In the past, you could walk from Brooklyn to Governors Island. During low tide, as one story by Walt Whitman goes, farmers would walk their cows across a sandbar to graze on the island, giving the waterway seperating the island from Brooklyn its name: Buttermilk Channel. Nancy Nowacek heard the story, realised how close the island was and started looking for ways to reconnect the island to Brooklyn. It had been attempted before — Robert Moses once proposed a superhighway bridge, and Santiago Calatrava envisioned a futuristic gondola. Nowacek wanted to investigate if the bridge could be realized by hand, with the most minimal means necessary, without large, industrial infrastructure?
The project falls into the trend of DIY urbanism and crowdfunded urbanism. A similar project is the so-called Luchtsingel — a crowdfunded layer of pedestrian infrastructure in Rotterdam. Citizen Bridge is about the collective power of citizens to reshape their cities, from the waterline up. Usually, large pieces of infrastructure are instruments of political will, but the project emphasizes that in this case, it’s an act of community goodwill. Up to 200 volunteers have been involved in the project already.
The project’s focus is to highlight the value of water for urban areas, especially in coastal cities like New York. Because of current waterways usage, the bridge can only be installed for a 24-hour span, but is going to be surrounded by a month-long celebration of all the skills and knowledge that go into to being on the water. Also, the aim is to return year after year as well as travel to (international) waterways far beyond Brooklyn.