Tag Archives: Walking in Brooklyn

Day One Hundred and Thirty-Six: Visiting Brooklyn for ‘Rose Night’ at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden & trip to Coney Island June 12th, 2019

If you have never visited the Brooklyn Botanical Garden when visiting New York City you are missing a lot. I have been a member of the garden since 2002 and fell in love with walking around the gardens when visiting the Brooklyn Museum next door.  It is the most relaxing place to walk around and just think. It is also nice to grab a book, sit under a tree and just relax.

One of the benefits of membership are the private event nights that the Gardens have for its members. ‘Rose Night’ is one of my favorites. This is when the Crawford Rose Garden and the surrounding rose gardens to the main one are in full bloom and on display. Because the weather has been so hot lately most plants have been blooming about two weeks ahead of their normal schedule.

The Crawford Rose Garden was no exception as the recent hot weather and two rain storms put some strain on the rose bushes and some of them were going out of bloom the night of the party. Still the roses were ablaze with color and the fragrant smells of the garden were prevalent all over the garden. The event draws a very large crowd and people were all over the place picnicking and relaxing while listening to a jazz band that was performing inside the cherry trees.

Rose Night Brooklyn Botanical Garden II

I started my day working at the Soup Kitchen working in the prep kitchen for the morning. They kept me busy making a cucumber and tomato salad and cutting kale for a side dish they were making the next day. One thing I like about working at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen is that the work is never dull. They always keep me busy.

Since I had plenty of time before the event, I decided to take a trip down to Coney Island to explore any changes that were going on in the amusement center. I wanted to visit the New York Aquarium and see the new ‘Shark Tanks’ exhibition and revisit the Coney Island Museum. When I arrived at the beach about 45 minutes later it was beautiful, clear and sunny on Surf Avenue.

The afternoon started out at Nathan’s at 1310 Surf Avenue for lunch (see review on TripAdvisor). I swear that I eat at Nathan’s in the suburb malls and it never tastes as good as it does in the original restaurant on Coney Island. Be prepared to face the lines for the rest of the summer as beach season approaches.

Nathan's Coney Island II.jpg

Nathan’s Coney Island at 1310 Surf Avenue

Their hot dogs and French fries are the best but they do not come cheap. I think this restaurant is getting more and more geared to tourists wanting to visit Coney Island. The hot dog was $4.75 and the French fries were  $3.75, which is a little ridiculous considering a pack of their hot dogs are $1.99 and a bag of their frozen French fries are $1.99 on sale at the supermarket.

Still their hot dogs were delicious. They have a nice garlicky snap to them and are nicely grilled and their French fries are cooked to perfection. It is nice to enjoy your lunch at their outside tables where you can breath in the fresh salt air. After finishing my lunch, I visited the New York Aquarium at 602 Surf Avenue.

 

Nathan's Coney Island IV

Nathan’s Hot Dogs and French fries

The aquarium is finally updating itself as this is the first addition to the park in years. I got there in time before the last sea lion show and that was fun. The ‘Sea Lion Celebration’ as they call it takes place in the summer at 11:00am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm and 5:30pm. The trainers look like they are having a good time with animals. These sea lions were born and raised at the aquarium so they are used to being around humans. The surprising part is that they act like humans with their responses. Unlike a zoo, these mammals get out and get their exercise. It is an interesting show as they are very talented and seem to enjoy working with the trainers.

New York Aquarium.jpg

New York Aquarium at 602 Surf Avenue

I was able to walk through the ‘Ocean Wonders: Sharks!” exhibition before the aquarium closed for the evening. I found it fascinating about the history of sharks and their place in ocean world and where they are on the feeding scale. They hardly care about eating humans and like one of the displays said that ‘Jaws’ gave them a bad wrap. They are bottom dwellers who eat all the things that are ‘left over’ and are a good cleanser for the sea.

New York Aquarium III.jpg

The Shark Tanks

We as humans unfortunately over-fish them or with some of the Asian countries, they will cut off the fins of the sharks for meat and then throw them back into the sea where they drown, which I think it the cruelest thing you can do to an animal. Its like being buried alive and the aquarium showed the results of what happens to this fish when it happens.

