I have a lot of books about New York. I have slightly fewer than I had last year as one of my New Year’s resolutions was to clear out at least some of them. As I sorted through the titles however, I noticed that the majority of these titles were essentially about Manhattan. I admit – I can be overly Manhattan-centric myself here on Greater Gotham but I am trying to be aware of that tendency and trying to overcome it.
Therefore, I went to browse the vast and virtual online shelves for new titles to enhance my geographically wider, all-embracing library. Here’s what I’ve found so far. I’ll have to pick and choose which to start with but I was so pleased to find so many choices that I had to share the bounty! Brooklyn this time around. Queens, Staten Island and The Bronx to follow.
Brooklyn: histories, photo collections, guidebooks, and maps.
- Architectural Guidebook to Brooklyn
- Battle of Brooklyn 1776
- Brooklyn: A Journey Through the City of Dreams
- Brooklyn: A State of Mind
- Brooklyn by Name: How the Neighborhoods, Streets, Parks, Bridges and More Got Their Names
- Brooklyn Modern: Architecture, Interiors & Design
- Brooklyn: People and Places, Past and Present
- Brooklyn Storefronts
- Brooklyn: The Ultimate Guide to New York’s Most Happening Borough
- Brooklyn Was Mine
- Flatbush: The Heart Of Brooklyn
- Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge
- Historic Photos of Brooklyn
- In the Country of Brooklyn: Inspiration to the World
- It Happened in Brooklyn: An Oral History of Growing Up in the Borough in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s
- Neighborhoods of Brooklyn
- Not For Tourists Guide 2009 to Brooklyn
- Walking Brooklyn: 30 Tours Exploring Historical Legacies, Neighborhood Culture, Side Streets and Waterways
- Old Brooklyn in Early Photographs, 1865-1929
- Streetwise Brooklyn Street Map
Anyway – the list could go on and on and on. There were many more older titles as well that I could have listed. Possibly I will attempt a more complete borough bibliography one day. Though I suspect it could be a life time project to do something of that scope. So let us call it a “work in progress” – and I shall add them to the Greater Gotham store as we go as well.
One of the most exciting things happening in Manhattan this summer is the creation of more pedestrian promenades. Some are temporary and some are permanent but all are a welcome addition, as far as I am concerned.
Some seriously major streets are going all foot traffic for a period of time – albeit temporarily – this summer. Yup, the city is closing off to traffic a 6.9-mile route from the Brooklyn Bridge to East 72nd Street from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. on three consecutive Saturdays in August. Bliss! And more than that, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is a long and honored tradition here in the city!
And – more long-term joy for those of us who consider walking the city one of the great joys in life – starting on August 15th, Broadway between 42nd to 35th Streets will be opened as a bike path and pedestrian plaza featuring chairs, tables, benches, umbrellas and planters. The bike lane and plaza areas will be set off from the street and each other by a coat of small-grained gravel mixed with epoxy onto the pedestrian areas. Is it a perfect plan? No. Only a crazy person would put the plaza areas between the cars and the bikes (shall we start calculating now how many bike/pedestrian collisions will occur as people try to get from the sidewalk to the plaza?). And honestly, how relaxing can it be to sit under an umbrella (assuming it hasn’t been stolen or vandalized within days) within a foot or two of some of the worst traffic in the city? Not very. But the idea is a good one. A solid one and should be encouraged as something to spawn other similar areas.
And please – don’t whinge about the traffic. Cars are NOT king in New York and I can’t believe the number of people who have been carrying on like this is the end of the world. Hey, we all know driving in the city is a hassle and guess what? This isn’t going to make it any better. Have you considered the train?
I know what you’re thinking – “Enough about Manhattan! What about Brooklyn?” – and you’re right. I have focused a little heavily (ok, a lot heavily) on Manhattan and that’s because I live here. It’s easily accessible. Hell, it’s right outside my front door and it teems with stories, life and trivia enough for many lifetimes. But I do not say that Brooklyn (or indeed any of the other boroughs) are not similarly teeming. They are. How do I know?
Because there are plenty of people blogging about their neck of the woods and they are doing it with style, humor, insight and – occasional – obsessiveness. Check them out.
- Brooklyn Heights Blog – what’s what in Brooklyn Heights
- Bed-Stuy Blog – the people, the places and events that make Bedford-Stuyvesant Bed Stuy
- Clinton Hill blog – a close up look at why people love this neighborhood
- Dumbo NYC – keeping on top of this ever changing neighborhood
- Greenpointers – so hip, so near and yet so far (don’t believe me? Try catching the G line sometime)
- Gowanus Lounge – life in post-industrial Brooklyn
- Brownstoner – Brooklyn real estate and renovation and everything that goes with it
There are many more Brooklyn blogs, of course. And in the near future, I hope to peruse more of them and highlight some of what they offer. In fact, there’s an awful lot happening in Brooklyn in general, you know and if you didn’t you ought to.
Like what, you ask?
Well, let’s start with the fact that it is home to two of New York’s most famous restaurants – the River Cafe and Peter Lugers. Don’t care about name dropping? Don’t worry – the borough is awash with great places to tuck in and nosh the day away. The shopping in Brooklyn long ago became reason enough to head out there. Over in Brooklyn has chosen some of the best of Brooklyn in many categories – burgers, wine shops, sushi, pizza, boutiques, kid’s activities, parks, etc. Want an official take on things? Try VisitBrooklyn, a site maintained by the Brooklyn Tourism and Visitors Center.
Naturally, I can’t do justice to the place in one post. First of all – hello? It’s huge and it’s neighborhoods so distinct and unique, they should be treated individually. I hope to include some of those neighborhood close-ups soon and welcome input and suggestions for Brooklynites and others who have a soft spot for the place.