02 May 2011

Brooklyn Esplanade Now Brooklyn Promenade Officially, It Seems

I may be wrong here, but did the official name of the Brooklyn Heights walkway over the BQE recently change from Esplanade to Promenade?

I took a double take when I saw this sign the other day. It looks new. I recall for many years passing a sign that said Brooklyn Heights Esplanade. I always smiled when I saw that sign, because I know that few besides I referred to the walkway that way. It was built and established in the 1950s as the Esplanade, but everybody in the area (in New York, really) referred to it as the Promenade. I thought this was mainly because promenade was not as alien or unusual a word as esplanade, even though they both mean basically the same thing.

But now it seems the Parks Dept. has caved in to public sentiment and also calls it the Promenade. The Parks Dept. website does the same. No mention of the word Esplanade. I know I'm not imagining this because all the old New York guidebooks I have call the stretch the Esplanade, even the AIA.

This is a small thing, I know, but I find it a shame. The constant clash between the two names made life more interesting, in the same way that the Avenue of the Americas is called Sixth Avenue by most New Yorkers, and people tend to call Grand Central Terminal by the name Grand Central Station.

Also, technically, esplanade is more correct. A promenade is any stretch of path meant for strolling. Esplanades are always by a body of water.


Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

Back in the early 80s I used to work at the Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn. It was a short walk to the promenade, which gave us a wonderful of downtown NY. I occasionally heard it called the esplanade but very rarely.

Ed said...

I grew up in Brooklyn Heights and it was always called the promenade by the people who lived there. I knew that it was alternatively called the "esplanade" but I had no idea until today that this was the official name.

On Saturday I went to the cherry tree festival in the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, where the main events were held in something called the "Cherry Tree Esplanade". Incidentally, this is not connected to water all all. There is a pond nearby, but no cherry trees within site of the pond, so the name probably doesn't refer to the pond.

Anyway, I overheard a conversation where one of the people attending the festival asked another what an "esplanade" was. He responded that, well, it was a place with alot of trees. I didn't try to correct them, but of course if I had tried I would have been wrong, since I have always thought "espanade" was just another word for "promenade."

Sage said...

I grew up in Brooklyn in the 1950s and 60s. I spent many hours at what I knew then as the "Esplanade". When Googling today, I wondered if I should type in "esplanade" or "promenade" as it is known by both names. Now I learn the official name is "promenade". it doesn't really matter; it's a wondrous place andholds great memories.