OHNY Wallabout Tour

2015

New Yorkers joined Architecture for Humanity New York volunteers on a walking tour of Park Avenue in Wallabout, Brooklyn, under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE). This neighborhood lies just south of the Brooklyn Navy Yard and is one of the earliest settlements in Brooklyn. Named Wallabout Bay after its acquisition from the native Canarsee by French-speaking Walloons from the Netherlands in the 17th Century, this area encompasses many of the changes Brooklyn has experienced over the last four hundred years. What were once 18th Century tobacco farms of the Dutch settlers gave way to industry and commerce. During the Revolutionary War, the area was the site of British prisoner-of-war ships whose American captives are now remembered by the Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument in nearby Fort Greene Park. The legacy of the Navy Yard, now a film, creative and tech-hub, is still evolving.

This tour considered the local history from the vantage of the BQE, which cuts an elevated swathe through the length of Wallabout. The BQE was begun by the Regional Plan Association in the 1930s, and completed by Robert Moses in 1964. Its mixed legacy is felt by New Yorkers who reside, work and travel through the bisected neighborhoods in its shadow. The tour considered the assets in addition to the challenges, with a focus on how neighbors perceive the space. The area has inspired residents, organizations and students to imagine new uses. Participants were also invited to share their own design visions.