Venture out of Manhattan the next time you visit New York and explore Brooklyn, one of the Five Boroughs. You can reach it by bus, by train or even on foot. That’s right, you can cross Brooklyn Bridge on foot, see amazing views and do a little exercise. What are you waiting for?
No, not the flying elephant but the neighbourhood that is Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. DUMBO is located between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges and Vinegar Hill to the east. The warehouses of this formerly industrial area now house trendy cafes and independent boutiques.
Have a wander around the cobblestone streets and picture the Brooklyn of yesteryear. Walk down Washington Street towards the river and you will catch a glimpse of Manhattan Bridge (opened in 1909), a very Instagrammable view for sure.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
This 85-acre waterfront park has a few attractions; however, to me, its main attractive were the sweeping views of the Lower Manhattan skyline across the East River and of the two bridges, Brooklyn and Manhattan.
I went to the Empire Fulton Ferry section of the park, nestled between the two bridges. There’s a well-kept lawn to hang out in, and picnic tables on the patio outside the Empire Stores.
Empire Stores and St. Ann’s Warehouse, formerly a tobacco factory from 1860, are two of the few Antebellum (pre-Civil War) buildings still extant in the area. Take a breather at the Max Family Garden next to St. Ann’s Warehouse.
Jane’s Carousel is a restored 1922 classic carousel gifted by a local real estate developer. He had the pavilion specially designed by an award-winning architect, Jean Nouvel. The working carousel opened in 2011.
Take a wander around Brooklyn Heights and enjoy the aristocratic brownstones of this historic neighbourhood. I walked along Henry Street, where locals do their shopping and go for meals at the bars and restaurants. I recommend you wander off to the side streets and try to catch a glimpse of the lush back gardens.
Walk along the converted mews of Grace Court and enjoy the views of the river and the Manhattan skyline beyond. It’s so quiet and stately, I thoroughly enjoyed my walk.
Brooklyn Bridge is a hybrid cable-stayed and suspension bridge that connects Manhattan and Brooklyn. It was built between 1869 and 1883 and is probably one of the most recognizable symbols of New York. Take the 4, 5, or 6 subway lines to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall Station if you’re in in Manhattan. Go on to the Brooklyn Bridge Promenade and start walking. Enjoy the sweeping views. I did this in winter, and it gets rather chilly, so make sure you wear windproof clothes.
Bushwick is a working-class neighbourhood that is slowly experiencing a process of revitalisation. It was founded by Dutch settlers in the 17th century, but the population is predominantly Latino nowadays. The main draw is the street art. Murals cover otherwise drab concrete walls, especially on Moore St., White St., Sigel St. and Troutman Ave. Some murals change, some stay the same.
I had heard so much about Bushwick that I had really high expectations. Honestly, I was underwhelmed. I liked some murals, others left me cold. And I found the area untidy.
Williamsburg is another working-class neighbourhood taken over by hipsters and yuppies. My hotel was very close to Bedford Ave., where everything happens. It has character and a neighbourhood vibe. However, there was too much trash on the street. Bedford Ave. between Metropolitan Ave. and 10th St. is lined with cafes, restaurants, boutiques, convenience stores, and anything you can think of from an Apple Store to a WholeFoods. It reminded me of the Palermo Soho area in Buenos Aires.
Brooklyn Navy Yard
Created in 1801 as one of the nation’s first shipyards, Brooklyn Navy Yard has had a long history. The Yard closed in the 1960s. In its present reincarnation, it’s a manufacturing and green businesses center. The BLDG 92 museum, housed in the 1858 Marine Commandant’s residence, shows the history of the Yard and the people who worked in it.