The last large tank before you leave has several variety of sharks and fish which sets up an almost feeding ecosystem for them and it looks almost graceful watching the sea go by. They even have a small crawl tunnel where you can travel under the fish to see them up close. At the top of the exhibition, they have a new restaurant, ‘Oceanview Bites’.

New York Aquarium II

The tunnel under the tanks

After the aquarium, I visited the Coney Island Museum at 1208 Surf Avenue (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). This is the most underrated museum that covers the history of Coney Island from just being dunes that Walt Whitman read poetry on to the modern day amusement parks to current developments.

The museum covers this history of the three great amusement parks, Steeplechase, Luna and Dreamland Parks especially in their heyday. The amusement area of Coney Island still is considered one of the most innovative in history and most developments in amusement rides took place in Coney Island.

Coney Island Museum

The Coney Island Museum at 1208 Surf Avenue

Each room covers a part of the history of Coney Island from its years as a luxury resort, to seaside travel to the island, development of the amusement industry, to modern times and what the new developments might bring to the area. I was lucky enough to meet the curator of the museum, Lisa Mangels-Schaefer, whose family has a rich history on the island as a manufacturer of amusement rides. Her grandfather had manufactured and maintained many of the amusement rides in the park.

As the only two at the museum at the time, she gave me a personal tour of the museum, explaining the many displays and artifacts of the museum. She also told me stories of how her family used to manufacture the amusement rides back at the turn of the last century.

Coney Island Museum II

Some of the manufactured items by Ms. Mangels-Schaefer’s family

There are a lot of interesting artifacts at the museum from illuminated post cards to old amusement rides to many nostalgic pictures of the area from various times of history. Each gallery covers another theme of the history of the area.  Don’t miss  the displays of the amusement rides and the hall of fun house mirrors. For a $5.00, this museum is a real treat.

After the museum, I walked on the boardwalk for awhile and then just put my feet in the ocean. After a long day of working in the kitchen, it started to catch up to me. It was nice to feel the cool water and breath in the salt air. Coney Island has its problems as I could see but still it is a place to relax and have fun. I just laid on the beach, relaxed and let the sun shine down on me. The view of the Rockaways in the distance is really nice and on a clear sunny day, the views were wonderful.

Coney Island Beach.jpg

Coney Island Beach

By 5:00pm, it was time to go back up to the Botanical Garden for the ‘Rose Night’ cocktail party and tours. I was smart taking the Q back as I got off by the back entrance and did not have to face the crowds of the main entrance by the Brooklyn Museum. I got there at the opening at 6:30pm and the place was already mobbed with people. The main part of the gardens by the cherry trees must have had about three hundred people sitting down having their picnic dinner.

While everyone else was conversing on the main lawn, I took the time to walk the gardens and see the Crawford Rose Gardens in bloom. It had been hot over the last two months and all the flowers were blooming two weeks earlier than usual so a lot of roses had already bloomed and had fallen off the branches due to two recent rain storms.

Still there were lot of species of roses and many were still at the height of blooming and made a very colorful and fragrant display while touring the paths. Many types of roses had the big blooms and smelled like perfume. Others lined the trellises and created a beautiful display overhead. You really have to take your time to admire the true beauty of the garden which only has about two weeks of blooming.

Rose Night Brooklyn Botanical Garden

Crawford Rose Garden

After I left the Crawford Rose Garden, I walked the back fountain area which had large rose bushes that were all in bloom. The fountain had been cleaned and turned on for the event so it made quite an impression in color and design with the way the rose bushes were growing.

For the rest of the evening, I walked all the different garden concepts from the Rock Gardens to the Shakespeare Gardens to the new water recycling gardens that had just been completed. All the tulip, daffodil and magnolia gardens were long gone but still a good memory of visiting a couple of months earlier.

The only problem with the event is that it has gotten so big. When it was much smaller it was more intimate and concentrated in one part of the garden but now there are more members and it is the first official ‘picnic night’ in the garden so it has gotten crowded. Also they stopped making that wonderful ‘rose cocktail’ they used to make for the event and had canned and bottled beverages that were between $8.00 to $12.00 which I thought was a little ridiculous. I know you have to raise money but $8.00 for a non-alcoholic canned beverage? I waited to go to Family Pizza at 720 Flatbush Avenue (see review on TripAdvisor) for some dinner.

