100 years ago, Tibbetts Brook meandered its way through the Bronx wetlands, sustaining an enormous ecosystem on the edge of the booming industry of Manhattan.
As the city began to stretch and grow, development to the north of the city was needed, and the wetlands were paved over. Water flowing into the estuary was dammed in Van Cortlandt Lake, and Tibbetts Brook was buried into the Broadway sewer. Today, this "simple solution" has become the leading cause of pollution in the Harlem River due to sewer overflow. In addition to water pollution, flooding plagues Marble Hill and the neighborhoods surrounding Van Cortlandt Park, further splintered by a century of poor urban planning which has fractured and isolated this area of the Bronx.
Through Rescuing Tibbetts Brook, a constellation of artist and designer- led initiatives in the Bronx, City as Living Laboratory is calling attention to the solution: unearthing this buried stream and channeling it along an abandoned railroad line directly into the Harlem River through a process called daylighting. This will allow the clean, fresh water of Tibbetts Brook to bypass the sewer system, collect excess rainwater, and create a beautiful new linear park with walking trails and bike paths that will join the new greenway planned to connect Van Cortlandt Park to the High Bridge.
Rescuing Tibbetts Brook brings together a network of creative minds to engage the community in designing a proposal for a new linear park that stretches from Van Cortlandt Park to the Harlem River.
Tibbetts Brook will be the central feature, brought out from the sewer systems and into the light to nourish the local ecosystem once again, transforming a derelict stretch of land into an ecologically rich park, inspired by collaborative proposals by teams of artists and scientists, and directly informed by the surrounding communities’ desires, needs and vision. This early concept drawing gives us an idea of what is possible, but it is only the beginning. Together with our partners, we are raising funds to begin a community-engaged design process that will bring together a diverse team of creative thinkers and subject area experts that to organize workshops, walks, artist programs, school curricula, and more. This initiative has the potential to exert a huge amount of influence on the ultimate design for the park, while directly engaging ordinary people in the process of sustainable development within their community.
Rescuing Tibbetts Brook: One Stitch at a Time
Mary Miss’s proposed design model will serve as a physical and conceptual framework for the park’s function and activation. This concept utilizes seven bridges crossing the proposed daylighting site for Tibbetts Brook. Miss envisions these bridges acting as giant, infrastructure-scale stitches, helping to integrate the stream into its new location. At the bridges where the daylighting site can be viewed from a vantage point, new ways of seeing and sharing knowledge can emerge through innovative programs and artist projects. The ideas explored here will contribute to the design and future programming of the park itself.
The slideshow to the right highlights conceptual illustrations as well as programming that has already happened in and around Van Cortlandt park examining this issue. Stay tuned for a detailed timeline of the project’s development so far and the plans for what is to come!
CALL’s inclusive, multi-discipline and collaborative FRAMEWORK subscribes to the complex web of intersecting commitments reflected in the seventeen United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Rescuing Tibbetts Brook seeks to address six of the Goals specifically: