Bush Terminal Park: Industrial Apple Orchard

November 14th, 2007 -

Brooklyn's Bush Terminal is located on the Sunset Park waterfront. It houses a collection of warehouses and train tracks. Behind this industrial area lies a fenced off "brownfield" - including a decades-old apple orchard, two unnatural ponds and a series of man-made bays. As explained by the NYC Council's Waterfronts Committee in an oversight document, the area was an active port until 1974, when its series of piers was filled in with "illegal disposal of liquid wastes at the landfill including oils, oil sludges, and wastewaters."

A total of $36 million has now been dedicated to redevelop this 23 acre site into a park. According to the official press release, this includes "the largest brownfield grant ever awarded by the state" of New York. A proposal map of the development included in a remediation document by the Department of Environmental Conservation includes plans for a mini golf course and children's soccer fields where this poisoned apple orchard now exists.

The redevelopment of Bush Terminal, like the nearby South Brooklyn Marine Terminal and the Brooklyn Army Terminal, is controlled by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC).

For more photo essays from Brooklyn's Sunset Park please visit the Brooklyn Army Terminal (2008), the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (2009), Empire Electric (2009), S & S Machinery (2010) and the 68th Police Precinct (2011).

Manhattan Skyline

Bush Terminal Apple Orchard

Industrial Apples

Bush Terminal Pond

Abandoned Pier - Low Tide

Broken Landfill Cap

Dead Pier

Unnatural Bay

Forest of Green

Sunset Park Brownfield


  1. great shots, let's see more. thanks

  2. Great post, I love this kind of intersection between derelict industrial sites and dodgy development schemes. Do you know who the developers and architects they're considering are?

  3. There will be no "developers". The New York City Economic Development Corporation will be the conduit for accomplishing the remediation of the landfill and design/construction of the park. When completed, NYC Department of Parks and Recreation will have jurisdiction over the property and it will be managed as City parkland with ballfields, a playground, passive recreational areas and an environmental center.

  4. To clarify the Anonymous comment above:

    There will be at least one "developer" involved: the EDC, which is one of the biggest "developers" in New York, since they are in charge of developing massive swaths of city owned land and property. They are currently in charge of developing both the Bush Terminal and the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park.

    By develop, I mean they are leasing these spaces to businesses, accepting proposals for how to change these spaces and are responsible for redesigning the landscape, demolishing certain parts of the property and building new structures.

    As for the architects in charge of the park project, the EDC has selected a consulting team: Donna Walcavage Landscape Architecture & Urban Design. Interestingly, this firm's website claims to have a budget of $50 million for the park project.


  5. Yeah, what Nathan said.

    In any city, the biggest 'developer' is the city itself. And especially when there's this much money involved in what is ostensibly a public development, you know there's always a private component related to it.

    I'm always amazed at the blurry line between environmental disasters and urban recreation. Parks are always at the center of somebody's profit-driven masterplan.

  6. nice photos and post!

  7. Geez, I suppose these whiners would rather leave it as a hopelessly polluted, crumbling, derelict refuge for crack addicts than let somebody make money out of it and create a new park.
    No matter who spends the money and who makes the money off of this project it will create a lot of jobs, raise values of homes in the area and clean up a totally polluted mess.

    Whats so bad about that?

  8. Hi Anonymous -

    I agree that developing the waterfront of Brooklyn will drive up the cost of housing. I don't agree that this is neccessarily a good thing.

    Sunset Park is one of the few remaining working industrial waterfront spaces in New York City. Putting a multi-million dollar park into the Bush Terminal space will, most likely, displace this industry and also the diverse neighborhood of people living nearby. It probably will lead to the creation of more expensive condominiums for a wealthier class of consumers.

    Is another park complex the best use of this space? Or should New York work to preserve its industrial areas, its history, and its diverse neighborhoods?

  9. these photos are amazing. I wonder what camera are you using? Great blog! Good thing I passed by.


  10. I work on First Avenue just a few blocks from this site. I work with the residents of Sunset Park and I care for them, their families, and one of their most precious assets: their health. I also live in a Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood just north of Sunset Park. I know first hand how awful overpriced condominium developments can be and how they price decent hard working citizens out of their neighborhoods or force them to be renters living check to check to make ends meet.

    It is no easy task to decide what is best for a community. I believe that preserving working ports is extremely important to the livelihood of local residents and the preservation of New York's history. I also believe that this neighborhood and its residents are desperately in need of open space and biodiversity. The pollution from the Gowanus Expressway, industrial truck traffic and the Gowanus canal is pervasive. The street trees, when present, are sickly, and there is practically no other greenery to speak of. When I look the residents of this neighborhood in the eye, I know that they deserve a break. They deserve this park.

    I wish the residents of this city could stand together and speak loud enough so that planners may understand that we need the park AND the preservation. Otherwise all of the ethnic characteristics they plan to incorporate within the sunset park section of the greenway will likely stand as a future memory of the great and former residents of the area.