remembering loved ones, reflecting on community, and expressing gratitude to the river.
Throughout the season, Waterfront Walks provided free walking tours led by volunteer Conservancy docents every Sunday from late May through October, covering the history of Brooklyn waterfront, the sustainable design of Brooklyn Bridge Park’s, and how the Park came to life. Walking tours also expanded to include new Sunset Waterfront Walks, offered on the first and third Tuesday of each month, which was well received with great popularity.
The programming season closed out with the Conservancy’s annual Harvest Festival on October 21. A rainy start gave way to a gorgeous fall afternoon, with the Conservancy and community partners providing arts, crafts, and activities for all to enjoy and celebrate the changing of the season – and official end of the programming season at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
EDUCATION & ENVIRONMENT
Over the course of the year to date, the Conservancy’s Environmental Education Center has welcomed over 12,000 education program participants. So far, this has included:
- 5,500+ students and day campers attended in-person and virtual classes
- 6,000+ visitors explored the Environmental Education Center
- 1,000+ participants enjoyed public education programs
Public education programs included Citizen Science fishing clinics, teaching the basics of rod and reel fishing in a catch-and-release format; Public Seining introducing visitors to the biodiversity of the East River while catching-and-releasing aquatic creatures including fish, jellyfish, and crabs; and education talks and special events.
Over 40 high school students from across NYC learned about environmental stewardship through the Conservancy’s impactful TIDES program (Teens Interested In and Dedicated to Environmental Stewardship), which continues to grow year over year.
In giving back to the community, 596 volunteers committed over 3,455 hours to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Individual volunteers helped with horticulture, Park maintenance and cleanup efforts, as well as event support ranging from Movies to Education Open Hours. Volunteer groups from 14 corporate organizations, as well as from numerous community and school groups, participated in an invigorating day of giving back, assisting with maintenance and horticulture projects.
With details of the 2024 season actively in development, the Park and the Conservancy look forward to growing popular programs, exploring and providing new programming, and continuing to offer a range of free art and cultural events, waterfront recreation, and volunteer and environmental education opportunities for all to enjoy.
Public support in 2023 for the Conservancy’s free public programs was provided by: NYC Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, NY Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, NY Assemblywoman JoAnne Simon, Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, NYC Council Member Rita Joseph, NYC Council Member Darlene Mealy, NYC Council Member Lincoln Restler, and the Brooklyn Delegation of the New York City Council. Programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts. The Conservancy is also grateful to the thousands of individuals and corporations who generously support our arts and culture, recreation, and education programming in Brooklyn Bridge Park through sustained donations and financial support.
ABOUT BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK
The Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation develops, capitally improves, maintains, and fully operates the Park as a 501(c) not-for-profit, controlled by the City of New York. Brooklyn Bridge Park, one of the largest and most significant public projects to be built in New York City in a generation, has transformed a once dilapidated industrial waterfront into a vibrant and thriving 85-acre civic landscape. The self-sustaining park was designed by the award-winning firm of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. and features expansive lawns, rolling hills, waterfront promenades, innovative playgrounds, a bike and pedestrian greenway, sports facilities, and much more.
ABOUT BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK CONSERVANCY
Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy plays a vital role in creating and energizing this community-focused, world-class urban oasis on the Brooklyn waterfront. A 501(c)3 non-profit, we bring this unique park space to life with more than 400 innovative and engaging educational, cultural, fitness and recreational programs each year. Our free and low-cost events create new and exciting opportunities for tens of thousands of NYC residents and visitors to learn, grow, and experience all that Brooklyn Bridge Park has to offer.