A Decade Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass

The original construction of the Archway began in 1906 as part of the Brooklyn-side support for the Manhattan Bridge–which opened to traffic on December 31,1909. It was built by The Phoenix Bridge Company and designed by Leon Moisseiff. For decades, Water Street ran through the Archway, providing a critical connection between the Gairville warehouses and the waterfront.

In the 1980s, the Archway was seized by the NYCDOT Department of Bridges for storage space, becoming a symbolic blockage smack in the middle of Dumbo.

Then, from 2008-2009, the Dumbo Improvement District and NYCDOT transformed the Archway from a storage space with massive gates, into one of the most remarkable public spaces in New York City. With a repurposed design created by Jonathan Marvel Architects, the Archway became an early participant in NYCDOT's plaza program (the neighboring Pearl Street Triangle in Dumbo was the first plaza in this program, debuting in 2007).

Today, the #DumboArchway is a civic town center for the neighborhood - a beloved gathering place for the community and culture seekers alike.

Here, Dumbonians share some of their favorite memories of the #DumboArchway.

What's yours? Let us know.

Sayar Lonial
Sayar Lonial, Board President, DUMBO BID

The DUMBO Archway is an important crossroads and meeting place: it has supplied great memories for ten years! Let's celebrate today and the future of DUMBO, a neighborhood that continues to redefine itself and is always a great place to meet a friend!

Dumboween Ongoing Photo Noemie Trusty
Alexandria Sica, Executive Director, DUMBO BID

I remember being blown away the first time the Archway hosted DUMBO-ween. The whole community came out: families, workers from our tech companies and tons of artists wore the most creative DIY costumes. Creativity was on full display: it was an incredibly DUMBO moment. I love thinking about the Archway as the center of community life in DUMBO. This neighborhood offers the sense of being in a small town in a big city.

Fight Night 2 Copy
2009: Bruce Silverglade, President, Gleason's Gym

"Fight Night" was the first boxing show in the Archway back in 2009, and my favorite event in the new space. The turnout from the neighborhood was very large. It made me proud that Gleason's was able to put on one of the first events in DUMBO.

2010: Randi Song, Business Owner, DUMBO Station, & DUMBO Resident 2005-Present

I have been a part of the DUMBO community since 2005, partly as a resident and mostly as a business owner. I own Half Pint Citizens and i2Concept.

Although I have many special memories of the Archway, my favorite is the recent opening of the DUMBO Station. I am blessed to be a part of an amazing team and to work alongside my business partners - David Craig and Kevin Cimini, the DUMBO BID, and the DUMBO community - in this epic public plaza! There is something so peaceful, yet exciting about being in the Archway. The DUMBO Station gives me a reason to be under the Archway often. I know that I will see, and be surrounded by, familiar faces whenever I walk through or by an Archway event. It is an honor to be a tiny part of this grand space.

Happy 10th Anniversary, Archway!

@randisong  / Randi Song (all social) @dumbostation

Stoop Sale
2010-2012: Robert Perris, District Manager, Brooklyn Community Board 2

My favorite memory under the Archway is definitely the Dumbo Stoop Sales of 2010 to 2012. It was a genius way to put a DUMBO spin on the classic neighborhood stoop sales of Brownstone Brooklyn. What a gift to the apartment dwellers of Dumbo! It was another great example of using this space for the good of the community. I loved seeing all of the amazing finds from the many creative folks who live nearby.

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2012: Leo Kuelbs, Curator, Leo Kuelbs Collection & DUMBO Resident 2004-Present

John Ensor Parker, Glowing Bulbs and I, along with several other artists, presented "Codex Dynamic" in 2012 as part of the Dumbo Arts Festival. We were finally able to relax and observe our work after months of stress. Although I had already seen our artwork a dozen times in the empty Archway and on the Anchorage, I was amazed to see hundreds–over 1,000 people!–gathered to absorb the massive projections. They lay on blankets, inflatable pillows and nearby coolers, clapping each time the show finished. No one left. Once they found their spots, they stayed.

I realized that art allows people to experience a tremendous, communal bond. No special message is necessary. Everyone was happy. It was a truly magical evening.

The Manhattan Bridge Archway art installation defined the possibilities of early programming for me.


Watergate Before3
2013: Casey Opstad, Artist

The DUMBO BID offered me the opportunity to paint a mural under the Archway. I answered: "Yes, Yes, and YES!" The Archway is a unique space in New York City. No cars! Protected from rain! Picnic tables! Yes- I wanted to be a part of this public space that is open to all.

