Metro

NYC locals and skaters want the Brooklyn Banks back

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They can’t take it to the Banks.

Manhattan locals, skaters and a non-profit are fed up with the city’s glacial pace of repairs to the Brooklyn Bridge, which has fenced off nine acres of space for more than a decade — including a world-famous skate spot and a public basketball court.

“I don’t think the city has any awareness of just how vitally important the place is,” said Joe Ramone, 36, who runs the Save the Brooklyn Banks Instagram account. “It is more than just a ‘Skate Spot’. It was a home for so many.” 

The Brooklyn Banks is a legendary skating mecca that first gained popularity in the 1980s and was the stomping ground of renowned skaters like Harold Hunter and Eric Koston. The site was recreated in the 2003 video game “Tony Hawk’s Underground.”

Seaport and Two Bridges locals who’ve never heard of Tony Hawk want the Banks back too.

Charles-Etienne Camirand skates at the famed Brooklyn Banks skate park May 14, 2010 in New York City. The area beneath the Brooklyn Bridge has been beloved by skaters for decades and will be closing soon for up to four years as the city plans to use the land as a staging area for the renovation of the Brooklyn Bridge.
The area that’s now been fenced off in 2010 (top) vs. what it’s like in 2022 (bottom).
Mario Tama/Getty Images; Helayne Seidman

“There’s a lot for young children around here,” said Nadia Vogel, 78. “We have two playgrounds in the neighborhood, but the older kids don’t have much.”

Cara Galowitz, 57, called it “dead space” in its current condition.  

Andrew Goldfarb, 68, said he would like to see some of the space used for food, music and art. “Things that bring people together,” he said.

Brooklyn Bridge Manhattan:New York - Construction workers at work site under the Brooklyn Bridge in Lower Manhattan. The area was once a world known skate park called Brooklyn Banks (aka Red Brick Park).
The Brooklyn Banks is a legendary skating mecca that first gained popularity in the 1980s.
Helayne Seidman

“I just don’t want to see it replaced with tourist stuff,” said Guy Ursitti, 46, who’s lived in the neighborhood all his life. “It needs to be for the locals.”

Since 2010, the Brooklyn Banks have been closed for a series of DOT projects. First it was for painting. Now crews are repairing the stone arches by the bridge’s on-ramps. Many of the iconic and smooth bricks have been ripped up.  

“At this point we’re being held hostage by the DOT,” Aixa Torres of the Smith Houses said at Manhattan Community Board 3 meeting Thursday. 

Still in its research phase, the non-profit, Brooklyn Bridge Manhattan, is seeking input, support and public and private funding to bring back the skate spot and potentially convert other areas under the bridge from Park Avenue to the FDR Drive into small parks, a library, playgrounds and weekend markets.

People skate at the famed Brooklyn Banks skate park May 14, 2010 in New York City.
People skate at Brooklyn Banks skate park, May 14, 2010 in New York City.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

“Today is the opportunity to do that before it slips away from us and 50 years later we still see the same damn parking lot,” group founder Rosa Chang said at the meeting.

DOT spokesperson Vin Barone said the current repairs are essential. “DOT is aware of community requests to restore some areas and is currently exploring concepts that may be possible once construction ends in 2024,” he said.



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