2016-ongiong | Rescuing Tibbets Brook

Bronx, New York

Rescuing Tibbits Brook began with over fifty CALL/WALKS, each led by an artist and scientist, social scientist, historian or other expert in their field. After having several walks in the Bronx along Broadway, CALL and a group of community members held a workshop in 2016. This meeting brought to light most pressing issue in the neighborhood: the ongoing flooding of the neighborhood after rainstorms, and the resulting sewerage overflows into the Harlem River.

In the late 90s the Bronx Council on Environmental Quality presented a plan to take the fresh water of Tibbetts Brook flowing from Van Cortlandt Lake, out of the Broadway sewer where it had been buried in the early 20th century and to divert this stream into the defunct CSX rail corridor, creating a linear park, which would decrease the load on the sewer thereby reducing flooding and sewerage overflows. The process of unburying a stream is known as “Daylighting.” The linear park with the daylit Brook will help with air quality, cooling, and promote health benefits. After several years of Walks, research and partnership-building in the Marble Hill, Kingsbridge, and adjacent neighborhoods surrounding Van Cortlandt Park, working with those partners, CALL has launched a multi-faceted initiative RESCUING TIBBETTS BROOK: One Stitch at a Time.

Mary Miss designed a public park proposal for the defunct CSX railroad and a conceptual framework that is to be be implemented over the multiple stages of bringing the stream out of the sewer to once again see the light of day. The development of this framework will call attention to the initiative, to support engagement of the adjacent communities and introduce local residents to the possibilities daylighting Tibbetts Brook presents. It is also an important means to keep the project on the radar of the city and state agencies who will be responsible for the implementation of this project.

Mary Miss’s proposed design model utilizes seven bridges crossing the defunct CSX rail corridor — the proposed daylighting site for Tibbetts Brook. Miss envisions these bridges acting as giant, infrastructure-scale stitches, helping to integrate the stream into its new location. At the bridges where the daylighting site can be viewed from a vantage point, new ways of seeing and sharing knowledge can emerge through innovative programs and artist projects. The idea explored here will contribute to the design and future programming of the park itself.

The aim is to involve artists from early on in an intimate view of the corridor, exploring the multiple aspects of the stream through walks, workshops, temporary installations, performances: what insects and birds live there, what are the shrubs and trees growing there. The vision for this initiative has been provided by the Bronx Council for Environmental Quality, the Harlem River working Group, Van Cortlandt Park Alliance, and Bronx Community Board 8.

You can learn more about City as Living Laboratory’s community projects, walks an initiatives on CALL’s Website.

You can learn more about Rescuing Tibbets Brook in CALL’s Project Booklet.