Since world wide travel opportunities are still limited, making day trips to nearby sites has been my go to for adventure this spring. We will be moving from New York soon, so I have scoured the internet with nearby places of interest to visit before we become full time Floridians.
Brooklyn has had a surge of lively interest with young professionals moving into areas that were considered sketchy or even dangerous back in the 1980s. The area under the Brooklyn Bridge, known as DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is one of the most visited and trendy sections of Brooklyn. When we were dating, Pete and I went to a Broadway show and then out to dinner at the River Cafe which sits under the Brooklyn Bridge floating on a barge in the East River. The dress code is men in jackets for this fabulous restaurant with impressive views of the downtown Manhattan skyline. You can read about that adventure here: A New York City night out on the town.
That was my first trip to Brooklyn and it was impressive yet I wanted to spend more time in the area, specifically walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. So when my sister came up to visit a few weeks ago I mentioned this activity on my bucket list of things to do in New York before I move and she was in. Her daughters were excited to join us and had the most fun creating memorable Instagram award winning photos!
For us it made sense to drive into New York City. We were coming from a visit upstate in Beacon, New York and Brooklyn would be, sort of, on our way home to Long Island. I have driven in New York City before but it can be stressful. Luckily my 24 year old niece offered to take the steering wheel, so my job was to simply keep the phone charged with directions for a parking garage near the Brooklyn side of the bridge.
The first garage we approached was already filled at 12:00 noon on a Monday, but after a few turns we found another parking garage. The fee was $25 for 10 hours so we took our water bottles and left the car there for the day. Our first stop was Pebble Beach which we found by accident. We witnessed 3 circus acrobats doing handstands on the beach. While that was fun to see, it was more fun to stand on the rocks and take photos of ourselves with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background.
The Time Out Market by the Brooklyn Bridge had great write ups and we were excited to try out some amazing food choices. Unfortunately, the restaurants and outdoor deck on the roof are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. So we continued to wander and look for something to eat before starting our one mile trek across the bridge.
Grimaldis has been voted as the best New York pizza in Brooklyn, so we decided to give it a try. No slices are available, you must order an entire pie but it is well worth it. The brick oven pizza was cooked perfectly and we enjoyed some salads and hydrating drinks before our walk.
It was hot, 90 degrees, the day we went but there is a nice breeze on the bridge and it even rained for a few minutes. We weren’t really sure how to get onto the bridge, but we just looked up and followed the bridge and the people until we saw the staircase to climb. Once on the bridge, you need to quickly move to the left side. The right side as you are heading towards Manhattan is for bicyclists, and they go pretty fast.
COVID is just ending and so a few people continued to wear masks outside on the bridge as we were all pretty close together, but most folks did not wear a mask. Stopping to take photos is common so don’t walk across the bridge if you plan to get somewhere in a hurry. If you do need to pass people, look both ways before entering the bike lanes.
Some fun facts we learned before our trip were that the bridge was built and open to the public in 1883. Prior to the bridge, people had to take boats back and forth from Manhattan and traffic on the water was terrible. Pedestrians were charged a penny for the bridge toll, horses with riders were charged 5 cents, and it cost 10 cents for horse and wagons.
Six days after the bridge was built, a tragic stampede occurred because people thought the bridge was collapsing. 12 people died. The next year, P.T. Barnum led 21 circus elephants across the bridge to help reassure New Yorkers that the bridge was safe.
Emily Warren Roebling was the first woman to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and may have been the actual designer and supervisor of the construction. Her husband, Washington Roebling, suffered 2 attacks of the “bends” caused by coming up too quickly in the compressed air chambers used to lay the foundations underwater. Emily rose to the challenge and finished the work started by Washington.
In 2006 people were surprised to discover a Cold War era bomb shelter in a stone arch on the Manhattan side of the bridge. The forgotten vault was filled with medications, water, blankets and crackers from the 1950s when nuclear war seemed possible with the Soviets.
As we walked under the twin gothic arches, vendors were set up selling fruit, water, hats and trinkets. My sister and I both purchased new Brooklyn hats for $5 each.
Due to the heat I had not thought I would walk all the way across the bridge, but once up there we just kept going. When we arrived in Manhattan we walked right across to City Hall Park. A pretty fountain and benches in the shady park made for a nice place to sit and relax with an ice cold latte from nearby Starbucks.
Of course, since we were so close, after a short respite we continued on our walking tour towards the Freedom Tower. At the 9/11 memorial we were asked to wear masks to walk around the two square pools where the twin towers stood. Each pool is surrounded by the names of the victims from that awful day. Every year on the birthday, a white rose is placed on that person’s name. Over 400 trees fill the Memorial plaza making it a beautiful and peaceful place to reflect.
Meandering through the streets with no particular agenda we passed historic Trinity Church and although we couldn’t go inside (COVID) we were pleasantly surprised to see Alexander Hamilton’s tomb from the cemetery behind the gates. The current church building was erected from 1839 to 1846 and was the tallest building in the United States until 1869.
For our walk back across the Brooklyn Bridge, we met up with my niece’s friend from college. The girls had a great time taking amazing photos on the bridge and we passed a few bride, groom and proposal photo shoots as the sun was setting over Manhattan.
Once over the bridge we enjoyed the free art show featuring over 40 photographers called the Photoville Fence. Posted along the fence and sidewalks in the DUMBO area the exhibit will only be available in June but more art festivals are planned for the summer.
We were fortunate to get to Luke’s Lobster – voted New York’s Best Lobster Rolls just before they closed at 8:00 pm. You purchase lobster rolls and drinks at the window and then sit at the outdoor tables or take them to nearby Brooklyn Bridge park for a tasty meal. The same view as the fancy River Cafe at a fraction of the cost.
Driving home to our house on Long Island took approximately one hour as expected. The roads weren’t all that difficult to navigate, and since she drove in NYC, my Florida niece can now drive anywhere! Definitely worth a visit. The Brooklyn Bridge is 1.3 miles total from end to end and there is a slight incline which would be more difficult riding a bicycle. A fun day filled with fabulous memories and photos!