Friday, August 31, 2012

A park grows in Brooklyn

Because my brother moved to New York City thirty years ago, I know that city more than I know any other. Sad but true, I've spent tons more time in the Big Apple than I have in San Francisco, which is a mere 100 miles away. Now that my brother and his wife live in upstate NY, I get down to the city less often. But it still draws me.

Brooklyn Heights is the charming neighborhood nestled just south of the Brooklyn Bridge. Its calm, quaint tree-lined streets of brownstones are a welcome respite from the taller more gritty parts of the city. We have spent many nights sitting on the Promenade, a walkway overlooking the cityscape - a fabulous place to relax with gorgeous views. Unless you looked down. Down on the piers and docks and abandoned warehouses lining the East River. The kind of place where people named Vinny fitted guys with concrete shoes for a swim in the river.
View from Brooklyn Heights looking west

On our last trip there, things were changing big time. The old buildings were getting demolished and we saw loads and loads of trees in buckets ready for planting. Huh? How were they going to make a park out of all that mess? You can't just put a park in a former concrete jungle, can you? They can and they did.

Brooklyn Bridge Park is not finished yet, but there is enough done to see this is going to be a cool place. A large landscaped area with a big lawn puts a park right where the docks were. They show free movies in summer after the sun goes down. There's a pool with a beach and sand and sun umbrellas. People are swimming with a view of the skyline - without the concrete shoes. There are places to view the city right at water level, a ferry service, the restored Jane's Carousel, walking and biking paths, with shops and restaurants to come. And the best part is they got rid of Vinny and the warehouses.

View to the east
Freedom Tower is the tallest one in the middle