Do you know that if you look through the arch of Grand Army Plaza from a certain angle just inside of Prospect Park, you can see a perfectly-framed Empire State Building? Cool, right? For those who have never noticed it, you better run out there and take a look while you can, 'cause guess who might be blocking that gorgeous view in the near future? Our BFF responsible for The Barclays Center, FOREST CITY RATNER.
I know that some of us have reconsidered our negative feelings toward The Barclays Center since they brought our borough the Nets and Babs Steisand and the Rolling Stones and whatnot, but the Atlantic Yards project is no where near completion. We have at least a thousand years of their modular glass shithouses to live through, and now one of Ratner's gargantuan towers -- a 219-foot tall residential high-rise on Atlantic Avenue near Sixth Avenue, to be exact -- threatens to block this little-know view of the Empire State building forever.
Richard Kessler, a long-time Park Sloper and history buff, has started an online petition in an effort to save the view, which he has dubbed the "Brooklyn Mirador." According to Kessler in a recent interview with the Brooklyn Paper, Ratner's new building would “perfectly block the Empire State Building." He adds, "If I put my back against that lamp post and I see an apartment building instead of the Empire State Building, I got no interest.”
And for those of you scratching your heads thinking, Wait a damn minute, Grand Army Plaza is waaaay older than the Empire State Building -- something doesn't jive here, you'd be very right. GAP was built in 1842 -- a full 40 years before the Empire State Building, which was erected in 1931 (yes, erected -- let's be mature here, class). But the Brooklyn Paper says Kessler has a perfectly good explanation for why this specific view through the arches was planned from the start:
"Though he has no documentation to back up his case, Kessler claims the arch — and an 1869 statue of Abraham Lincoln that once stood in front of it — points right at the former Astor mansion five miles away on Fifth Avenue in an attempt by architects to challenge the wealthy family because they opposed the Great Emancipator’s efforts to end slavery." (FYI: The Empire State Building now standing on the former Astor Mansion site).
Is this anecdote interesting? Is it a stretch? Just some wishful thinking? That's for you to decide. What Kessler wants is 99, 949 signatures on his online petition so he can represent his case to the Smithsonian Institute and the Landmarks Commission, who have already denied his request to landmark the view.
Forest City Ratner declined to comment because they were too busy lying about other stuff.