Even if you knew where Bush Terminal Park is, you’d still have a hard time finding it. To enter, you must first feign the confidence of a practiced trespasser: pass a guard shed at 43rd Street and First Avenue (in the part of Sunset Park I like to jokingly call “Bay Ridge’s North Industrial Annex”), walk several yards down a driveway toward the waterfront, and hang a left, past old industrial buildings and a parking lot—just to find the entrance! But once you cross its threshold, you stumble into a well-kept secret, 22 acres of newly built and shockingly gorgeous greenspace that might outdo even Owl’s Head Park.
First, there’s the stone jetty, sticking out into the bay like a great middle finger to unpublic waterfronts, that lets you feel like you could get up close enough to the Statue of Liberty to kiss her. Then there’s the grassy hill, an overlook that, at the proper angle, can still feel obscured. There’re also fenced-in ballfields, even clean and open restrooms, not to mention a fenced-off nature preserve.
Part of the appeal of this former brownfield, which opened ten months ago after extensive rehabilitation, is the serenity of seclusion; for such a knockout, this park is seriously underutilized. “Several massive industrial structures obscure the park from foot and vehicle traffic along First Avenue—all of them housed inside a vast, eight-block lot surrounded by razor-wire and signs warning that ‘Trespassers will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,’” Colin Mixson wrote last month in the Brooklyn Paper. It “is so hard to find amid the industrial wilderness of First Avenue, the only reliable way to discover it is through word-of-mouth.” I’ve felt inclined to keep the secret. But, nuts to that—parks are meant for people, for all people, and this one is too good not to be enjoyed by anyone and everyone capable of appreciating its many gifts.
The park closes at 8pm until the end of the month (after which it’ll close at 4pm or 5pm until May), and unlike most parks it actually closes: the attendant I met on a recent visit threatened to lock me and my friends in if we didn’t vamoose. It’s too bad you can’t stay here all night, sleep on the hill under a star or two. But at the same time, something this precious? You want to lay it to bed, and rouse it in the morning.