Lacrosse’s deepest history dates back to the Native Americans of the 1100’s, and was being documented by European settlers by the 1700’s. In the 1870’s Canadian immigrants established clubs in the NYC area, with 4 teams regularly squaring off in the late 1870’s (Ravenswood, NYU, NY Lacrosse Club and Prospect Park). (1)
In an effort to connect with the Victorian image of the "noble savage", affluent members of Brooklyn Society began taking up lacrosse in the 1870's. In a short time, with the rise of many local Athletic Clubs, modern Lacrosse found its epicenter in Brooklyn. The New York Times reported that the 1885 season saw some ...35 lacrosse games at Brooklyn’s Parade Grounds alone. By 1885 there were 12 teams in NYC, with clubs from Brooklyn dominating the Lacrosse world well into the 1920’s.
Unlike baseball, Lacrosse in America wasn’t grounded in working-class society. Throughout the 20th Century, Lacrosse became the property of the social elite and well-educated. The last few decades had seen a reemergence of the sport in all parts of the country. However, this growth has encountered hurdles in urban areas. Barriers such as cost, field space, perception and logistics have stood in the way of Lacrosse flourishing in the inner cities.The Brooklyn Lacrosse Club has emerged with the mission of removing these barriers. One of the biggest pieces of this puzzle was finding a home that supported this vision.
The termination of Old Fulton Street was the site of the original ferry linking Brooklyn to Manhattan in 1642. By the time of the American Revolution, the area around the ferry landing had been developed as a busy marketplace with industries such as slaughterhouses, breweries, and businesses such as shops, inns and taverns.
The construction of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883 was a significant engineering feat and served as the first physical link between the independent cities of Brooklyn and New York. The site of Brooklyn Bridge Park was a thriving public waterfront through the first half of the 20th Century. However, in the 1950's, shipping in the area began a steady decline in use as New York's older port areas lost ground to container shipping and to competition from other east coast cities. (2)
“When we were planning Brooklyn Bridge Park [BBP], people kept telling us how much they wanted to be able to touch the water,” says BBP’s designer, landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh, recalling the hundreds of community meetings he attended in the making of this park. Simple as that request may seem, it reflects the complicated saga of our cities and their rivers. Specifically, the tale of this narrow, irregular 1.3-mile-long stretch of waterfront in Brooklyn, New York, and its barriers to neighborhood enjoyment. Though they live surrounded by water, most New Yorkers have never touched the City’s East or Hudson Rivers. Like many American cities, New York long severed much of daily life, particularly leisure activity, from direct engagement with its waterways. Visitors to urban riverside parks have historically been sequestered in scenic overlooks or railed-in promenades. (3)
Today, the Brooklyn Bridge Waterfront stands ready to serve the people of Brooklyn again. Born as a ferry terminus, spending much of its life as a shipping destination, the waterfront is now poised to give Brooklyn access to nature and a more active lifestyle.
Access to this amazing stretch of public parkland was exactly what the Brooklyn Lacrosse Club was looking for when in search of its new home. This spot offers Brooklyn Lacrosse the chance to remove the barriers of entry that lacrosse faces in urban areas:
- Cost - Free permitting for youth groups allows for reduced program cost
- Field space - Beautifully maintained, with amenities for the whole family
- Perception- Playing in public park creates an inviting and accessible environment
- Logistics - Within walking distance of many modes of Mass Transit, at what truly is the epicenter of New York City
We hope that you have a chance to take a look at a revitalized sport in a rejuvenated part of Brooklyn. Practices start on the weekend of March 2nd/3rd. For more information, please go to our website at www.brooklynlacrosse.org.
(1) "Lacrosse: A History of the Game", By Donald M. Fisher
(2) Brooklyn Bridge Park website http://www.brooklynbridgepark.org/the-park/site-history
(3) “Brooklyn Bridge Park”, Jan 01, 2011 / Sarah Amelar / Architectural Record