Everybody at a skating rink smiles.
Ever notice this? The teenagers in hockey skates racing from one side to the next. The moms gently guiding their I-don’t-know-about-this children along the ice. The couples (there are always couples) holding hands out of affection and a desire to stay vertical.
Skaters determined to stay on their feet were grinning and laughing recently on a new patch of ice in New York City. Glide, a pop-up skating rink at Brooklyn Bridge Park, brings a different vibe to the New York skating scene. While its older and more experienced cousin, the Rink at Rockefeller Center, is the bona fide see-and-be-seen destination in the city, Glide is across the river. In a park. It’s quieter. Quirkier.
Glide debuted in December and will stay open until March 1.
It is directly under the bridge, making you feel like you can almost touch the slate-blue bricks of the bridge’s Brooklyn tower. The ferries and barges on the East River bustle by. And when it gets dark, Manhattan turns on its lights, seemingly just for you.
If ever there was a place with Instagram written all over it, this is it.
Or TikTok. That’s how Dorian Herrera and Fernanda Fernandez of the Bronx, both 17, found out about the picturesque spot. They spent about an hour on the ice, holding onto each other and giggling under the lights.
“It was a lot of fun,” Ms. Fernandez said. “I feel like I was going fast.”
However stunning the $400 million campus is now, this section of Brooklyn was anything but in its pre-park days. In 1984, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey ended its cargo operations at the Brooklyn piers and planned to sell the land for commercial development. By then, the place was abandoned and assumed to be visited only by ne’er-do-wells, a reputation earned in the 1970s and ’80s.
The land remained fallow for decades. In 2002, New York State and City, under Governor George E. Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, agreed to fund a park at the site.
The early renderings of the park, dating back to 2005, included a rink as a wintertime draw, according to Eric Landau, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, which operates Brooklyn Bridge Park. The first sections of the park opened in 2010, and it now encompasses 85 acres, stretching along 1.3 miles of the Brooklyn shoreline.
But the spot reserved for the rink, named Emily Warren Roebling Plaza, simply opened as parkland in 2021, though temporary artwork came to the shores under the bridge and pickleball courts came to the piers.
Brooklyn Bridge Park put out a call for proposals in March 2023, and IMG, the sports management conglomerate, submitted a bid in May. IMG teamed up with BSE Global, the parent company for Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets.
“We were perfectly positioned to bring this rink to life,” said Judi Ludovico, a vice president of IMG Events. Before this project, IMG was part of a Glide location in London, at the Battersea Power Station. Ms. Ludovico declined to comment on the financial makeup of the deal with Brooklyn Bridge Park.
For BSE Global, the rink was an opportunity to create another neighborhood gathering place. “We have a longstanding relationship with the Parks Department, having previously worked together on multiple basketball court renovations in Brooklyn,” said Aaron Jakubovitz, vice president of marketing at BSE Global, in a statement.
The space they created is continuing the park’s mission of attracting a broad swath of New York — college students, high school students, tourists, little kids, kids at heart.
Ms. Ludovico, the IMG vice president, declined to disclose how the rink is doing financially, but said in an email, “we are pleased with how the rink has been performing.”
Along with free skates, the rink also hosts a number of theme nights. The vocal stylings of Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and Harry Styles have already pierced the winter air. February will feature a Valentine’s Day skate and a K-pop night.
To further encourage visitors to come out, Brooklyn Bridge Park is providing free and reduced tickets to New York City residents on certain days, and it has subsidized tickets for schools and community centers. Standard adult tickets are $15 off peak and $25 peak, while youth tickets run from $10 to $12. “We wanted it to be accessible to everybody,” Landeau said.
One recent evening, Claudia Pasculli, a tourist from Argentina, and her husband steadied their 10-year-old son, a first-time skater. Getting on the ice was her son’s idea, she said. But once he got out there, he found out it was a bit harder than it looked.
Still, Ms. Pasculli had no complaints. “Everyone helped us and gave us some instructions,” she said.
Madelin Rios, 19, and Alrzando Bustillo, 24, of Queens, were also beginners. Both said they had only been on ice skates a couple of times before, but that didn’t stop them from starting and stopping and starting again, making their way around the rink. And taking pictures, of course.
“I like the view,” Ms. Rios said.