Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge is famous for many things, not least the old joke about the con man who sold it to the country bumpkin. It has inspired poetry  affection for more than a hundred years. Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is also one of those must-do New York experiences and one I finally managed to tick off the list. I walked from Brooklyn to Manhattan, the best direction for views, of course. The Manhattan skyline from the Brooklyn Bridge - ah, impressive. You can even see the brand new (and not yet complete) World Trade Center One building rising on the WTC site to once again be the tallest building in New York City. 

Manhattan view across the East River

The Brooklyn Bridge was built in 1883 and is one the oldest suspension bridges in the USA. You can read about it here on Wikipedia.  Walkers have their own path quite separate from the car traffic, and walking along the historic old planks and through the big steel cables is surprisingly pleasant. 

But, I hear you ask, how did you get to Brooklyn in order to walk back, and what’s there? Answer: by car with a cheerful guide; and ‘lots of things’. Despite a rainy day, we visited a charming and extensive city, with wide boulevards that used to have streetcars running up and down them. According to our guide, The Brooklyn Dodgers got their name from an old nickname for Brooklynites who would run across the boulevards dodging the streetcars. I’ll leave that one with you. He also gave us a few other sports-related jokes which I’m afraid passed me right by.

Wet peonies in The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

Brooklyn Art Museum
We paused at the Brooklyn Art Museum, reputed to have very large collection (with Vermeers), and took a damp walk through the botanic gardens (very nice). We cruised the streets and observed the famous old Brooklyn brownstones, up-market private houses in delightful tree-lined streets. We visited the old City Hall and took in a small museum of memorabilia, including posters for Coney Island, stories of the American Revolution, and a trail of native Indian sites. We learnt about Truman “I wouldn’t live anywhere but Brooklyn” Capote; and stood on at the Fulton Ferry Landing on the East River observing the Manhattan skyline and the poetry of Walt Whitman:

Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west, and the heights of Brooklyn to the south and east;
Others will see the islands large and small;
Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half an hour high;
A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others will see them,
Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring in of the flood-tide, the falling back to the sea of the ebb-tide.
'Pony Up' at the Carousel
DUMBO: in transition
Down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass...

We didn’t make it into Williamsburg, but we did visit the famous carousel on the banks of the East River, and walk around the streets of DUMBO. “Dumbo?”, I hear you ask. An acronym: Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. DUMBO is an area of ex-warehouses and port buildings which is in the early-to-mid stages of an artistic resurgence. You know the kind of thing: local theatres, small galleries, funky little bars, a few artists move in because it’s cheap, then businesses move in, then the yuppies move in and the artists move out because they can’t afford it any more. But DUMBO is still in the good part of that interesting evolution. It does, however, boast a couple of very fine restaurants, one of which enjoyed our custom. We ate very well, with the East River and Manhattan in the view. 

Then we walked off lunch, across the Brooklyn Bridge.....

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