Growing up: Botanic Garden will transform overlooked ‘Overlook’ into inviting incline

Going up: The winding paths will lead directly from the esplanade to the hilltop, which is currently only accessible by a paved bath running from the visitors’ center to the Osborne Garden.
Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

It’ll be one hill of a view!

Brooklyn Botanic Garden leaders are sprucing up a hill overlooking the sprawling flower bed that will give visitors a new reason to get high in the green space, according to its president.

“It will provide our audience with the chance to view the garden from a new vantage,” said Scot Medbury.

The makeover will give patrons new ways to access the garden’s “Overlook” — a 1.25-acre mound whose top boasts several benches overlooking the Cherry Esplanade that are currently only accessible via a path running between the visitors’ center and Osborne Garden on either side of the hill.

Designs call for carving winding pathways from the esplanade foot of the Overlook up to its summit, allowing those strolling amidst the cherry trees to easily ascend the incline to its peak.

The paths will snake around terraced gardens planted into the hillside, and boast built-in seating where visitors can perch to observe the crape-myrtle trees, ornamental grasses, and other flora sprouting from the newly planted slope, according to information from the Botanic Garden.

Bigwigs tapped architecture firm Weiss-Manfredi to dream up the old hill’s new look, following the company’s creation of the garden’s visitors’ center, which features a so-called living roof planted with a variety of green things and earned the firm several design accolades including a general-excellence award from the city’s Public Design Commission.

Work on the Overlook is expected to kick off in July and wrap next summer, according to a garden rep, who could not immediately confirm the total cost for the project, but said part of the cash for it is coming from a $10-million donation the green space received from a foundation set up by late patron Robert Wilson, who the renovated hill will be named after.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:44 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Michael says:
I personally think this is a terrible idea. It's less attractive and will not have any more usage. It's just throwing money at a non-existent problem, and ruining the aesthetics.
May 23, 2018, 2:47 am
Tam from Park Slope says:
Don't hire an architect for landscape design - good god that is ugly!! No mention that it is obviously designed for handicapped accessibility, that is great, but man ANY Landscape Architect could do a much better job than this proposed defilement.
May 23, 2018, 5:31 am
Paul from Williamsburg says:
Is the hill, as it is now, wheelchair accessible?
May 23, 2018, 7:36 am
Botanical Justice from Old Bk says:
"a $10-million donation the green space received from a foundation"

Is that why the garden recently eliminated ten hours of free admission on Tuesdays which it offered for many years, just leaving two free hours on Friday morning, eliminating like 80% of the time to benefit from the quasi-public garden from the financially-challenged?

Not everyone can afford $15 to enter the place. Not all of Brooklyn is rich, shiny, and gentrified. How about some compassion for the lesser endowed? At least leave a few free hours on Tuesday rather than eliminating them all?
May 23, 2018, 8:02 am
Jack from Park Slope says:
They seem hell bent on destroying the historic beauty of this place. Looks terrible.
May 23, 2018, 9:15 am
Outsider from Bklyn says:
And don't forget that they gutted the science and library departments that had been there for so long and and sold the building across the avenue where they had been housed for almost $25 million like 2-3 years ago.

Maybe some outside oversight is needed to find out what is happening at BBG. NYC Council? B.P.? Public Advocate?

A botanic garden shouldn't stray too far from its history and its roots.
May 23, 2018, 9:16 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
If you can’t afford $15, perhaps you should get a second job instead of hanging around and staring at plants.
May 23, 2018, 1:25 pm
Build the buildings and kill the garden from a dwindling livable Brooklyn says:
"The leaders are sprucing up a hill'"...? Wake up folks...there is a plan for 22 and 42 story luxury developments that will cast shadows for 7 plus acres into Prospect Park & mess with the habitation of the Botanic Gardens.

This is like a chapter from an upside down Alice in Wonderland chapter-the lack of coordinated planning and failures by the city to protect this public space-but instead gifting more REBNY developers which know no bounds to sate their what if gentrification & displacement follow as they have in so many communities since our 'progressive' Mayor took over. So what if plants, trees, vegetation die...more out-of-scale buildings belie BDBs hype about his OneNYC commitment to 'be the most sustainable big city in the world' ...plant some petunias...that should do it.

For more info:
May 23, 2018, 2:07 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
That looks awful. And they would lose a significant number of their Crape Myrtle Trees which are a bit rare for NYC and very stunning. This atrocious design looks like it belongs in California somewhere.
May 23, 2018, 4:11 pm
Charles from Bklyn says:
Doesn't keep with the character of the botanic gardens. Leave it alone. Everyone from out-of-town has told me they like its uniqueness. Everyone intown knows that too.
May 23, 2018, 9:46 pm
Jason from Clinton Hill says:
If you can't afford $15, perhaps you can't afford children. It costs money to wipe their bottoms. It's not a public park to leave trash all over and track dirt paths through the crabgrass.
May 24, 2018, 12:47 pm
Lauren from Red Hook says:
Is it true about loosing Crape Myrtle Trees to this project? If so, this sounds like a vanity project.
May 24, 2018, 1:22 pm
Ellsworth from Manhattan says:
terrible landscape design, a waste of money, and idiotically unnecessary. What's with the BBG?
May 24, 2018, 2:34 pm
Claire says:
My god this is attrocious - and so inferior to what's there presently.
May 24, 2018, 3:47 pm
Andrew Porter from Brooklyn Heights says:
I am a member of the BBG. I understand the real reason for this is to make the hill ADA compliant. To that end, they are also going to eliminate the steps up to the Overlook from the pathway near the Rose Garden, and the granite steps that lead down from the foot of the Osborne Garden.

I am not happen with these many changes, and I believe many other members share my sentiments.

As far as eliminating free hours, I know that the BBG is free for several months during the winter. It is also open from 6pm to 8:30pm on Wednesdays for members, though with so many things being closed (including the Japanese Garden, which will be drained while the water recycling project is connected to it; the native flora garden, and the Eastern Parkway entrance and Osborne Garden), there's not going to be much for long-term members like me to visit.
May 24, 2018, 4:46 pm
Tyler from pps says:
Wow! Ridiculously negative people on here... Aaaaack! Something is changing! It's horrible! Aaack!

It's going to look nice. You won't even remember it looked differently after a year.

May 24, 2018, 7:40 pm
Flora from Park Slope says:
How can such a negative reaction come from two renderings? It sounds like they will only be adding more Crape Myrtle Trees to their collection, which is wonderful. And more seating! I'm sure the new overlook will be stunning.

As any loyal BBG member would know, the slope near the Osborne Garden is not friendly to those in wheelchairs or with strollers, so these ADA improvements are so needed and will only make the Garden more accessible. I'm with BBG and will continue to be a member throughout construction.
May 25, 2018, 1:23 pm
why dont you move away from NYC says:
Wow, what a bunch of cranks complaining up thread.
May 25, 2018, 4:30 pm
Ms. Me from Bay Ridge says:
From the illustration it appears that the use of earth tone masonry instead of that white/gray would vastly improve the look of this project.
May 26, 2018, 8:39 am

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: