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New York, Brooklyn Bridge, The Van Alen Institute, New York City Council, the High Line
Photograph: Courtesy BIG + ARUP, New York

This design competition reimagines the Brooklyn Bridge as pedestrian-only

Some of the proposals resemble the High Line on steroids.

By
Howard Halle
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If there's been any sort of silver lining to the pandemic in NYC, it has to be the significant reduction in traffic throughout the Five Boroughs—which, besides lowering pollution levels, has given New Yorkers a taste of what life could be like without the fear of being run over. This, in turn, has raised hopes that that post-Covid New York could be car-free, or at least more car-free than it currently is.

New York, Brooklyn Bridge, The Van Alen Institute, New York City Council, the High Line
Bridge XPhotograph: Courtesy ScenesLab + Minzi Long + Andrew Nash, New York/Boston/Vienna
New York, Brooklyn Bridge, The Van Alen Institute, New York City Council, the High Line
The Cultural CurrentPhotograph: Courtesy Aubrey Bader and Maggie Redding, Knoxville, TN

The notion is not as farfetched as it sounds. Congestion pricing schemes are being considered, which would sharply discourage traffic in Manhattan below 96th Street. Plus, there are already pedestrian plazas and bike lanes taking up space on roadways that were once the exclusive domain of automobiles. Finally, miles of streets have been made pedestrian-only during the lockdown, while outdoor dining areas have been taking up lanes reserved for traffic. And there are already calls to make these changes permanent.

New York, Brooklyn Bridge, The Van Alen Institute, New York City Council, the High Line
Brooklyn Bridge ForestPhotograph: Courtesy Pilot Projects Design Collective, Cities4Forests, Wildlife Conservation Society, Grimshaw and Silman, New York/Montreal

It's in that spirit that The Van Alen Institute and the New York City Council launched a design competition for re-imagining the pedestrian promenade of the Brooklyn Bridge to create more room for people than cars. Six finalists were just announced, and some of their proposals resemble something like the High Line on steroids.

New York, Brooklyn Bridge, The Van Alen Institute, New York City Council, the High Line
Do Look DownPhotograph: Courtesy Shannon Hui, Kwans Kim, and Yujin Kim, Hong Kong/Bay Area, CA/New York

While it's highly unlikely that any of these ideas will be implemented, they do point to a future New York free of cars, something that's become suddenly easier to imagine.

New York, Brooklyn Bridge, The Van Alen Institute, New York City Council, the High Line
Back to the FuturePhotograph: Courtesy BIG + ARUP, New York

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