Fishbridge Park

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

FishBridge Park is located on the south side of Dover Street, from Pearl to Water Streets.  The park is named for its proximity to two of the city’s landmarks, the Fulton Fish Market and the Brooklyn Bridge. 

In the early days most fish was delivered by schooners and sloops. In the 1820s several fish dealers set up shop in a few stalls in a corner of Fulton Market. In 1831 they moved across South Street to a shed along the river and thirty-eight years later a building was erected as a permanent facility for the fish business. 

By the late 19th century new technologies such as refrigeration and express railroads made it possible to deliver fish from all over the United States, Canada, and beyond.  Fulton Fish Market became the largest in the country and one of the largest in the world. It was one of the last working areas of the Manhattan waterfront and one of the last examples of the city’s outdoor wholesale markets.  Six days a week, from midnight until about 9 a.m., the Fulton Fish Market was a dynamic bedlam of rubber-booted workers cleaning, boning, icing, unpacking, and repacking fish imported from across the world. The market relocated in 2005 to a larger facility at Hunts Point in the Bronx.

The Brooklyn Bridge is an aesthetic masterpiece and one of the world’s most iconic structures.  With its intricate web of cables and its massive arched piers, the bridge was one of the great engineering feats of the 19th century: the world’s longest suspension bridge.  Engineer John Augustus Roebling proposed this great link between Manhattan and Brooklyn in 1867.  After his father’s death in 1869, Washington Roebling took his place as chief engineer.  Paralyzed by caisson disease in 1872, the younger Roebling supervised operations from his apartment window and relayed instructions via his wife Emily Warren Roebling.  Brooklyn Bridge opened with great fanfare on May 24, 1883. 

Reveling in the glory of its two namesakes, FishBridge Park is a community oasis of blooming roses, golden cosmos, and soaring morning glories on the site of a former parking lot and garbage dump.  Between 1990 and 1992, local volunteers cleaned up the property and built a garden children’s play area, barbecue, and dog run.  In 1991 the City of New York leased the lot to the Seaport Community Coalition under Operation Green Thumb.  The South-Water-Front Neighborhood Association became the overseer and then lease-holder of the garden in 1995.  In the following year, the garden was designated as City parkland.

The upper area within FishBridge Park was renovated in 1997 and a wrought-iron perimeter fence, new planters and paving were installed. The upper area contains a dog run and sitting area, with a garden in the lower section of the park. FishBridge Park is an example of how perseverance and goodwill can create a fine public space out of leftover vacant land.

Friday, Nov 27, 2015

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