The Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council

Participatory art project opens conversation on transition in Prospect Heights
Posted: September 24, 2015 - 3:51pm

Intersection | Prospect Heights draws on oral histories and photographs from past and present to explore the impact of rapid change on a community’s identity and sense of place

The Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council (PHNDC), Brooklyn Public Library, and urbanist studio Buscada announce the opening of Intersection | Prospect Heights, a multidisciplinary public art project that uses photographs and oral histories to start a dialogue on the social, psychological, and physical impacts of rapid change in this Brooklyn neighborhood.

In recent years, Prospect Heights has seen tremendous physical change, including the clearing of the 22-acre Atlantic Yards site, the construction of the Barclays Center arena, and the development of much of the neighborhood’s vacant property. Since 2000, Prospect Heights’ population has remained close to 20,000 residents, yet there have been significant shifts in race and income, indicating the displacement of a large number of people. Since 2000, the neighborhood’s African American population declined from 55% to 30%, and the percentage of residents earning more than $100,000 jumped from 15% to 41%.

In a convergence of art, research and advocacy, Intersection | Prospect Heights will host a series of participatory events about the changes that have occurred in the neighborhood in the last 15 years. Beginning on October 3, the project will engage current and former residents of Prospect Heights -- and New Yorkers from all neighborhoods -- with a series of neighborhood guides, popup exhibitions, guided tours and public conversations. Building on Buscada founder Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani’s work in the neighborhood in the early 2000s, the “guidebooks” use her photographs and oral histories to show neighborhood places through the eyes of residents from over a decade ago.

The project encourages past and present community members to contribute their own reflections on neighborhood places though storytelling cards, the project website, participation in two public “Place Conversations” at Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Library, and by having their story recorded in an interview at the library. As part of Intersection | Prospect Heights, PHNDC will also conduct a neighborhood development survey, reprising a similar study carried out in 2004.

“Dr. Bendiner-Viani’s prior work in Prospect Heights provides a unique vantage point to assess the impact of changes over the last decade to our community,” said PHNDC Chair Gib Veconi. “Construction underway today in Prospect Heights is expected to add more than 14,000 new residents over the next decade—a population increase of more than 70%. We hope the dialogue fostered by Intersection| Prospect Heights will help our neighborhood approach the changes yet to come.”

“Changes driven by development and rezoning as experienced by Prospect Heights are now faced by other New York City neighborhoods,” said Dr. Bendiner-Viani. “Valuing everyday experience and perceptions of place can help us create space for dialogue on the forces shaping our city. We hope the approachable form and personal narratives of this project will let participants laugh, cry and grapple with the experience of what is too often framed as the city’s inevitable trajectory.”

“Brooklyn Public Library is a resource for the study of Brooklyn’s past, as well as a place for a dialogue about its future,” said Melissa Morrone, supervising librarian at Central Library's Information Commons. “We’re delighted to collaborate with Buscada and PHNDC to present Intersection | Prospect Heights as part of our Brooklyn Transitions series.”

This fall’s Intersection | Prospect Heights events include the following:
Popup exhibitions and guides around the neighborhood
From October 3 to November 15, 2015. All locations at
Place Conversations : Open to all to tell, and hear, stories about personally significant places.
Wednesday, October 7, 6:30-8:30pm : Exhibition Opening and Place Conversation
@Information Commons Lab, Brooklyn Public Library, Grand Army Plaza
Featuring stories from radio host Bob Law, journalist George Packer and you
Saturday, October 24, 3:30-5pm
@ Information Commons Lab, Brooklyn Public Library, Grand Army Plaza
Featuring stories from U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries, NYC Public Advocate Letitia James and you
Guided Tour : Prospect Heights : A creative walking tour of the Intersection sites, joined by the Intersection tour guides, and led by artist Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani. Walk back in time to see the present in a new way. Participants can share their stories and add their own places to the tour.
Saturday, October 17, 3:00pm, Meet @ Met Food, 632 Vanderbilt Ave, between Park Place and Prospect Place
For a full list of events and activities, visit
This presentation of Intersection | Prospect Heightsis made possible through grants from the New York Council on the Humanities, Citizens Committee for New York City, Council Member Laurie Cumbo, the Park Place/Underhill Avenue Block Association, and the Carlton Avenue Association.