Fantasy Plans for Future New York

07/08/2009 4:00 AM |

Brooklyn: Brooklyn Terminal Market

Currently fairly inaccessible via public transportation (the closest subway stop is the L train’s Rockaway Parkway terminus), this massive, partially outdoor market set between Canarsie and East Flatbush is bisected by a largely unused industrial rail line that meets the subway tracks at the New Lots Avenue stop. Obviously, a tramway shuttle will be set up in the interim and eventually the L can be extended by two stops to end up at the market. When the city finally realizes it needs a cross-Brooklyn subway line, that quiet industrial track will form its core, bringing folks from Sunset Park, Bay Ridge and East New York to the cheap wholesale market in less than half an hour. That rail bed will also be outfitted with adjacent bike paths and walking trails for those living nearby. Accordingly, the market’s grounds will gradually become less car-centric — at present it’s basically one half warehouses and one half parking lots.

Firstly, an elaborate eco-canopy will go up over the entire site, with tiny, movable solar panels that adjust to the position of the sun and can be controlled to let through more or less light. Also, vertical farms lining the whole site will turn the market into a green cube that generates its own produce and electricity. As shoppers and vendors increase in number, adjacent abandoned lots will allow for expansion and diversification. Eventually, a new state-of-the-art zero-waste kitchen facility with community composting onsite will accommodate the City University of New York’s new Brooklyn Terminal Market Culinary School. This new institution consolidates CUNY’s two current food services programs into a competitive school that also offers community training, classes and public workshops. Finally, community gardens, a performance space and playing fields will turn the Terminal into much more than a grocery-shopping destination.

The Bronx: Port Morris Terminal

This one’s a deliberate exercise in reverse engineering the evil that Robert Moses wrought. Blocked off from the much larger and more dysfunctional neighborhood of Mott Haven to the north, Port Morris is basically The Bronx’s Red Hook: a little wild, mostly industrial and separated from the closest subway station (the Cypress Avenue stop on the 6) by a massive highway courtesy Mr. Moses. Its old ferry landing, picturesque Port Morris Terminal, is where Long Island Sound, the Harlem River and East River meet. It features a beautiful view towards Rikers Island and North Brother Island — the super-creepy abandoned smallpox hospital that replaced Roosevelt Island’s pretty creepy Riverside Hospital — which were two of the destinations served most regularly by its ferries between 1923 and 1969. That historical island destination will be refurbished and made accessible via kayak, peddle-boat and zip line as part of the new Port Morris Terminal Park.

Rusty from decades of disuse, the goal post-shaped terminal structures look very similar to the old ferry landing at Gantry State Park in Long Island City. This hypothetical park is also a no-brainer for already having a major piece of public art onsite. A monumental Richard Serra sculpture entitled “Bellamy” stands disassembled on the site, its curbed, rusted walls blending nearly seamlessly into the surrounding post-industrial wastes. That will have to be put back together and made the centerpiece of the new green space. New pedestrian piers jutting out into the river will allow for scenic views and fishing for those who like their fish toxic. The two terminal structures will be renovated and outfitted with wind turbines and, once the park gains in popularity, giant swings that can be hooked up to the turbines, supplementing wind power with human-generated energy. Water taxi service will make the new park accessible to crowds coming from beyond the Bronx, and a tram will connect Port Morris to the Cypress Avenue subway stop in Mott Haven. As people move back to the area, that tram can be extended and water taxi service increased to give the area’s commuters more transportation options.

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