Brooklyn’s Myrtle Avenue Renaissance

vanderbiltplanting1007.jpg 

In an attempt to turn Myrtle Avenue into a thriving "Main Street" for Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership is now working with Project for Public Spaces "to survey, analyze, and produce conceptual recommendations for four underutilized public and quasi-public spaces on the avenue." You can see the 4 locations they are looking at here.

At the intersection of Myrtle and Vanderbilt, tree plantings will be used to deter motorists from using the sidewalk while filling up at the Exxon station. Last week, Brownstoner reported:

Over a year ago, the Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project began brainstorming with the Project for Public Spaces to come up with some ideas for improving the four public and quasi-public spaces along Myrtle Avenue in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill. One of those is the service road we discussed last month. Another is the Exxon station on the northwest corner of Myrtle and Vanderbilt Avenues. A study was undertaken to determine which of the numerous curb cuts were expendable and recommendations for the placement of four plantings was made. The property owner was game and, as you can see from the photos, the project has moved to the implementation stage.

  • Harry Hood

    Albeit a small step, this is the kind of project that needs to be replicated thousands of times throughout all 5 boroughs. For decades, property owners have pandered to the needs of cars and slowly degraded a number of everyday sites like this gas station. Jane Jacobs described these concessions to cars as “nibbles” where “no one step in this process is, in itself, crucial. But cumulatively the effect is enormous.”

    For NYC to truly become a great city it will require more than top-down innovation from the Mayor or DOT, it will take acceptance, buy-in, and contributions from everyday people. In this case, gas station management deserves credit for their willingness to trade asphalt for tree pits because street trees may actually be an inconvenience to their customers.

    Small incremental improvements like this don’t get a lot of attention or grab many headlines, but I’m sure that savvy streetsblog readers are familiar with Jan Gehl’s tremendous success “incrementally” improving Copenhagen. Reclaiming a couple parking spaces often goes unnoticed, people are not as likely to fight against it, and hopefully in the long run they forget how convenient it was to park their car on the sidewalk and see the public values in the shade that cools them as they wait for the B54 bus.

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