The Brooklyn Promenade, also known to locals as the ‘Esplanade,’ opened in 1954 and provided Brooklynites and tourists with 8 blocks of spectacular views of the lower Manhattan Skyline and East River. In stacked levels underneath this walkway is the super-charged BQE (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway). The Promenade is a gorgeous stretch of paved stones that hearkens back to the 19th century. In warm weather the area is filled with baby strollers, bikers, joggers, gawkers, roller skaters, (Or Roller bladers) people selling day-glow toys, and even film productions make use of the open space. Ten years ago a friend and I walked past actor Harvey Keitel filming something or other.
I personally enjoy walking onto the promenade and relaxing on the benches with a cup of coffee or ice cream from the delicious ‘Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory’ (even better than coffee!) I like to just read and mediate on life. The Promenade is the perfect place to end your stroll through beautiful Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO (Which is an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan–Brooklyn Overpass, not the Disney elephant.) And it is the icing on the cake after walking the illustrious Brooklyn Bridge.
The Promenade in the 21st Century
The promenade was once the location of the ‘Four Chimney House’, which has long since been torn down. It was a mansion owned by the Pierrepont family. (For which Pierrepont Street a few short blocks away is named.) The area was mostly a thoroughfare for the wealthy of the time. Hezekiah Pierrepont had ideas for a promenade as early as 1824, but it did not become a reality until over a century later.
In late August of 1776, British forces under General William Howe defeated Patriot forces under General George Washington at the Battle of Brooklyn. (AKA-The Battle of Long Island.) Washington’s army suffered over 2500 casualties. Washington used the roof of the Pierrepont mansion to oversee a strategic retreat. The night was stormy and foggy.
Washington and 9,000 soldiers were able to sneak across the river and prepare for a new battle the following morning. The escape took the entire night and George Washington was the last man to cross the river. However, the British eventually retained victory over the Patriots and overtook New York. It was the first Victory for the British during the Revolutionary War and it was recorded as General Washington’s first daring escape.