WNYC Transmitter Park
WNYC Transmitter Park
WNYC Transmitter Park is located on the site of the former AM-radio transmission towers for public radio station WNYC. Built in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, where Greenpoint Avenue ends at West Street by the East River shoreline, the site was set aside for the station by the City of New York in 1935. From 1937 to 1990, the city-operated station broadcast its AM signal from two 304-foot galvanized steel towers at this waterfront location.
WNYC is one of the oldest radio stations in New York State. Funds for its establishment were approved in 1922 and two years later, on July 8, 1924, WNYC made its first official broadcast through a transmitter on the 25th floor of the Municipal Building in lower Manhattan. For its first 14 years, WNYC was run by the Commission of Plant and Structures, making the City of New York among the first American municipalities to be directly involved in radio broadcasting. By the early 1930s, however, development of lofty skyscrapers around Manhattan created noticeable broadcast interference. The “dead air” problem was so pronounced that in 1934 Mayor, Fiorello La Guardia (1882-1947), considered shutting the station down altogether. To avoid discontinuing the beloved radio service, La Guardia appointed a citizen’s committee to explore all options to save WNYC.
The committee recommended acquiring a new site for the transmitter to improve citywide reception. An ideal location was found at what was once the Greenpoint ferry terminal, which operated from the foot of Greenpoint Avenue to 10th, 14th, and 23rd Streets in Manhattan from 1853 through 1933. Here low-rise buildings and marshland dominated the landscape, making it ideal for radio transmission. With the Mayor's consent and underwriting from the Works Progress Administration, ground for the new transmitter building was broken in November 1935. The new 1,000-watt transmitter was dedicated in an official ceremony on October 31, 1937, an hour-long event that was broadcast live and featured speeches by Mayor LaGuardia and Commissioner of Plant and Structures Frederick J. H. Kracke (1868-1955), along with musical selections performed by service bands of the Police, Fire, and Sanitation Departments.
The Greenpoint WNYC site was decommissioned in 1990. The station's transmitter was moved to the New Jersey Meadowlands and the towers here torn down not long afterward. The city-owned site remained vacant until August 2010, when construction began on the present park.
The center of the park includes a large lawn with play areas featuring spray showers, sand and water stations, nature gardens, and colorful play structures to the east. A nautical theme reflects the site’s waterfont setting. Just west of the playground is the former radio transmitter station itself, designed in the Art Deco style. A pedestrian bridge crosses the excavated ferry slip, restored as a tidal wetland. At the water’s edge, the former ferry platform has been replaced with a natural wetland shoreline. At the end of Kent Street is a recreational pier, offering opportunities for fishing and an unmatched view of the Manhattan skyline.