I.M. Pei and M. Paul Friedberg/Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

In 1966, the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (BSRC), formed and funded through legislation by Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Jacob Javits, began planning for an urban renewal initiative on two blocks in Crown Heights North. The two “superblocks” on Prospect Place and St. Marks Avenue were envisioned as a way to break the monotonous street grid and provide opportunities for recreation, respite, and an improved pedestrian experience. On Prospect Place, the sidewalks were widened and intersections were narrowed to slow vehicular traffic. More trees were planted and street furniture was added to create a serene environment. By contrast, St. Marks Avenue, an already wide street with a history as a play space, was blocked off to traffic in the middle with the creation of a mid-block park, complete with a fountain, wading pool, and furniture. The superblocks were the pilot project of the BSRC, and were deemed a success, fostering the formation of community maintenance groups, brownstone restoration, and increased real estate values.

These two "superblocks" run through the Crown Heights North, Crown Heights North II and Crown Heights North III Historic Districts.