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Downtown Brooklyn renderings
Rendering: courtesy Downtown Brooklyn Partnership

Downtown Brooklyn is going car-free

Nearly 20 streets would be pedestrian-only in this future plan for the neighborhood.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver
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Drastic changes are planned for Downtown Brooklyn to make it a more walkable and pleasant area for pedestrians.

The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership released renderings from its Public Realm Action Plan that reimagines the streets between Willoughby and Schermerhorn Streets north and south of the Fulton Mall, and maps a network of shared streets, new public spaces and more greenery.

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DBP worked with NYC DOT, NYC Parks, and a more than 50-member steering committee to create a plan that would make Downtown Brooklyn a "citywide leader in reclaiming streets for greater pedestrian use and creating public spaces that prioritize people and the environment."

Downtown Brooklyn renderings
Photograph: courtesy Downtown Brooklyn Partnership

The area has been bursting at the seams since its 2004 rezoning, DBP says, growing into a mixed-use neighborhood with a population boom, new businesses and jobs. The streets, as they are now, do not serve those who use it—pedestrians, cyclists, and mass transit riders.

Apparently, Brooklyn has experienced the largest population increase of the five boroughs and has tied with Chicago as the third-largest city in the U.S., DBP says.

Downtown Brooklyn renderings
Photograph: courtesy Downtown Brooklyn Partnership
Downtown Brooklyn renderings
Photograph: courtesy Downtown Brooklyn Partnership

"The pandemic has underscored the need to follow through on our public realm vision for a downtown that prioritizes people over cars and quality green spaces," said Regina Myer, President of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, in a statement. "It has also shown that City agencies are capable of responding swiftly and strategically when necessary. This plan positions Downtown Brooklyn as a model for converting outdated infrastructure that no longer serves its constituents, and we are moving forward with our partners at the City to make our vision a reality."

To get started on these improvements, the plan proposes the following:

  • Transform Columbus Park, Albee Square + Fleet Street, and University Place into public spaces that are inviting communal gathering places;
  • Reimagine Adams Street as a signature multi-modal boulevard that builds upon DOT’s upgrades to the Brooklyn Bridge, creating a more connected and protected bicycle network so commuters can travel safely to and from Manhattan;
  • Pedestrianize the Downtown Brooklyn core by widening sidewalks and creating a network of curbless shared streets;
  • Plant 1,000 new trees using in-ground and raised planters, and incorporate green walls and rain gardens to improve air quality and reduce urban heat island effect;
  • Reevaluate the Fulton/Livingston bus network - adjusting routes to maximize efficiency, alleviate congestion, and enhance the pedestrian experience.
    With support from the City, the area’s BIDs and private funds, the Downtown Brooklyn Public Realm Action Plan will address current and anticipated challenges.

 What do you think of the plan and what do you think Downtown Brooklyn needs?

Downtown Brooklyn renderings
Photograph: courtesy Downtown Brooklyn Partnership

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