Welcome back to Camera Obscura, Curbed's 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. Up now, Concrete Plant Park in the Bronx.
[Concrete Plant Park, opened in 2009, is a seven-acre post-industrial park on the Bronx River. All photos by Nathan Kensinger.]
Concrete Plant Park, which opened in 2009, is part of New York City's new series of parks that creatively engage their industrial past. Although overshadowed by its more famous siblings?The High Line and Brooklyn Bridge Park?this seven-acre space is the city's answer to Seattle's seminal Gas Works Park. Both parks prominently feature structures from their industrial history, and both seek to bring the public to a polluted, neglected post-industrial waterfront.
Concrete Plant Park is located on the Bronx River, "one of the most blighted, abused waterways in the country," as the Times recently put it, and is part of the Bronx River Greenway, a project focused on renewing this body of water. Alongside its concrete silos, the park invites visitors to use its boat launch, waterfront promenade, chess tables, and a busy bike path. A peaceful but isolated outpost, the park is sandwiched between several busy bridges, and is cut off from the mainland by an Amtrak line and the Sheridan Expressway. On a hot summer day, few visitors can be seen in its sun-parched landscape, leaving its waterfront wilds to crabbers and skateboarders.
At low tide, Concrete Plant Park reveals a rocky shoreline.
As part of the Bronx River Greenway's bike path, the park is popular with skateboarders and passing bicyclists.
Unlike Gas Works Park in Seattle, the park provides no access to its industrial relics, which were fenced off after an initial period of accessibility.
The park's sole public access point to the Bronx River is a concrete stairway used for launching boats.
A buoy collects debris and other pollutants in the river near the boat launch.
The park, designed by Jim Mituzas, mainly provides views to the water from a promenade above.
Chess tables are set up in the open sun along the waterfront. "The budget was tight, and the place lacks enough trees for shade," according to the Times.
A crab fisherman has found his own access to the riverside, under the cement blocks of the promenade.
An undeveloped, closed-off section of the park highlights the wilder side of the Bronx River, with debris and ruined docks under passing MTA trains.
· Official site: Concrete Plant Park [NYC Parks]
· Official site: Nathan Kensinger Photography [kensinger.blogspot.com]
· Nathan Kensinger archive [Curbed]
· Concrete Plant Park [Curbed]