Exploring Brooklyn’s Dumbo Neighborhood

Across the East River from the lower part of Manhattan, roughly between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge, you will find Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood. Dumbo actually gets its name from the phrase Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. With its proximity to Manhattan, it is a popular place to live and visit, and there’s a lot to do regardless of your interests. I especially recommend going on the weekend, when the Brooklyn Flea is set up in the streets almost underneath the Manhattan Bridge.

With that in mind, let’s start with the Brooklyn Flea. During warmer months, the Brooklyn Flea sets up an outdoor location in Dumbo, including approximately 75 vendors. There are quite a number of food vendors, if you are looking for a snack or lunch while you are out and about.

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You can find everything from handmade clothing to furniture, records to vintage knickknacks. There are numerous vendors who sell items handcrafted in Brooklyn. I was very intrigued by this vendor, who had a collection of old globes (most from the Cold War era).

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If you buy something to eat while you’re at the Brooklyn Flea, there’s even seating underneath the bridge! (The Brooklyn Bridge Park is also close by, and you may also choose to take your food and sit down by the water to watch the boats go by and admire the city skyline and bridge views.)

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And also keep an eye out for this sculpture by Australian husband and wife artist team Gillie and Marc, called Paparazzi Dogs. I think this one is really fun!

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In this same area there is an interesting temporary public art project, sponsored by the New York City Department of Transportation, called Personal Mythologies. The art is by a number of different artists, and it stretches across a long expanse of fencing.  Although it is impossible to include all in this post, the exhibition includes 6 artists and approximately 40-50 different images. There’s really quite a variety of styles as well.

Here are photos of a few of my favorites. (Because the images are printed on long banners, they occasionally have wrinkles in them that make photography a little difficult.) This first one is by Viktor Koen, and is called D.P. Toy No. 22.

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This one, by Judith Haberl, is Untitled I from the series A Decadent World Topiary Garden.

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And this piece by Klaus Enrique is titled Diana. I really liked Enrique’s work. He creates portraits using organic materials and then photographs the result.

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I can’t resist, so here is another of Enrique’s creations: Ghandi. I find it interesting to try to figure out all the materials he has used to create his portraits.

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As you continue to walk, make sure that you head over to Washington Street. As you walk down Washington Street towards the Manhattan Bridge, you will have the opportunity to take this iconic New York City photograph. If you look closely, you will see that the bridge’s lower supports frame the Empire State Building in the distance.

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Make sure that you keep your eyes open as you wander around Dumbo, especially once you get a few blocks away from the river – look under overpasses and around corners as well. There is a lot of street art, including some really beautiful and interesting murals. Most of the murals are a few years old, so the paint has faded some, but they are impressive nonetheless. There are 8 official murals in all, but a lot of other street art out there as well.

Here’s a few examples of the street art you will find in Dumbo. This first one is by artist, graphic designer, and activist Shepard Fairey, whose Instagram feed is @obeygiant. I really like Fairey’s art. His murals are in numerous places, and for those who follow presidential election politics, Fairey was the person who designed the 2008 Barack Obama “Hope” campaign poster. This piece is located in a parking lot around the corner from the F train’s York Street Station, near the underpass.

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This mural was designed by Japanese artist Yuko Shimizu (currently living in New York City), and painted by Coby Kennedy. This mural (and another one as well), are located in the underpass right up the street from the York Street station.

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There is a long, colorful mural by local artist Craig Anthony Miller, also known as “CAM,” that is visible through the trees. Somehow, even thought this mural is partially obscured, it didn’t bother me that I couldn’t see it fully, as it seemed like the owls were peering through the trees at me!

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Craig Anthony Miller and Tron Warren painted this Aztec-themed mural for Pedro’s, a Spanish and Mexican restaurant in Dumbo.

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There are also other interesting smaller art pieces, many of them illicit wheat paste pieces (where flour paste is used to adhere artwork to buildings), or stenciled work. This skateboarder is by WK, also known as WK Interact. Supposedly he has 7 different pieces up around Dumbo, and I was able to find two in my walk.

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I also liked this doorway.

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And here’s a little bit of interesting graffiti on the side of a garbage dumpster cover – showing that you never know when you may find something interesting or provocative. Here’s the stick bug:

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There’s one more place you’ll want to go during your visit to Dumbo – Brooklyn Bridge Park. Learn more about Brooklyn Bridge Park in this post.

How can you get to Dumbo? If you walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn, the path across the bridge basically ends in Dumbo. If traveling by subway, take the A or C trains to High Street or the F train to York Street.

25 thoughts on “Exploring Brooklyn’s Dumbo Neighborhood

  1. What an amazing photo of the Empire State Building framed through the bridge on Washington Street! The Brooklyn Flea at DUMBO in the sunny weather looks interesting, too. Can’t wait to make a ‘warmer weather’ return and sample some of the street food there. BTW returned home to warm weather and even used our BBQ for the first time this year!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You definitely will have to come back again in warmer weather! There is so much to do outside. Although you actually did quite a bit outside despite the freezing cold weather while you were here! Glad things have warmed up at home – we have been having some really nice weather here as well, now that the spring rains appear to be over.

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    1. I think Dumbo is much more interesting on the weekends, when the Brooklyn Flea is going on. And it does help to have someone local tell you where to look for the special things – I know when we travel our best finds are often things that locals told us about. Next time you visit you will have all kinds of options you didn’t know about before!

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  2. The guy with the globes has found his niche and is ticking with it. It is always interesting to see what people are selling. The art is great. The portraits by Klaus Enrique are thought provoking, especially the one of Gandhi. Not just what did he use but why did he use it.
    If you find out who did the wheatpaste let us know. That is good work and I would love to do a post on the artist.
    There is so much good street art in NYC–so jealous.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a photo of another wheatpaste that I think was done by the same artist – if I am able to find out who the artist is, I will send both photos to you. You’re right – the street art in NYC is absolutely amazing – I’ve got hundreds and hundreds of photos of murals, wheatpastes, stencils, etc. so far. It’s too much for the blog, with my larger theme, but I try to put them up on Instagram when I get the chance. I’m really behind though, as it is a pain to switch the photos to my phone so I can post them (they were taken with my camera). Hopefully you can visit New York at some point – I’d be happy to show you some of my favorite street art spots!

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      1. I actually went to the @catscoffeecreativity instagram feed, and scrolled through until I found something that had the same style. Her gallery is often my starting point for my research of NYC street art, as she just has so much up, and she’s much more accurate than many.

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      1. Thanks so much for the offer. I don’t yet know how we will spend out time, but we arrive on Saturday 28th afternoon and head off to New Haven on Tuesday 31st morning, so time very limited. My children 13 and 11 are just so excited they don’t mind what they do. My son wants to see some skate shops. We will be staying near Penn Station.

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  3. I’ve read about the area before but never in such detail, Susan. It looks fascinating! I do like your ‘dogs’ and the Ghandi is amazing. All those years ago, I used to have one of those globes too. I wouldn’t mind another. 🙂 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

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