Brooklyn Bridge Park

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Whether you’re exploring the Brooklyn neighborhood of Dumbo, as we did here in my last post, or walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, you should include a visit to the Brooklyn Bridge Park as part of your adventure. Stretching along the Brooklyn waterfront along the East River, the park offers amazing views of Manhattan, the Manhattan Bridge, and the Brooklyn Bridge. If you look further north, you may even catch a glimpse of the Williamsburg Bridge. (Trying to remember what the various New York City bridges look like? There are photos of the major ones here.)

One of the features of Brooklyn Bridge Park is Jane’s Carousel, built in 1922. The carousel once resided in Youngstown, Ohio, but after restoration came to rest here in Brooklyn, in a beautiful glass box. The carousel has 48 hand-carved wooden horses in all.

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There’s a walkway stretching along the waterfront that provides great views of the bridges and Manhattan skyline.

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You’ll find areas to sit and take a break for a while.

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There’s even a small beach area called Pebble Beach.

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You can also find temporary art installations, such as Brooklyn artist Deborah Kass’s sculpture, OY/YO. If you look at the sculture from the Brooklyn side, it reads “Oy.” From the Manhattan side, it reads “Yo.” This sculpture will be on exhibit in the park through August 2016.

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How can you get to Brooklyn Bridge Park? If you walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn, the path across the bridge basically ends in Dumbo. Once you leave the bridge, walk back towards the riverfront and you will see the park. If traveling by subway, take the A or C trains to High Street or the F train to York Street, and then walk back towards the bridges to the park.

This post is also part of Jo’s Monday Walks. If you haven’t had the chance to explore Jo’s blog, I recommend it! In addition to writing about her own walks and other adventures, Jo also links to other bloggers’ walks – I’ve found many other great bloggers by reading her Monday Walks posts each week. Jo’s blog is found here, and her explanation of the Monday Walks is found here.

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.

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

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When many visitors think of New York City landmarks, one of the first things that comes to mind is the Brooklyn Bridge. Millions of people walk the Brooklyn Bridge each year, making it one of the most popular locations in the city. What makes the bridge so accessible to pedestrians is an elevated walkway which allows pedestrians to remain safe from traffic and offers incredible views of both Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The bridge’s popularity also means that it can be extremely crowded in good weather and during peak times, such as weekends. If possible, try to visit the Brooklyn Bridge early in the day on weekdays (or late in the evening, as you can admire the city lights from the bridge). Make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes – the pedestrian path over the Brooklyn Bridge is over 1.1 miles long (about 1.8 kilometers).

The pedestrian walkway is fairly narrow, with one side reserved for cyclists. Be careful not to accidentally step in front of a cyclist, as they fly by at a rapid pace!

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If you look northward from the bridge, you can catch glimpses of the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building in the distance.

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Looking south, there is the city’s financial district and the Southside Seaport. (You may catch a glimpse of the masts of one of the historic ships moored at the South Street Seaport Museum.)

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As you walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, you will have a good view of another iconic New York City bridge as well – the Manhattan Bridge.

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Some visitors attach locks to the bridge to commemorate their love, but New York City’s Department of Transportation discourages this practice and regularly cuts the locks off the bridge. (The locks can do damage to the bridge, and, if someone drops a lock, it can fall onto the lanes of traffic below.)

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How do you get to the Brooklyn Bridge? If coming from Manhattan, there are several subway lines that will bring you close to the entrance to the pedestrian walkway over the bridge. Take the R train to the City Hall station, the 4, 5, or 6 trains to the Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall Station, the J, Z, A, or C trains to the Chambers Street stations, or the 2 or 3 trains to Park Place. If starting from the Brooklyn side, take the A or C trains to High Street or the F train to York Street.

Exploring ID Pop Shop

After my recent posts about the Chelsea Market and Artists & Fleas at Chelsea Market, the people associated with ID Pop Shop invited me to visit their pop-up shop at Chelsea Market this week. I’m always looking for local artists and artisans–you never know what you might discover for yourself or as gifts for others. And the best part is supporting the creative and business efforts of fellow New Yorkers!

ID Pop Shop is short for Independent Designer Pop Shop. Founders Barbara Wilkinson and Raoul Calleja have carefully curated the ID Pop Shop to offer a variety of options to shoppers. Some artists and artisans routinely show their collections in the ID Pop Shop’s events, but new ones are added each time. The ID Pop Shop regularly sets up in the special event space on the first floor of the Chelsea Market (in fact, it’s been there more than 30 times since 2011), but it also utilizes other spaces.

Today, I thought I would focus on some of my favorite discoveries from my visit. I was immediately drawn to the wearable art of Pauletta Brooks. Pauletta’s jewelry is innovative and beautiful. Some pieces have a very strong presence, taking their cues from the gemstones and minerals that are her raw materials, but there are still delicate elements as well. I snapped a few photos of some of my favorite pieces:

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One thing I don’t often see at shows like this is millinery. Well-made hats have a functional purpose, but they can also be works of art! This ID Pop Shop featured the work of milliner Karema Deodato. As you can see from these photos, her hats are beautifully designed from high-quality materials. They would make a unique gift for someone special or a stylish finishing touch for a special outfit.

