Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.
By Christina Osborne
Domino Park, part of the massive redevelopment of the Domino Sugar factory, opened on the waterfront in Williamsburg on June 10, 2018. After the factory closed in 2004, the area sat in ruins. Now, Domino Park begins the revitalization of a once-bustling locality. What was dormant and decrepit with the lingering memory of what was once the largest producer of sugar in the world, is now coming back to life — all while honoring its past.
Designed by James Corner Field Operations, who also developed the High Line, Domino Park is a welcome escape from the industrial and urban setting of Williamsburg. Taking the environment into account, the designer elevated the whole park above the FEMA floodplain. Rising water levels now pose less of a threat to the cheerful playground designed to simulate a sugar refinery, or the sustainable vegetation interspersed throughout the park. The park even flaunts a new restaurant called Tacocina, a stand serving up fresh tacos, thanks to restaurateur Danny Meyer.
As I walked through Domino Park on a sweltering, bright Monday afternoon, I noticed a change from the attitude and aura of the rest of the city; it was as if the subway had transported me to a different world from the Lower East Side, where I had boarded the train. The abundant greenery and bright colors splattered throughout the park gave it a sense of exuberance; a contrast from the laid-back feel of surrounding Williamsburg. One could spot the park from a mile away, with its turquoise-painted taco stand and towering gantry cranes left on site to commemorate its past as a sugar refinery.
Undoubtedly an attraction to people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities, Domino Park buzzed with joy; the pleasure of its visitors was immediately apparent. From a woman in the midst of a photoshoot, toting massive, shiny, balloons to celebrate her 25th birthday, to a father teaching his two young children how to do a handstand and a couple enjoying a picnic lunch, it was clearly a place for everyone.
The massive playground was full of gleeful children and the splash pad swarmed with people of all ages hoping to catch a break from the summer heat. Tacocina satiated many adults with its margaritas and Mexican beers, while for others it was almost impossible to ignore the urge to lie down on the lush green lawns filled with sunbathers, comforted by a cool breeze from the river.
My brain teemed with thoughts of lazy days here with my friends, or even taco dinners with my family. Although there are no scheduled events, which could be a beneficial next step for the park, the allure of beautiful architecture and a Danny Meyer restaurant is enough for me. Even though there are other parks, and other taco places, closer and more convenient to my home, the ambience of Domino Park is enough to keep me coming back.
Beloved even by celebrities like Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin, the park has something for anyone, in any walk of life. As someone who, despite living close by, doesn’t make many trips to Williamsburg, I am overjoyed to have discovered this new gem for myself. It is worth taking the time to visit Domino Park, even if you are not a Brooklyn native.
All photos by author.
*Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.