Bush Terminal Industrial Complex, Brooklyn, NY

Post Author: , Nate Dorr

Much of the Brooklyn waterfront is still occupied by languishing post-industrial brownfields and semi-abandoned lots, but few have been left to run quite so wild as the former Bush Terminal Industrial Complex. The Terminal was an operational port until 1974, at which point the site was closed and a private contractor hired to fill in the old pier structures. Unfortunately the “clean construction-related fill” provided for in the contract turned out to involve “illegal disposal of liquid wastes at the landfill including oils, oil sludges, and wastewaters,” all work was halted in 1978, and the site closed to languish for nearly three decades. During that time, the partially filled piers crumbled into the harbor and the rest of the space filled with verdant (though toxic) growth of apple trees, bushes, and dense vines. Finally, in spring of 2006 the city, state, and federal governments together contributed $34.7 million to clean-up and conversion of the site to parkland, though no particular progress is in evidence yet besides some freshly-bulldozed fields facing the inland side.

For more information, check the City’s South Brooklyn Working Waterfront documentation, which I found through Nathan Kensinger’s own excellent description and photos.