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ID Pop Shop co-founder Raoul Calleja’s booth, vernakular photo designs, was fun. Vernakular showcases independent photographers’ photographs in unique ways, by imposing the photos on other useful objects. My favorite items are the round manhole cover rugs, which come in a variety of patterns. (Funny story–I was told that a child who saw these rugs thought that a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle might be hidden underneath!)

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Barbara Wilkinson, the other co-founder of ID Pop Shop, has a booth displaying her delicate and beautiful jewelry designs. Barbara combines semi-precious gemstones from India with handcrafted pendants and charms from Indonesia and Thailand. I saw some necklaces that would make thoughtful holiday gifts:

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There were multiple artisans selling beautiful purses and bags. One of my favorites was Viva Zapata! These colorful bags are designed by Brooklyn resident Tania, and they have a great story. The vinyl used in these bags are leftover scraps from companies that manufacture the vividly-colored seat covers for buses in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The bags are then made by Argentinian tailors. These bags are delightful, with their thoughtful combinations of colors–even the zippers and linings are colorful, and each bag has several internal and external zippered compartments. Viva Zapata! bags are also vegan.

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I also loved Susannah Thompson‘s bags, which are made from denim, burlap, and canvas and are very durable. These bags would make a great tote bag to take towels, sunscreen, etc. to the beach, but you could also use one as an easy carry-on bag or daily work bag. The backpack bags in the second photograph are cute and stylish, with leather straps.

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Clothing designer Nina Valenti’s collection, naturevsfuture, is innovative, with unique details that catch the eye. I particularly loved this top’s design, as well as a number of her coats and jackets. The cut and seams create interesting angles in Nina’s designs, and the fabric feels comfortable and warm.

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Finally, I met Katya Slepak, the founder of Malaya Organics. Malaya Organics is a line of natural and organic beauty products, handcrafted in Brooklyn. I tried samples of the moisturizing body oil, rejuvenating face serum, and hair oil. It was raining the day of my visit, and my hair was wild and frizzy–I was impressed by how the hair oil smoothed my hair, and it smelled great as well! Malaya Organics also makes some lovely bath products, including soaps and bath salts.

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There were other great artists and artisans as well–these are just the ones that I had time to get to know during my visit. Because there are new people joining the ID Pop Shop for each event, it’s possible to find new treasures each time.

Although ID Pop Shop will be ending this particular event on November 1, you will be able to find them December 1-21 at a special pop-up shop space in the Meatpacking District: 446 West 14th Street, at the foot of the High Line. Maybe I’ll see you there! They also provide updates about upcoming events on their Facebook page.

Picturing Manhattan: Views from a Boat Tour

One way to get some great photographs of Manhattan is from the water. A few weeks ago, we decided to take a boat tour around the city. It was a bright, sunny day. Unfortunately, the warmer temperatures combined with the sun made the sky a little hazy. I was able to capture some good photographs, particularly of some of the bridges, but the skyline photographs were not as clear. Still, I think even those turned out pretty interesting!

There’s no better way to see the bridges of New York City than from a boat. I got some good shots of some of the most iconic ones. First, here are a couple of different views of the Brooklyn Bridge.

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Next, here is one of the George Washington Bridge. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the George Washington Bridge, claims that it is the busiest bridge in the world–but you couldn’t tell that from this photograph!

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The Manhattan Bridge, connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan’s Chinatown, makes for a good photograph or two.

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And here’s the Williamsburg Bridge, connecting the lower east side of Manhattan and Williamsburg, Brooklyn:

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And finally the Washington Bridge (not to be confused with the George Washington Bridge), connecting the Bronx to Manhattan. I like the combination of stone and steel on this bridge, which was built in built in the 1880s.

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It’s possible to get some interesting angles for photographs of the downtown skyline, including good view of One World Trade Center, now the tallest building in the Western hemisphere.

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If you go on the right day, you may even get some photographs of sailboats on the water.

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Of course, Manhattan boat tours also include the opportunity to take photographs of the Statute of Liberty, so here are a couple of those:

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Here’s one last shot from the back of the boat, as we traveled down the Hudson River during the tour.

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A little bit more about the tour: There are a lot of boat tours out there. We chose a tour that went all the way around the island of Manhattan because we had never had the opportunity to see the northern part from that vantage point. The tour lasted 2 1/2 hours, which to be honest is too long, especially in the sun. We splurged and upgraded our tickets with the promise of better, reserved seating, no lines, and free water. The seats were still not that comfortable, but they probably made it easier to get good photographs. For most people, a shorter tour that goes around the southern end of Manhattan would be sufficient–you still have the opportunity to see many of the bridges and the Statue of Liberty, and there are plenty of awe-inspiring views of Manhattan.