Delays for Artist-Designed Park at Brooklyn-Bound Bike Entrance to Manhattan Bridge

01/13/2012 3:43 PM |

Xu Bing, Stone Path (2008) in Dresden.
  • Xu Bing, “Stone Path” (2008) in Dresden.

The little triangle of elevated public space at the corner of Canal and Forsyth streets that cyclists entering and leaving Manhattan pass through at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge was, for many years, a vacant plot of gravel that was only ever used by homeless men—it was a full-fledged shantytown as recently as the 1990s—and has been fenced off since renovations on the span began last summer. But last year it was picked for a major redesign, which was to be selected by early 2012 and completed by early 2013, but of course those estimates have turned out to be off by about a year.

The artist selected to design the small park, Xu Bing, has only just begun working on the project due to previous commitments, which has led the Department of Transportation to push the estimated opening date back to the middle of 2014, DNAinfo reports.

In observance of the park’s place right at the center of Chinatown, Bing wants to plant weeping cherry trees in the park and adorn it with poetry scrawled in his signature “Square Word Calligraphy,” a hybrid script that resembles Chinese calligraphy but is actually in English. In addition to works and plantings by the artist, who splits his time between New York and Beijing, the park will host a small cafe, additional plantings, bicycle racks and movable chairs and tables.

The first phase of the redesign, expanding the sidewalk below on Forsyth Street to better accommodate vendors of a local market and, eventually, construct a new staircase and ramp up to the park, has already been completed. So, if you’re one of the 3,600 cyclists riding over the Manhattan Bridge every day—as the span averaged in 2011—your ride will one day be a lot prettier.

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