Still it was nice to have the gardens for the members only night and the newly renovated Japanese Gardens had opened again so I spent the last part of the evening walked around the wooded paths and stopping at the pagoda to look at the man-made lake that now feed the entire Botanical Garden its water supply. You could still hear the jazz band on the main lawn from here and it was a nice place to just sit and relax and enjoy the sun setting.

It is a simple evening of walking paths and looking at flowers while listening to music but still isn’t that what a pleasant evening in a garden is supposed to be?

 

Development in Coney Island in the future:

 

Coney Island Development under Mayor Bloomberg:

Places to Visit:

 

Coney Island Museum

1208 Surf Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11224

(718) 372-5159

https://www.coneyisland.com/programs/coney-island-museum718

Open: Sunday 2:00pm-6:00pm/Closed Monday and Tuesday/Wednesday-Saturday 12:00pm-6:00pm

Fee: $5.00

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d555621-Reviews-The_Coney_Island_Museum-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1978

 

New York Aquarium

602 Surf Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11224

(718) 265-3474

https://nyaquarium.com/

Open: Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:00pm/Saturday and Sunday 10:00am-5:30pm

Fee:  Adults (13 & Over) $24.95/Children 3-12 $24.95/Children under 2 Free/Seniors $26.95-Check the website for seasonality

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d107414-Reviews-New_York_Aquarium-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3619

 

Brooklyn Botanical Garden

990 Washington Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11225

(718) 623-7200

https://www.bbg.org/

Open: Saturday and Sunday 10:00am-6:00pm/Monday-Friday 8:00am-6:00pm

My review on Tripadvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d103900-Reviews-Brooklyn_Botanic_Garden-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2785

 

Places to Eat:

Nathan’s Coney Island

1310 Surf Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11224

(718) 333-2202

Open: Sunday-Thursdays 10:00am-11:00pm/Friday-Saturday 10:00am-12:00pm

https://nathansfamous.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60827-d458011-Reviews-Nathan_s_Famous-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Family Pizza

720 Flatbush Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11225

(718) 462-0639

Open: Sunday-Saturday 11:00am-11:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60827-d4966907-Reviews-Family_Pizza-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

Day Eighty-Seven: A Trip to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden for Members Movie Night August 23rd, 2017

I took some time before I start the next section of the walk to travel to Brooklyn to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden (See reviews on TripAdvisor and my blog ‘VisitingaMuseum’). I have been a member for over a decade and I am glad that my donation helps support the gardens. It is so much fun to walk around these beautiful individual gardens.

I got to Brooklyn too late to visit the zoo or the Brooklyn Museum, so I took a walk to my favorite pizzeria in the area, Family Pizza at 720 Flatbush Avenue in Flatbush (See review on TripAdvisor). Their pizza is amazing and if you are in the area, walk down Flatbush Avenue for a slice. Even at the $2.75 price per slice, it is still great pizza. The sauce is so delicious and really makes their pizza.

Family Pizza.jpg

Family Pizza on Flatbush Avenue at 720 Flatbush Avenue

I have never seen a neighborhood change so fast. It is going from a West Indian and Caribbean Black neighborhood to hipster central.  I have never seen a place change so much in an eight month period. Every time I walk down this street, it looks like another ten businesses have left and the ‘for rent’ signs keep going up. All the local businesses are being replaced by all the frou-frou restaurants and shops that cater to the hipsters.

As all the new buildings keep going up all over the Flatbush Avenue and the surrounding streets, all the businesses that surround them change as well. Even some of the small local businesses have been smart and upgraded their stores. I passed a Jamaican bakery that had been opened for years is completely renovated. It still looks the same outside but they have upgraded as the neighborhood has changed. On the five blocks to the pizzeria, I counted at the least ten businesses that have left and some have been replaced with new restaurants and shops.

