Restoration Plans Revealed for New York City’s Beloved Brooklyn Bridge

Arch Block C Southern Facade along the Manhattan Approach of the Brooklyn Bridge, rendering by B. Thayer AssociatesArch Block C Southern Facade along the Manhattan Approach of the Brooklyn Bridge, rendering by B. Thayer Associates

Plans by the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) have been submitted to the Landmark Preservation Commission calling for alterations of the Brooklyn Bridge. The designs call for a revamping of the bridge’s famous Towers and the arch blocks along the Manhattan approach. This program will address ailments on a portion of the bridge many residents of New York City don’t often see. The arch blocks have fallen into a state of dilapidation. The current condition is a stain on the reputation of the international icon, and yet another example of the city failing to adequately maintain a national landmark.

Existing condition of Arch Blocks A-E, with illustration of the Manhattan Approach, via B. Thayer Associates

(Above) Existing condition of Arch Blocks A-E, (Below) illustration of the Manhattan Approach, via B. Thayer Associates

Most significant for the proposal is patchwork to the two iconic towers. The documents detail three significant activities will be performed to maintain the facade.

Brooklyn Bridge tower proposed areas for painting and realigning masonry, elevation by B. Thayer Associates

Brooklyn Bridge tower proposed areas for painting and realigning masonry, elevation by B. Thayer Associates

Brooklyn Bridge tower arches, steel reinforcement proposed, elevation by B. Thayer Associates

Brooklyn Bridge tower arches, steel reinforcement proposed, elevation by B. Thayer Associates

The first action will be cleaning and repointing all masonry on the exterior of the main span towers. The second action will be to drill, install, and grout reinforcing bars for the securing of granite blocks along the tower arches. The final activity will be a detailed photographic documentation of the exteriors.

Typified Arch Block along the Manhattan Approach of the Brooklyn Bridge, detailing the necessary alterations for the facade, rendering by B. Thayer Associates

Typified Arch Block along the Manhattan Approach of the Brooklyn Bridge, detailing the necessary alterations for the facade, rendering by B. Thayer Associates

As depicted above, most arch blocks will involve infilling windows with bricks, in lieu of reconstructed window material. False windows will be included with louver air vents. Ground floor entrances will see stainless steel doors designed to fit the arched doorways, rather than the ham-fisted approach on display now.

Arch Block A Southern Facade along the Manhattan Approach of the Brooklyn Bridge, rendering by B. Thayer Associates

Arch Block A Southern Facade along the Manhattan Approach of the Brooklyn Bridge, rendering by B. Thayer Associates

Arch Blocks A through D on the Manhattan Approach will require some brick removal for walls beyond repair. The renovation will recreate a restoration as close to the original as possible.

Arch Block E Southern Facade along the Manhattan Approach of the Brooklyn Bridge, rendering by B. Thayer Associates

Arch Block E Southern Facade along the Manhattan Approach of the Brooklyn Bridge, rendering by B. Thayer Associates

For Arch Block E, the proposal is to realign existing brickwork, preserving the original material.

At the end of the process, the towers will look better, but before then, they will be partially obscured for a period of time during the revamp. It is not clear if the repairs will use scaffolding or something subtler.

There is not yet a clear schedule or an estimated completion date.

In related news, earlier this year, portions of the Brooklyn Bridge Park were closed for emergency rehabilitation of the Manhattan Bridge. A foot-long piece of steel fell from a section of the bridge into a public park, though luckily nobody was hurt. Scaffolding has been installed, but the long-term solution is stalled while the DOT considers adding new development below the bridge.

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