Visions of a Grander Grand Army Plaza


One vision: Grand Army Plaza’s fountain and arch connected to Prospect Park.

The summary of the brainstorming done at last month’s placemaking workshop of the Grand Army Plaza Coalition (GAPco) is now available, and it’s full of rich possibilities for this vitally important yet underused space. Download the PDF here.

The DOT’s recently announced plans for pedestrian- and bicyclist-friendly improvements give some official momentum to the effort to remake the plaza, but the GAPco report opens up a much broader range of possibilities for the plaza’s future. Those include everything from more benches to an expanded Greenmarket to "shake shack"-type food vendors.

This kind of creative, community-driven thinking could turn Grand Army Plaza from a disjointed sea of traffic into a well-integrated and vibrant public resource. It’s well worth reading the whole report, but here are some of the broad overall recommendations:

  • Conduct short-term improvements. Take the most feasible suggestions from the workshop and start experimenting. Start showing people the future of Grand Army Plaza can start now.
  • Close the gap. Connect the arch with Prospect Park by extending the entrance plaza to the arch (using paving, etc.).
  • Improve access to the plaza and connect it into a broader circulation system for pedestrians, bicyclists, automobiles and transit users. Balance the user needs.
  • Create clear pathways to the "center" across the berms. Create access (visual and/or pedestrian) through the berms. Sight lines and physical connection will increase presence and use of arch and fountain.
  • Relocate the "entrance" to Prospect Park to the north side of Grand Army Plaza. Create a symbolic entrance on the north side of the plaza that marks the beginning of Prospect Park at Grand Army Plaza. Treat this area as a part of the park rather than a traffic circle.
  • Connect the west berm area to the arch and fountain by converting the west side of  the inner circle from traffic lanes to a pedestrian plaza.
  • Partner with local institutions. For example, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden could display rotating horticultural displays, the library could host events in the plaza, and the zoo could partner with the Brooklyn Children’s Museum to host an event oriented to children in the plaza.
  • Formalize GAPco’s role as an advisor and manager of the public process.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Pedestrian and Bike Improvements Coming to Grand Army Plaza

|
Current configuration Proposed changes Here’s a look at the proposal the DOT gave to Brooklyn’s Community Board 6 on March 29th regarding safety improvements at Grand Army Plaza. The plan’s highlights include: Three new concrete islands (5,900 square feet) 2,300 square feet of new landscaping Removing a travel lane on Eastern Parkway Providing a Class […]

Philadelphia Pedestrian Plaza Welcomed by 98% of Neighbors

|
Inspired by New York City, Philadelphia has created its own pedestrian plaza program. Unfortunately, Philadelphia’s ambitions have so far been hindered by some pretty zealous restrictions, like one that would require 100 percent of adjacent property owners to agree to the change. Nevertheless, Geoff Kees Thompson at This Old City reports that a new pedestrian […]

Andy Wiley-Schwartz Starts at DOT on Monday

|
Department of Transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan continues to assemble an impressive management team. Following in the footsteps of Bruce Schaller and Jon Orcutt, Project for Public Spaces vice president and transportation program director Andy Wiley-Schwartz is heading over to 40 Worth Street where he will be reporting to Deputy Commissioner Schaller at DOT’s new Office […]