I decided to look it up and the head of the Merchant’s Association said that there were 22 businesses that were closed now and they were not being filled so fast. The ones that are being filled are opening expensive restaurants with things like $12.00 hamburgers and $20.00 pizza when the restaurants in the are that are left are serving food that is just as good for half the price. This was the difference between Family Pizza, where I ate tonight and the fancy pizzeria that opened directly across the street with the same pizza for double the price. Pretty place in comparison but still at the end of the day it is pizza.

After my walk down Flatbush Avenue and dinner, I walked back up to the Gardens. The movie tonight was the ‘Fabulous Mr. Fox’, voiced by George Clooney and Merle Streep. It was not too fabulous. In fact, I found the movie boring and sending the wrong message to kids. That’s the reason why it was a big flop at the box office. With a former line up of the ‘Wizard of Oz’, ‘The Goonies’, ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and ‘E.T’., they could have picked another classic live-action film like ‘The Parent Trap’ or ‘Freaky Friday’. They even cut out the free popcorn that they have every year. I could tell someone new was running it.

Still the gardens were in bloom and it was a beautiful warm, non-muggy night (79 degrees) to sit on the lawn and enjoy the film. The place is testament to families as it is like a step back into the 70’s with kids running around in their bare feet, parents talking to their neighbors and people from the same buildings socializing with one another.

It was nice to walk around the Crawford Rose Garden and some of the roses were coming back in bloom and the Japanese Garden was in full form. I had not been there since the Cherry Blossom Festival in April. I had missed a few of the events because of work but still the Gardens are going through a renovation and the new Water Garden is being expanded. If you live anywhere in the surrounding area, this is one membership you want to have in your collection of museums and parks.

Brooklyn Botanical Garden Rose Night.jpg

Brooklyn Botanical Garden

It is one of those membership perks that I really enjoy and to come in all the way from New Jersey after work says something. Its a great neighborhood to explore that is now constantly changing. Its just nice to be outside under the stars watching a film on a warm summer night.

 

Places to Visit:

 

Brooklyn Botanical Garden

990 Washington Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11225

Open: Sunday & Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Friday 8:00am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d103900-Reviews-Brooklyn_Botanic_Garden-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2785

 

Brooklyn Museum

200 Eastern Parkway

Brooklyn, NY  11238

(718) 638-5000

Open: Sunday-Saturday 11:00am-6:00pm/Thursday 11:00-10:00pm

My Review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d110213-Reviews-Brooklyn_Museum-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Places to Eat:

 

Family Pizza

720 Flatbush Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11225

(718) 462-0639

Open: Sunday-Saturday 11:00am-11:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60827-d4966907-Reviews-Family_Pizza-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

Day Eighty-Two: Going from Q to Q. Taking the subway from the beginning of the Q on 96th Street to Stillwell Avenue Coney Island August 9, 2017.

I had finished the Manhattan Valley neighborhood earlier in the day when the Soup Kitchen was full and they did not need me. So I walked the lower part of the neighborhood to finish it off and then walked across Central Park to the beginning of the new subway stop for the Q subway train at 96th Street and Second Avenue. As I had written on Day Sixty-Six on my walk, this subway line is really nice and take time to look at the artwork at the stops at 96th, 72nd and 63rd Streets.

96th Street Stop in Coney Island

the 96th Street stop my starting point

If you are going to take the Q to Coney Island leave yourself plenty of time because it is over an hour to get from one end of the Q to the other. It was a beautiful warm clear sunny day around 84 degrees and a perfect day to go to the shore.

I love the Q train! I love the new section of the subway with its interesting art and the fact that it is so clean. That and the fact they the E subway has the newest cars to stretch out in. It makes it a pleasure for the long trips.

You get some of the best views of the city from the subway once you cross over into Brooklyn. You get a great views of lower Manhattan when exiting from underground plus you get to see the old parts of Brooklyn with views of the ‘Brownstone’ neighborhoods. There’s another area that keeps changing with gentrification.

The subway ends at the Stillwell subway stop. This rebuilt stop was the first part in the renovation of the island to make it a more 24 hour resort. Most of the other plans have been scrapped or were never enacted. To be honest with all of you, the amusement area of Coney Island is still dumpy and has not been much since the Luna Park fire of 1946 and the Dreamland fire of 1911. They keep trying though.

