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Exploring Queens Plaza's New Dutch Kills Green Park

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Welcome to Camera Obscura, Curbed's new series of photo essays by Nathan Kensinger. Every other week, Kensinger will explore one of the city's less-known corners, beginning with the new parks built during the Bloomberg administration. First up, Queens Plaza's Dutch Kills Green.


[Dutch Kills Green opened in April at the eastern end of Queens Plaza. All photos by Nathan Kensinger.]

Queens Plaza, a maze of traffic and elevated trains located at the foot of the Queensboro Bridge, has recently undergone a $45 million makeover. Its traffic patterns have been rerouted, a bike path has been added, and its landscape has been redesigned. The largest new addition to the plaza is a park named Dutch Kills Green, which is located atop a former parking lot on the plaza's eastern end. This 1.5-acre park is an island surrounded by elevated subway trains and a nonstop flow of cars, buses and trucks. It borders several abandoned and empty buildings. The park houses a native-plant wetlands, a collection of artist-created benches, a small amphitheater, and two Dutch millstones from the 1600s.

This new park replaced a commuter parking lot with a wetlands.

Several artist-created benches sit within earshot of the overhead trains:

A pair of centuries-old millstones that were once buried in a nearby traffic island are now displayed at the park:

Dutch Kills Green is just one part of Queens Plaza's $45 million makeover. A larger redevelopment plan for the area includes the DOH office tower at Gotham Center.

As part of its makeover, Queens Plaza traffic patterns were rearranged and its traffic medians decorated with broken stones:

Pedestrian footpaths lead through jagged rocks between multiple lanes of traffic:

Drivers navigate narrow passages between rocks and trees.

New plantings and sculptural landscaping have been inserted throughout Queens Plaza.

Underneath the elevated tracks, the landscaping does not appear to have been completed.

Back in Dutch Kills Park, the first piece of graffiti has appeared, creeping in from several empty buildings across the street:

?Nathan Kensinger
· Official Site: Nathan Kensinger Photography [kensinger.blogspot.com]