I took mural measurements and suggested to the DUMBO BID possible twenty-two foot by fourteen foot designs. They selected the pixelated water motif. Great choice. Size was the biggest challenge: it is difficult to paint large-scale murals quickly.

I started work under the Archway, bright and early, at 7 a.m. I stood atop the twelve foot ladder and started painting the upper left-hand corner of the mural. Although I worked for ten hours straight, I made little progress. I freaked out and realized that I could not complete the project alone. I called everyone I knew with a fine arts degree and asked: "Can you work for the next two weeks?" Fortunately, some friends agreed to help. I would not have been able to create Watergate without Adam, Oliver, Dean, and Jess. I would like to thank Jess, in particular, for her contribution; this mural would not exist without her.

The train rumbled overhead. The train RUMBLED overhead. I did not bring earplugs on the first day of painting. I went to sleep that night with the sound of trains rumbling in MY head. The next day, ear plugs.

People often stopped by to say hello to me under the DUMBO Archway. I am originally from North Dakota. New Yorkers, in my opinion, are the friendliest people in the world: they talk to and help anyone and everyone! It is true that people often wear masks, during the day, in the city. But people remove those masks under the Archway. I talked to hundreds of people while painting. Children were the best at breaking the ice. They asked me, "What are you doing?" A great question!

The Archway atmosphere changed as the days went on. It was quiet in the morning. It started buzzing at around 10 a.m. It got busy at lunch. It became wild and packed at night. Then, it became quiet again. The only sound was the rumble of late night trains.

I felt at total peace when I finished the mural. It was a new feeling: I was floating. I was completely connected. Jess was with me at the end.

A ladder, besides the metal fence, allowed passersby to look over the Watergate mural. You could see down along the length of the Manhattan Bridge towards Manhattan. You felt like you discovered something that no one saw before. Water poured off of either side of the bridge when it rained. The Archway was peaceful and magical.

I am grateful for the entire experience. 

Mmny Crowd So Percussion
2013: Clara Inés Schuhmacher, Director, Marketing and Events, Dumbo BID

In 2013, Make Music New York collaborated with NPR Music and the Dumbo BID to turn the Archway into a giant instrument. Composer Eli Keszler strung piano wires across the Archway, and wrote a piece for the Archway and the percussion quartet So Percussion. I was Director of Operations for MMNY at the time, but had joined the team recently and was not involved in realizing this project – so I wasn't quite prepared for what I would experience when I finally made it to Dumbo on June 21. Plus, I had only been to Dumbo a few times since moving to Brooklyn–and had never made it past Superfine, never mind the Archway!

It took my breath away. The soaring space, the way the the instruments played off the Archway, itself an instrument. It was transformative. In retrospect, this experience set the stage for my work now: every time I round the corner and enter the Archway, it still takes my breath away. And I feel very lucky that I have the opportunity to work with the Archway-as-instrument every day.

World Cup2014 2
2014: Chris Martin, Director of Community Development & Operations, DUMBO BID

One of my favorite Archway memories was during the 2014 World Cup. We showed the USA vs Ghana first-round game. The Archway was packed with mostly American supporters. ESPN was there. Everyone anticipated an exciting tournament. Clint Dempsey scored in the first minute: his goal set the tone for the game as well as for the American team's exciting tournament run. The Archway World Cup viewing experience included passionate crowds and quality soccer throughout the summer. The USA scored the game-winning goal against Ghana in the eighty-sixth minute, which was icing on the cake. We all knew we were at the Archway for something special.

Bob Rothe
2014: Bob Rothe, Doe Fund Supervisor since 2009

I have two favorite memories under the Archway.

1. I remember the World Cup soccer game six years ago. It was a USA game. We had about 800 people at the archway. Butt to butt, shoulder to shoulder. Everybody was going crazy.

2. Years ago - way at the beginning of the triangle - Polynesian dancers from all of the different islands performed on the Archway stage. They had Mauri dancers; they had hula dancers; all different kinds of dancers.

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2016: Noémie Trusty, Photographer & DUMBO Resident 2011-Present

I have been lucky enough to live and document eight of the past ten years in the Archway as a DUMBO resident and event photographer. My favorite Archway memory is the inaugural night of the DUMBO reflector. David Crumley, the designer, put together an incredible light show: a mesmerizing flow of vibrant hues bent the Archway's rounded legs and brought the old stone to life.

The monument, over the last ten years, has been home to the BID's most emblematic and cohesive events. The DUMBO community would not be half as close-knit and fun without either the Archway or the BID!

