A recent meeting brought me to downtown Brooklyn, and if you have to ask where that is, then you don’t know Brooklyn. I took the opportunity to walk over to the Dumbo section, which is just north of the Brooklyn Bridge and right on the water. This area has gone through a revival of late and is home to St. Ann's Warehouse, which in avant-garde theater. Right next door to the theater is Time-Out Magazine’s new addition, a five-story refurbished, pre-civil war coffee warehouse that now houses restaurants, bars and shops. The place keeps the original vibe and has spectacular views of Manhattan. Down below are Brooklyn Bridge Park, which includes a large glass enclosed merry-go-round, cultivated walking paths and open access to the East River. In a word, it is special.
As you walk south, away from Brooklyn Bridge Park, you walk past the Bridge Café, Buzzy O’Keefe’s barged restaurant under the Brooklyn Bridge, a place for special occasions. And right next to that is the NYC Ferry that links you to Wall Street, where you can transfer for free back to Rockaway. If you continue on, you will enter Brooklyn Bridge Park, which sits right on the water and includes several paths that wind through beautifully planted fields of sea grass, trees and bushes. Further still, the park becomes a mecca for basketball, soccer, bike riding and joggers. You can walk all the way to the foot of Atlantic Avenue, where yet another NYC ferry stop awaits you.
If you take the opportunity to walk up Atlantic Avenue, go to Hicks Street and make a left, and then another left at State Street ‘til you come to Willow Street, then go right. You will feel like you have entered another century, and not last century but two centuries ago. This area has the most pre-civil war homes around and will take your breath away. When you get to the dead end, make a right back to Hicks. You will walk past Grace Church, if it’s open, take a peek inside, it’s beautiful; in fact, on this walk, if you see any open church, go in, they are all worth the look. When you get to Joralemon Street, go left to Willow again then right and take Willow all the way. Most people will tell you to walk the promenade, which overlooks the bay and city, but I find the homes along Willow more interesting. Orange Street has Plymouth Church, home to the underground railroad during the Civil War and the abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher.
Make a right off Willow at Middagh Street, one of Brooklyn’s oldest and where you can find wooden houses built prior to 1820. You will also notice in this area that streets are named after fruits. Legend has it that the Middagh family didn’t like the original families the streets were named after, so they replaced the street signs with the fruit names. A battle of wills with the city ensued with the Middaghs finally getting their way!
No trip to Brooklyn Heights would be complete without a walk down Montague Street, and there you will find St. Ann’s Church, which again if it’s open—definitely go in, you will recognize it instantly from multiple movie and TV shows.
You will probably end up at Brooklyn Borough Hall. The courts are right here, and an elevated train once went from here over the bridge right into the Municipal Building on the NYC side. And don’t forget Remsen Street, home to St. Francis College.
It’s a lot of walking but well worth it, and best done in late afternoon so you can savor the fantastic sunset over the harbor, through the misty streets of the heights, just as if it were 1817! Enjoy!