Please join us on September 12 for a multi-faceted event for the release of The Accidental Playground, a great new book by Daniel Campo (Fordham University Press). Since the book is a celebration of the open waterfront before it became formalized as the East River State Park, Daniel will give a tour of the park beginning at 6:30. Please meet at the Kent Avenue entrance. Afterward we will walk the few blocks to Spoonbill & Sugartown Booksellers where guests can peruse Daniel’s book and view a slide presentation he has prepared. Wine and cheese will be served.
Thursday, September 12
6:30 pm: meet at Kent Ave and N. 8th Street entrance of East River State Park
7:30 pm: slideshow and booksigning at Spoonbill & Sugartown Books
The Accidental Playground explores the remarkable landscape created by individuals and small groups who occupied and rebuilt an abandoned Brooklyn waterfront. While local residents, activists, garbage haulers, real estate developers, speculators, and two city administrations fought over the fate of the former Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal (BEDT), others simply took to this decaying edge, transforming it into a unique venue for leisure, creative, and everyday practices. These occupiers and do-it-yourself builders created their own waterfront parks and civic spaces absent every resource needed for successful urban development, including plans, designs, capital, professional assistance, consensus, and permission from the waterfront’s owners. Amid trash, ruins, weeds, homeless encampments, and the operation of an active garbage transfer station, they inadvertently created the “Brooklyn Riviera” and made this waterfront a destination that offered much more than its panoramic vistas of the Manhattan skyline. The terminal evolved into the home turf for unusual and sometimes spectacular recreational, social, and creative subcultures, including the skateboarders who built a short-lived but nationally renowned skatepark, a twenty-five-piece “public” marching band, fire performance troupes, artists, photographers, and filmmakers. At the same time it served the basic recreational needs of local residents. Collapsing piers became great places to catch fish, sunbathe, or take in the views; the foundation of a demolished warehouse became an ideal place to picnic, practice music, or do an art project; rubble-strewn earth became a compelling setting for film and fashion shoots; a broken bulkhead became a beach; and thick patches of weeds dotted by ailanthus trees became a jungle. These reclamations, all but ignored by city and state governments and property interests that were set to transform this waterfront, momentarily added to the distinctive cultural landscape of the city’s most bohemian and rapidly changing neighborhood.
For questions please call 718 387 7322