McCarren Park is not only one of the larger parks in Brooklyn, but also serves as a transition between Williamsburg and Greenpoint. A park equally valued and cherished in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, McCarren Park is the site of endless games of kickball, soccer, baseball, bocce, handball, basketball, football, and tennis, not to mention running meets and playground antics. It is 35 acres of bustling activity, shared by families born into the neighborhood, recent immigrants, and young renters. McCarren Park is home to the McCarren Park Pool and Play Center, completed in 2012 to be respite on hot days and a year-round center of community life.
The park almost acts as an active border between the two neighborhoods, not as a distinct line, but as a shared space that the two neighborhoods can coincide in. It is an important place to both neighborhoods, and the fact that the two share the space only adds to the diversity of the park and how great it becomes as a whole. A defining feature of the park is its juxtaposition of naturalistic and urban landscapes and the incorporation of both active and passive recreation, as well as restored natural areas. The open fields that the park provides allow for imaginative interpretation of the space, giving rise to a diversity of uses for the space. The wide variety of activities taking place within the park adds to the looseness of the space and gives it a greater opportunity to become a place for more people.
Uses of the Park: then and now
Originally named Greenpoint Park, the park was renamed McCarren Park in 1909 after State Senator Patrick H. McCarren began work as a cooper at the Williamsburg sugar refineries and eventually became the democratic boss of Brooklyn. Events on the baseball fields of McCarren Park include members of the punk and indie communities gathering to participate in league-controlled kickball tournaments. For several years, the baseball fields have hosted tournament play for the Hasidim; weekend afternoons provide T-ball and softball games for organized area youth groups; Latino families and friends often utilize the fields to play soccer and volleyball into the late hours of the night.
During the summer of 1936 a pool was opened in the park to hold a maximum capacity of 6800 swimmers. The enormous pool served as a summertime social hub for Greenpoint and Williamsburg, bringing people together to find refuge from the heat. The pool was closed in 1984 and only reopened in 2012 after the reuse and reconstruction of the pool had remained a contentious community issue for many years. Now the pool serves as a center for year-round recreation for the residents of northern Brooklyn.
Huhn, Mary (August 29, 2008). “McCarren Pool Plans Hold Water”. New York Post. 2010.
“McCarren Park Pool”. freewilliamsburg.com. 2013.
Lanham, Robert, “McCarren Park Pool is finally Open!”. Freewillimasburg, New York. June 28, 2012.