About this project
The first citizen-built and longest temporary bridge in New York City history, Citizen Bridge is a floating pedestrian bridge to reclaim the city’s waterways as public space. As a 1400-foot span from Brooklyn to Governor's Island, Citizen Bridge will offer participants an experience of the New York City harbor unlike any other. It is designed to create an intimate experience of being with the water, rather than seeing it from the shore, above from a bridge, or in transport by boat or ferry.
Why we need your backing
Citizen Bridge is about the collective power of citizens to reshape their cities, from the waterline up. Normally, large pieces of infrastructure are instruments of political will; in this case, Citizen Bridge is an act of community goodwill. The bulk of the work on this project has been entirely volunteer-based with nearly 200 individuals—from neighborhood kids to writers and boat captains—across various backgrounds giving their expertise and time to get the project this far. We have come extraordinarily far in the design and regulatory development of the project. We are now at a point where we can't advance further without you.
Between the changing climate and ever-expanding city population, the waterways present a unique opportunity. With increasingly urgent predictions about weather events and sea-level rise, especially in coastal cities like New York City, water will impact our future in many ways. As populations rise, personal space and public space will decrease, but the waterways that surround us are a virtually untapped resource. They are our backyard, a space and place to relax that’s free to everyone. Now is the time to reconnect to the waterways and regain them as our own. Citizen Bridge is the catalyst to begin that process.
An annual & international vision
Because of current waterways usage, Citizen Bridge can only be installed for a 24-hour span. However, we aren’t doing all this work for a single day: we aim to return year after year. Inspired by New York City’s Summer Streets program that closes nine miles of Park Avenue to weekend automobile traffic, Citizen Bridge aspires to Summer Waterways, where locals and tourists alike can have new experiences on the waterways, free from large commercial marine traffic. And because the climate change challenges facing New York City aren’t unique, and citizens all over the United States and beyond have become disconnected from their waterways, Citizen Bridge also aims to travel to waterways beyond Brooklyn.
A Rigorous Research & Development Process Citizen Bridge is in its fourth year of development. During that time, we’ve engaged in a wide variety of artistic, technical, community- and consensus-building activities and have contacted all the necessary regulatory agencies. We have learned the concerns of those that manage traffic on the waterways, protect the natural ecology of the waterways and those that oversee safety and security, as well as those who own the land on either side of Buttermilk Channel.
So far, we have prototyped seven bridge designs in full-scale sections. The first six were designed, crafted and tested by teams of students, designers, boat-builders and fellow Brooklyners. That process garnered the interest of engineers at Thornton Tomasetti, a top global engineering firm whose expertise ranges from bridges to mobile buildings to submarines, and Glosten, a marine engineering firm whose expertise with floating structures is world-renown.
Together, we designed and built the Superblock Prototype, our seventh and the first full engineered prototype, last summer. The Superblock’s success paved the way for our next phase, a proof-of-concept span that will deepen our understanding of operations, logistics, and safety systems as well as integrate anchorage systems into the design for the first time.
The Citizen Bridge Team
Today, the Citizen Bridge team includes expertise in structural and marine engineering, large-scale artworks and mobile architecture, New York City construction and bureaucracy, marine construction, architecture, environmental law, and event production. To date the project has been supported by extraordinary New York City and Brooklyn arts institutions like the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Recess, Pioneer Works, and Eyebeam. We have been generously supported by the Brooklyn Arts Council, Two Trees Management, and Estate4.
Citizen Bridge won't continue without your help.
We've come this far thanks to Two Trees Management, Estate4, Brooklyn Arts Council, Recess, Eyebeam, Pioneer Works, Thornton Tomasetti, Glosten, Gotham Drywall, iDEKO, DLA Piper US, Stroock, Stroock & Lavan LLP as well as all the contributors listed below:
Risks and challenges
Because Citizen Bridge defies standard permitting categories, obtaining the necessary permits and/or insurance for this phase of the project may cause unforeseen delays.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Buttermilk Channel is a navigable waterway, and for Citizen Bridge to take place, it must be closed to boat traffic—that's why it's a very temporary bridge. The Coast Guard offered a 24-hour window for the project to take place. During that 24-hour period all vessel traffic will be re-routed around the western edge of Governors Island.
The Citizen Bridge team deeply respects the commercial maritime industry and working waterfront and hopes, in part, that the bridge will help celebrate these critical harbor interests as well as create awareness of the importance the harbor plays in so many facets of the city's daily life.
From the design of the walkway to the development of installation logistics, we seek to minimize impact of this project—an homage to the city's waterways—on those whose livelihoods serve the harbor.
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