Even when I went to Coney Island as a kid in the 70’s, it was rundown then. Please don’t get me wrong, Coney Island can be a lot of fun and you can have a great day out here but don’t get too lofty of expectations of what it is like (See reviews on TripAdvisor). Don’t venture too far from Nathan’s after dark and follow the crowd back to the Stillwell subway station after dark if you stay for the films on the beach or the fireworks.

I have been down for the Mermaid Parade in the Spring several years ago and will be going to the Sandcastle Building contest next week. There is a lot going on during the summer and it is good to check out these activities. The Hot Dog Eating Contest at Nathan’s draws thousands to the island to watch their hero’s devour hot dogs at record speed.

Still the I love to explore the changes to the island and walked around Surf and Neptune Avenues after I got there. I wanted to see if Totonno’s Pizza was open that day so I walked for two blocks Neptune Avenue and I will tell you that though the area is changing it still is not a great neighborhood.

Totonno’s is in the middle of a commercial area with a series of garages and car repairs. The worst part was that it closed for the day. The restaurant is only opened from Wednesday to Sunday so its for another time. I did get to see the back part of the island and found where the original Coney Island Creek was located. This is where the original Sea Lion Park and Luna Park were located back in the early part of the century.

Totonna Pizza II.jpg

Totonno’s Pizza on Neptune Avenue

I changed my plans around and walked the length of Surf Avenue and started my walk around the amusement area which runs from the Aquarium at West 8th Street to about West 16th Street. Even with the rebuilding of Luna Park on the footprint of the old Astroland, Surf Avenue needs a major makeover. The chain restaurants have added a little life to it but still some of the blocks are a series of rundown buildings and old time amusements.

I stopped by the Coney Island Museum at 1208 Surf Avenue and the museum part was closed for the day but the side show part was open but I had missed the show. I walked around some of the open exhibitions on the outside and it is interesting to see some of the artifacts from the old amusement days.

Coney Island Museum

Coney Island Museum at 1208 Surf Avenue

My next stop was the famous Cyclone Roller Coaster on West 10th Street (see review on TripAdvisor). This is the most amazing and exciting ride on the island and one of the things you should see while you are in New York City. It is $10.00 to ride the coaster but it is well worth it! That first hill you go down is so mind-blowing. You feel as if the cars are going to fly into the sea. It rolls up and down those hills back and forth facing the buildings across the street and the sea. Of all the amusement parks I have been to there is nothing like the Cyclone.

Cyclone Rollercoaster.jpg

Cyclone Rollercoaster

I walked into the Luna Park area and saw the improvements that have been added to the park. The problem with Luna Park is that its mostly kiddie rides and not much for adults with the exception of the Log Flume Ride. Luna Park was rebuilt on the old Astroland which had closed by in 2008 and is trying to capture the old magic of the island with upgrades on rides and concessions. It even recreated the original entrance of Luna Park across the street from the old park. Still it will take a lot more work on the park and more added rides in the future. I give them so much credit for revitalizing the park with a new look.

Luna Park.jpg

The entrance to the new Luna Park in Coney Island

I walked after that to Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, 1025 Regielmann Boardwalk, which I had not been on for about seven years and the famous Spook-a-Rama, which I had not ridden since I was about eight. The Wonder Wheel was built back in the 20’s and with a height of 150 feet, has great views of the ocean and of the island. Both rides were $8.00 and were well worth it for the day.

When riding the Wonder Wheel, make sure to get one of the cars that slide. Not only do you get the view but you get the excitement of sliding around. When you reach the top of the Wonder Wheel, it has the most breathtaking view of the boardwalk area, the beach and ocean and a view of the whole island. The breeze is so refreshing up there and you feel like the world is your own. Talk about seeing the world go by.

Deno's Wonder Wheel

Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park at 1025 Regielmann Boardwalk

After the Wonder Wheel, I walked over to Spook-a-Rama, also $8.00, which I first rode when I was eight and it has not changed that much since then. It does have a few thrills that do pop out at you that will have you jumping. There have been a few updates on it with video displays but for the most part I remember it being much scarier as a kid. I will let you know though the first couple of things popping out at you will still have you jumping out of your seat but still its not the Haunted Mansion at Disney Parks.

