Rudy on Winthrop and I sat down for popusa nigh on six months ago. That was when, sensing he'd found an ally in the Q, Rudy divulged his wild plan to call on every Tom, Dick and I.M. Pei to rethink the Avenue, the very block upon which we were eating said popusas (actually, as I recall, I was the only one eating popusa - Rudy had the grilled cheese). I thought he was nuts (still do) but I admire his wit, his pluck and his footwear, not to mention the tenacity with which he raised the money, built a network of committed neighbors, created a nifty website, and starting tomorrow plans to alert the entire English-speaking world to the existence of a $1,000 prize to the best remaking of our own commercial corner of the Park. More to come, but for now, hats off to a man, a plan, a canal - The Parkside Prize.
(For those of you to lazy to click this link, here's some of the killer copy from the website)
About Parkside Avenue
Parkside Avenue could be one of the great streets of Brooklyn.
It begins at Park Circle, and for half a mile it runs beneath the trees south of Prospect Park, with the Parade Grounds to one side and Prospect Park Lake to the other. It ends at the foot of mighty Kings County Hospital, which stands guard over all of Prospect Lefferts Gardens.
In between, there is one block that needs some attention, some affection: the block between Ocean and Flatbush. For example:
Ocean Avenue divides the neighborhoods of Prospect Lefferts Gardens and Flatbush from Prospect Park. Thousands of pedestrians cross Ocean every day, on their way to and from the park. But Parkside Avenue serves as a major conduit for traffic heading north and south through the borough. Thousands of cars speed through the intersection of Ocean and Parkside every hour. What can be done to pacify this hazard?
The subway station at Parkside Avenue is a treasure of the old BMT system, but it is in ruin. Ailanthus trees grow from its roofs, its ceilings are collapsing, its paint is peeling, its exits smell like a sewer. Is this the best imaginable entrance to Prospect Park? Shouldn’t this be the boldest, greenest subway stop in all New York?
The sidewalks along Parkside Avenue, and the plaza in front of the park itself, are derelict and underused. Shopping carts sit in every corner, trash is piled in every nook, and refuse blows over the open concrete. What is the highest and best use for all this wasted public space? A fountain, a farmers’ market, a plinth in honor of Frederick Law Olmsted?
The most prominent building on the block, 205 Parkside, is a shambles. What could this building be? A community center, a school, workspace for avant garde artists and robot enthusiasts, a pan yard for the steel drum scene?
Parkside Avenue is not a blank slate. But we invite you to imagine that it is.