After two days at the US Open in New York City, we had really fallen in love with Brooklyn. This borough has a completely different feel than Manhattan, less glitzy, more residential with nice old established neighbourhoods, and most of the areas we visited, including Midwood and Williamsburg, seemed very safe.
My goal for this September 3, 2011 was to explore Brooklyn in more detail, which, with is more than 2.5 million residents, is the most populous of New York City’s boroughs. If the New York City boroughs were separate cities, Brooklyn would be the third largest city in the United States, after L.A. and Chicago. Brooklyn is a veritable melting pot of ethnicities, with large Jewish, Latino and Black American communities. The Midwood area where we were staying was largely Orthodox Jewish, and Friday evening and Saturday were very quiet due to the Jewish Sabbath or day of rest.
Brooklyn has long had a strong representation in the media, particularly through the films of Spike Lee who shot his famous movies “She’s Gotta Have It” and “Do The Right Thing” here. It is also a large centre for culture and the performing arts, with outstanding institutions such as the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Brooklyn Museum (the second largest arts museum in the United States), and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the oldest such museum in the world.
While my husband was going to do some shopping, I was planning to explore this famous borough in a special way: on two wheels. After a bit of research I discovered that Bike and Roll had an outlet on Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn and this is where my husband dropped me off to pick up my bike. For $35 I assured myself five or six hours of certain fun, combined with a good calorie burnout.
My starting point, Grand Army Plaza, is a large oval public space from where eight radial roads depart. The huge Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch is located at the south end of the oval and faces the entrance to Prospect Park, New York City’s second largest part, after Central Park. From here I crossed the busy road and made my way down the hill and westwards on President Street, past lovely historic brownstone row houses under a canopy of tall leafy trees.
On 4th Avenue I turned right and rode towards the centre of downtown Brooklyn where I admired the iconic Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower, an impressive 37-storey stepped-back Art Deco skyscraper built in 1927. Downtown Brooklyn has quite an impressive skyline that gets overshadowed by Manhattan, its bigger cousin across the East River.