I had enough time to go to the New York Aquarium located at West 8th Street, just past the Cyclone. During Hurricane Sandy in 2012, most of the Aquarium was seriously damaged and most of the park is still under construction. The Coral Exhibition is still interesting especially with the destruction of the wreaths around the world and the Sea Lion demonstration is a lot of fun. The Sea Lions are such hams and seem to love the crowds. What I thought was interesting is that both of them were born in New York City at the Bronx Zoo so they have only known humans. Still they look like they are having fun.  They seem to love waving to the audience and the crowds love them back.

New York Aquarium.jpg

New York Aquarium at West 8th Street

My last stop of the evening was dinner at Nathan’s at 1310 Surf Avenue. This hot dog chain was founded in 1916 and is still in their original location. They have the best hot dogs and their French fries are some of the best in the industry. When you go you have to have the original hot dog with mustard, the regular fries (which is a large order anywhere else) and their famous Orange-aid. It is the best meal.

Nathan's Coney Island

Nathan’s Coney Island at 1310 Surf Avenue

On a hot sunny day, it is nice to sit out on the tables right next to the restaurant. There is something about the sea breezes, the salt air and hot dogs and fries that make a phenomenal combination. It is a meal that is part of the beach experience and that was worth the trip alone.

Before it got too late, I was back on the Q Train back to Manhattan. I’m sorry but sensible people still get out of Coney Island before it gets dark. Even though the subway station on Stillwell and Surf Avenues is very safe and there is a police station there, its better to leave before dusk. I don’t care how many artists have moved into the area.

The subway ride took just over an hour to get back to Manhattan but it was still light out when I left the shore area and got my last glimpse of the ocean pass by. There is nothing  like watching the sun reflect on the beach. The best was that we passed lower Manhattan before we went under the tunnel and watched the skyline brightened by the lights in the office towers. If you want to see an amazing site, it is when the city lights come on and the skyline is ablaze. It is like a picture postcard and impressive. When people think of New York City, this is what they imagine.

Coney Island Beach.jpg

Coney Island Beach

When I finally got back to 96th Street, I had some time to look at the artwork again and stretch around the station. I still love to see museum quality art in a subway. Then it was off back on the Q back to midtown.

For the price of a round-trip ticket on the subway, it is fantastic voyage around the city on the new Q. Artwork, amusements, skyline views and the beach. What more could you want?

From Q to Q Beginning to End from 96th Street to Stillwell Avenue

 

Places to Visit:

 

Coney Island Museum

3050 Stillwell Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11224

(718) 372-5159

https://www.coneyisland.com/programs/coney-island-museum

Open: Sunday-Saturday 12:00pm-8:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d555621-Reviews-The_Coney_Island_Museum-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1978

 

Luna Park Coney Island/Cyclone Rollercoaster

1000 Surf Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11224

(718) 373-5862

https://lunaparknyc.com/

Open: Monday-Thursday 11:00am-10:00pm/Friday-Sunday 11:00am-12:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d1796964-Reviews-Luna_Park_at_Coney_Island-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Deno’s Wonderwheel Park

1023 Riegelmann Boardwalk

Brooklyn, NY  11224

(718) 372-2592

https://www.denoswonderwheel.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d565041-Reviews-Deno_s_Wonder_Wheel_Park-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

 

The New York Aquarium

602 Surf Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11224

(718) 265-3474

https://nyaquarium.com/

Open: Sunday 10:00am-6:00pm/Monday-Thursday 10:00am-5:00pm/Friday & Saturday 10:00am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d107414-Reviews-New_York_Aquarium-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3619

 

Places to Eat:

 

Nathan’s Famous

1310 Surf Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11224

(718) 333-2202

https://nathansfamous.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60827-d458011-Reviews-Nathan_s_Famous-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

Day Fifty: Walking Tour of Greenpoint, Brooklyn with Trina Morris and F.I.T. July 23rd, 2016

*Blogger wants to note that the blog was updated in 2020. Many stores and restaurant have either closed or changed hands since this tour.

