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12 Facts About Marine Park, Brooklyn That Will Amaze You

By Edited Jun 19, 2016 1 0

Marine Park

If you ever travel to the southern section of the borough of Brooklyn, you will eventually reach the area of Marine Park. The area is made up of mainly Irish, Italian, Greek, and Jewish residents. Typically, the Brooklyn neighborhood does not receive much attention, but the neighborhood has a handful of interesting little-known facts which you may find pretty interesting.

12. Marine Park became a reality through the philanthropy of two prominent Brooklynites, Frederic B. Pratt and Alfred T. White. Both men donated large sums of land to the neighborhood, which eventually created the gigantic park. At the time, the addition of a park was seen as a way to increase the value of the neighborhood's real estate market.

11.The neighborhood was originally called Brooklyn Marine Park, but the name was later shortened to just Marine Park.

Marine Park

10. Bertha Schalk, a Marine Park resident, was charged with disorderly conduct while forming a human chain across Avenue U and Flatbush Avenue in 1948. She attempted to stop garbage trucks from unloading their garbage around the area. She convinced other woman and children to form the human chain while holding American flags until garbage trucks stopped dumping waste in the neighborhood. Many environmentalists viewed her as a hero, especially when a law was passed that banned all garbage trucks from operating in the area.

9. Some city planners claim that the 2 and 5 subway lines were supposed to eventually link up to the neighborhood. This proposed expansion plan would have created the last subway stop at Kings Plaza shopping mall. Ultimately, it would have made traveling easier for residents in the area. Currently buses are the only way to travel through the Marine Park.

8. One of the most expensive pieces of real estate in the New York City area is Kings Plaza shopping mall. The mall opened on September 11, 1970 and cost around $50 million to build. When Alexander's officially discontinued its department store operations, the company held on to its real estate assets, which included the mall itself. In the late 1980s, real estate mogul Donald Trump also invested in Alexander's real estate operations. In 2013, Alexander's sold the mall to Santa Monica, California-based real estate firm Macerich. According to Crain's New York Business, the mall was sold for around $800 million. The mall generates $650 per square foot in sales annually, compared to the $370 industry average, which is higher than some Manhattan commercial properties. 

Brooklyn Mall

7. The 2014 film, St. Vincent was filmed mainly in Marine Park. Originally, it was believed that Good Shepherd Church was going to be the actual name of the Catholic school that Oliver Bronstein (Jaeden Lieberher) attended. It was later renamed St. Patrick's School.

6. Charles Downing Lay, the head designer of Marine Park, dreamed of a park larger than Prospect and Central combined. He envisioned a football stadium fit to hold 125,000 people. In addition, he wanted to merge Gerritsen Creek and Marine Park together. This would have allowed the area to have a zoo, a casino, a music grove, swimming pools, hundreds of tennis courts, basketball courts, baseball diamonds, and an eighteen-hole golf course.[1]

Jimmy Waller

5. New York City Mayor Jimmy Walker visited the neighborhood on several occasions. During one visit he stated, “One day this will be the greatest chain of parks in Greater New York and I hope you will live to see the day when this park is completed. I probably will not. It’s a short life in the mayor’s office, politically and otherwise.” Mayor Walker was one of the more optimistic politicians who truly wanted to see Marine Park become an Olympic Stadium. He resigned shortly after due to a political scandal. Marine Park's Olympic stadium plans were never mentioned again by any other New York politician.

4. In 1936, Charles Downing Lay entered Marine Park into an architecture competition during the Summer Olympics. Even though Nazi Germany hosted the Olympics, Lay figured it was worth a shot. Lay ended up winning a silver medal for his design of Marine Park. It was the only time in American history that a park officially entered and won an Olympic medal. As of today, the whereabouts of the silver medal are unknown.[2]

3. A member of The League for the Improvement of Marine Park wrote to Robert Moses in 1940 asking if it would be possible to have the 1944 Olympics held in Marine Park, Brooklyn. Moses was on a short vacation at the time, and eventually responded with a decisive answer. His answer was "absolutely not!"

Olympic Flag

2. Some local Brooklyn politicians and historians want an Olympic flag to be flown in the park. They believe that the unprecedented accomplishment should be recognized by all New Yorkers and by everybody who visits the park.

Forever Wild Preserve Brooklyn

1. Even though Charles Downing Lay's Olympic dream park may not physically be visible, in his professional writings and landscape practice, Lay frequently advocated for a closer relationship between man and nature. Lay founded the Housatonic Valley Conference in 1937 (which was later renamed The Housatonic Valley Association in 1941). This Association helps with conservation and cleanup of valleys, rivers and parks and has saved almost 10,000 acres of riverfronts, wetlands, and forests. Many environmentalists, landscape architects and park rangers would agree that Marine Park turned out to be exactly what Lay had always dreamed of. (Today, the area is a Protected Forever Wild Preserve managed by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. The region currently hosts over 325 species of birds, 50 species of butterflies, cotton-tailed rabbits, and 100 species of finfish.)

There is no doubt that this Brooklyn neighborhood is one of the most intriguing areas to visit in the New York City area. Next time that you are taking the bus or driving into Brooklyn, you are going to want to visit this fascinating place.



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  1. Myrna Katz Frommer It Happened in Brooklyn: An Oral History of Growing Up in the Borough in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. New York City: Excelsior Editions, 2009.
  2. John B. Manbeck The Neighborhoods of Brooklyn . New York City: Yale University Press; 2nd edition, 2009.

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