NYC locals and skaters want the Brooklyn Banks back

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You can’t take it to the banks.

Manhattan residents, skaters and a nonprofit are fed up with the frigid pace of repairs at the Brooklyn Bridge, which has fenced off 11 acres for more than a decade — including a world-famous skate spot and a public basketball court.

“I don’t think the city realizes how important the place is,” said Joe Ramone, 36, who runs the Save the Brooklyn Banks Instagram account. “It’s more than just a ‘skatespot’. It was a home for so many.”

The Brooklyn Banks is a legendary skate mecca that first gained popularity in the 1980s and was home to famous skaters like Harold Hunter and Eric Koston. The location was recreated in the 2003 video game Tony Hawk’s Underground.

Seaport and Two Bridges locals, who have never heard of Tony Hawk, also want the Banks back.

The now fenced area in 2010 (top) compared to its state in 2022 (bottom).
Mario Tama/Getty Images; Helayne Seidman

“There’s a lot for small children here,” says Nadia Vogel, 78. “We have two playgrounds in the neighborhood, but the older kids don’t have much.”

Cara Galowitz, 57, called it “dead space” in its current state.

Andrew Goldfarb, 68, said he would like to see part of the space used for food, music and art. “Things that bring people together,” he said.

Brooklyn Bridge Manhattan:New York - Construction workers at the construction site under the Brooklyn Bridge in Lower Manhattan.  The area was once a world-renowned skate park called Brooklyn Banks (aka Red Brick Park).
The Brooklyn Banks is a legendary skate mecca that first rose to popularity in the 1980s.
Helayne Seidman

“I just don’t want it to be replaced by tourist stuff,” said Guy Ursitti, 46, who has lived in the neighborhood all his life. “It must be for the locals.”

Since 2010, the Brooklyn Banks have been closed for a number of DOT projects. First it was for painting. Now the crews are repairing the stone arches at the approaches to the bridge. Many of the iconic and sleek bricks have been torn.

“At this point, we are being held hostage by the DOT,” Smith Houses’ Aixa Torres said Thursday at the Manhattan Community Board 3 meeting.

Still in the research phase, the Brooklyn Bridge Manhattan non-profit is seeking input, support, and public and private funding to bring the skate spot back and potentially convert other areas under the Park Avenue to FDR Drive bridge into small parks. a library, playgrounds and weekend markets.

People skate at the famous Brooklyn Banks skate park on May 14, 2010 in New York City.
People skate at Brooklyn Banks skate park, May 14, 2010 in New York City.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

“Today is the opportunity to do that before it slips away from us, and 50 years later we’re still looking at the same damn parking lot,” group founder Rosa Chang said at the gathering.

DOT spokesman Vin Barone said the current repairs are essential. “DOT is aware of community requests to restore some areas and is currently evaluating concepts that may be possible after construction is complete in 2024,” he said.

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