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.

Staten Island Ferry

For many New Yorkers, the Staten Island Ferry is a means to commute to work, but it can also be an opportunity to see the city from a different perspective. You can take some great photos of the downtown Manhattan skyline from the ferry, and you have two opportunities to do so – as you head away from Manhattan towards Staten Island, and again as you head back to the city on the return trip. And one of the best things about the Staten Island Ferry: it’s absolutely free!

Here are a couple of examples of the photos you can take from the ferry. The day that I took these photos, the air was a bit hazy, but you can still see the possibilities. First, here’s the look back at the Whitehall Terminal on the southern tip of Manhattan, where I boarded the ferry.

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I took this photo of the skyline which shows both the possibilities but also the drawbacks of shooting photos on a hazy day. The tallest building is One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower, built near the site of the 9/11 Memorial.

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As the ferry travels further from Manhattan, the perspective changes further.

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You may also get good photos of the Brooklyn Bridge and Governor’s Island, depending on your location on the ferry.

As we traveled further, we passed a ferry going the opposite direction. This is what the Staten Island Ferry looks like.

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The ferry also passes by the Statue of Liberty. She’s still some distance away, but with a good camera you can capture some special shots.

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If you’re thinking of taking a ride on the Staten Island Ferry, here are some things you should know. First, remember that locals use the ferry to get to work every day. That means that the ferry is most crowded during peak commuting times in the morning and early evening. You will have better views – meaning you will have better photo ops as well – if you travel on the ferry outside of those peak times. You can access the ferry schedule here. The ferry runs 24 hours a day. You will experience great views during daylight hours, but it can also be a magical way to view the city after the sun has set at night. Keep in mind the weather as well. If it is raining, foggy, or hazy, your views will not be as good. If it is cold or windy, make sure you are bundled up. The best views are from the outside deck areas, and the wind is even colder when the ferry is moving.

It’s also helpful to know what to expect at the ferry terminals. There is no waiting in line. When the doors open for boarding, you just work your way with the rest of the crowd to board. If you are uncomfortable in large crowds, you may find the boarding process intimidating. There is some seating where you can wait prior to boarding, as well as decent public restroom facilities.

Where can you catch the Staten Island Ferry? In Manhattan, you can catch the ferry at the Whitehall Terminal at the southern tip of the island, near downtown. To get to the Whitehall Terminal, take the 4 or 5 train to the Bowling Green station, the J or Z trains to the Broad Street station, the R train to Whitehall Street station, or the 1 train to South Ferry (make sure you are on one of the first five cars for the 1 train).

From Staten Island, you can take the Staten Island Railroad to the St. George Ferry Terminal. Numerous buses also go to the St. George Ferry Terminal, although some only run on weekdays. For more information about getting to the ferry terminals, please see the Staten Island Ferry’s website here.

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.