Merci mes amis :)

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2017: Frank Riley, Executive Producer, Norton J. Edwards

I have many, many beloved memories of the Archway–from crazy student films there in 2001 to the big bad video install "Codex Dynamic" in 2012 with John and Leo, that {my colleague} Brendan and I burned ourselves at every end to pull off, but I think my favorite was watching the JPop/KPop band at in the Archway after the 2017 Dumbo Drop.

It was a day fraught with anxiety - very potential failure - and although the thing felt like such a fun, easygoing time once the Drop had happened, we were ready with weather contingencies to drop in the Archway itself, and so nervous that the Yes’s we’d gotten from landlords and City would somehow turn sour.

I’m so glad we did that one together - my team and the BID's team. It was really great and relaxing to see that band and have a beer at the Lighthouse.

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2017: Leonard Ursachi, Artist

I created a site-specific installation, Drift, for the Archway in December 2017. I cast seven sculptures from a driftwood tree, its form eroded by water and time, that I had salvaged from the East River. The Archway, beyond its architectural beauty, is a conduit, a gathering place, and a vivid emblem of New York’s history. Drift echoed the poetry and drama of the Manhattan Bridge, as people and time flow over and around it.

Katharina Goetz
Today! Katharina Goetz, Founder, Brooklyn Bridge Parents

Events and parties in the Archway have become an institution for families with small children in DUMBO. No other Brooklyn location allows parents to go out and have a good time without having to pay a babysitter! And no other place in Brooklyn reminds me of the community feel of the village in the Black Forest in Germany where I grew up!

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Today! Craig Anthony Miller, Artist

From the first days I set up my base in DUMBO–this small, humble pocket of an art community–the Archway was one of the places that represented a gathering hub outside of a bar or restaurant. The Shelter, the Cut Through (shortcut), the Meet-up Spot, and then later, the event spot. So many great memories of the World Cup games, the light shows, mapping on the bridge, the festivals, Essence Block parties, amazing "Live at the Archway" events and so much more. It is hard to believe that at one point this area was closed off for years. As this community continues to expand from within, The Archway will always be one of very few nostalgic spots that remains the same. Creative Community, The Culture of Dumbo.

Kai Kid
Today! Kai Song, DJ & DUMBO Resident 2005-Present

The DUMBO Archway is a special place for me. It has been a big part of my life since I was three years old. I DJ in DUMBO often, and playing under the Archway is always extra special. I was seven years old the first time I DJ'ed in the Archway. I was excited to perform in an iconic space in the community where I grew up. I remember how much fun I had. At one point, I even jumped up on top of a table to dance and sing! Although I am bummed that I will not be able to spin at the tenth year celebration, I will return to DJ on June 29th!

Kai Song @djkaisong


Chef Katsu And Chiemi Machida
Today! Chiemi Machida, Archway Lunchtime Vendors, Katsu

When my son was young, we often came to this area for playdates or to ride the carousel. Sometimes, it started to rain or thunderstorm. The Archway was and is a very good place to rest and wait for the sun to come out. The kids can play, run around here and feel safe.

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Today! John Coppola, Archway Lunchtime Vendor, Bread & Spread

The Archway is a nice little hideaway in DUMBO. It's a cozy place where you can get away from the city and the neighborhood. You can also drink beer and eat great food there!

IMAGE: a delicious Bread & Spread sandwich!

Meghan Humans Of The Archway

I crashed a wedding under the Archway once! There was a wedding that happened over on the garden. And they did a full march around DUMBO with their wedding band. And then they came and centered here. They started an improv dance party in the public space for their wedding. People here joined in and started dancing. There were about seventy-five people and their full wedding band. It was amazing.

Ashley Humans Of The Archway

I like being under the Archway because it is very low-key. I did not know about the Archway for a long time even though I live in Brooklyn. I found this place when I started walking dogs around here. I was like, “This is so cool!” I would visit whenever I had a little bit of rest time between dogs. I would bring the dogs down here to chill out for a little bit, or I would sit by myself. It is not bad under the Archway; it keeps you dry. It’s very relaxing.

Bomar Family Humans Under The Archway

We live right around the corner, so the Archway is our go-to spot. We come here often for the music events and art installations. Our family started to really utilize this space once the little bars and the food tents opened here. We even celebrated our tenth anniversary under the Archway with the kids. We did not have a sitter, so we came here instead. That was our plan. We came here; they colored and read, and we had beers and hung out. I am grateful to have the Archway: we have a lot of family pictures here! - Mrs. Bomar

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The Dumbo Archway