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Williamsburg Waterfront Fire Could Reignite Park Plans, Including Museum

Warehouse fire on the Williamsburg waterfront  (photograph by Jack Zalium, via Flickr)
Warehouse fire on the Williamsburg waterfront (photo by Jack Zalium, via Flickr)

The warehouse still smoldering on the Williamsburg waterfront may draw new attention to this East River–aligned stretch of Brooklyn, where city officials have long planned for an extensive park and small museum. The massive CitiStorage facility that caught fire on its 11-acre property is part of what the Parks Department hopes to acquire for the long-awaited Bushwick Inlet Park, planned to stretch from Williamsburg up through Greenpoint in a continuous greenway.

As Gothamist noted, citing a 2014 New York Times article, the CitiStorage site is part of six parcels the city would need to finish the park plan, which started with the area between North 9th Street and 12th Street off of Kent Avenue, where a park headquarters designed by Kiss + Cathcart, Architects opened in 2013, its green roof sloping down to a soccer field overlooking a skyline view. That same Times article notes that one of those parcels is the long-intended home of the Greenpoint Monitor Museum.

USS Monitor in 1862 (via United States Naval History & Heritage)
USS Monitor in 1862 (via United States Naval History & Heritage)

The USS Monitor was a Civil War ship commissioned by the Union Navy, the first of its kind to be clad in iron. It was built at Continental Iron Works in Greenpoint, and it’s at that site that George J. Weinmann and his wife Janice Lauletta-Weinmann have planned for the museum since Motiva Enterprises announced it would donate the waterfront property in December of 2003. Lucia De Stefani with NY City Lens reported last April that the Parks Department was “moving toward negotiations with Motiva Enterprises” in regards to the acre of property. Although plans for the museum have been reported as part of the park, in a 2013 New York Times article the Weinmanns stated that a threat of eminent domain from the park plan has hindered their ability to raise money to complete the museum.

As of now, their website shows an open, snowy lot facing one of the still-industrial zones of the Bushwick Inlet, the skyline of Manhattan just visible beyond the metal tanks. There’s been an increase in interest for the Monitor since its 150th anniversary in 2012, but more significant is a growing appreciation in Brooklyn for the borough’s nautical history, including through the revamping of the Brooklyn Navy Yard with its own museum. However, it remains unclear what the future holds for the museum — what the ultimate future of the Bushwick Inlet Park will be as the area becomes more and more part of a residential neighborhood, and as the city looks to the shore as a potential resource after its long years of overgrowth and industry.

The undeveloped region of Bushwick Inlet (photograph by Inga, via Flickr)
The undeveloped region of Bushwick Inlet (photo by Inga, via Flickr)
The developed section of Bushwick Inlet Park looking to Manhattan (photograph by ichsageuchmalwas, via Flickr)
The developed section of Bushwick Inlet Park looking to Manhattan (photo by ichsageuchmalwas, via Flickr)
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