My second “Talk & Tour” class with the Fashion Institute of Technology took me on a full day tour of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Many of my classmates had been on the Bushwick tour with me two weeks earlier plus a group of out-of-towners. How people down South find these obscure walking tours in New York City is beyond me. Even I had to get the FIT catalog from school. What made this tour interesting was that my family lived here when they first came to this country at the turn of the last century and both my Grandmother and Grandfather on my father’s side lived here until the 1960’s.

Our Instructor for the day was Trina Morris, whom I have taken many walking tours with which covered DUMBO, Carroll Gardens, the Lower East Side, Williamsburg, and finally Boerum Hill at a time when I was writing my first book, “Firehouse 101” (See IUniverse.com for details on the book), which was set primarily in Boerum Hill and the surrounding neighborhoods.

I had used the walking tour to get a better feel for the neighborhood and after the tour was over that weekend back in 2002 came back to the neighborhood about 18 times over the course of writing the book to see the changes. Since writing my first novel, all of these areas have changed tremendously with gentrification  All of Brooklyn just keeps changing. Trina seemed thrilled that I had an autographed copy of the book ready for her on the subway ride over.

Getting to Greenpoint is not the easiest trip. We had to take the C Train from school and then transfer to the L Train (recent college train) to the G Train to get to the heart of Greenpoint. Unlike Debbie’s tour a few weeks earlier, Trina’s tour deals with going to all the best stores and restaurants whereas Debbie’s tour concentrated more on art work and talking with owners opening new businesses. Both tours showcased the neighborhoods beautifully but there were times I felt like quite the tourist. Especially when the locals looked at us like we were from Mars. I felt that way when we were in Bushwick as well as the local residents looked perplexed on why we would walk around their neighborhood.

Greenpoint Brooklyn II

Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Our tour started at the G stop on Manhattan Avenue and Greenpoint Avenue, the furthest point you can get into Greenpoint from Manhattan. From there we walked down Greenpoint Avenue and turned right two blocks away to Franklin Avenue. Franklin Avenue has been one of the shopping areas of Greenpoint for years but now newer residents are putting an upscale swing to it with boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants and clothing stores giving the street a nice mix of old and new merchants.

When I did a tour of the neighborhood, I stopped at Old Polish Bakery at 926 Manhattan Avenue for a doughnut. The selection of baked products look really good but word of advice. They must do their baking early in the morning because the doughnut was dried out (see TripAdvisor review).

Old Polish Bakery

Old Polish Bakery at 926 Manhattan Avenue

Our first stop on the tour was Zoe’s Beauty Products Salon & Spa at 119 Greenpoint Avenue. This beauty spa has a full line of men’s and woman’s products as well as get a full day pampering. Take time to look at all their products as they have a full line of merchandise for every need. A very nice shop with friendly service and a good selection.

Zoe's Beauty Products

Zoe’s Beauty Products and Salon at 119 Greenpoint Avenue

Our second stop on the tour was at Budin Coffee Shop at 114 Greenpoint Avenue, a beautifully designed store with wooden shelves and an open bar. Budin is what TV would call a ‘hipster’ shop but the service was friendly and they did make a mean iced tea. They have a nice selection of drinks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

Budin Coffee Shop

Budin Coffee Shop at 114 Greenpoint Avenue (now closed)

Check out their gift area as well. There is some unusual items. What was nice too was they let us use the bathroom and for that I give them a big thumbs up (see TripAdvisor Review).

Budin Coffee Shop II

Budin Coffee Shop is very trendy inside (now closed)

Our next stop on the tour was a small clothing store named ‘In God We Trust’ at 129 Bedford Avenue, which has a respectable line of casual wear. This biggest observation that I have found in clothing stores in these so called ‘hipster’ neighborhoods is that you can not find a size over 30 inches and a large for men.

In God We Trust

In God We Trust at 129 Bedford Avenue (Now Closed)

It’s like shopping at Bloomingdale’s today. They don’t want to sell to anyone who is not 5:5 and a waist of 30 inches.  Even though the selection was interesting I’m not sure who they were buying for in the neighborhood.

In God We Trust II

Inside “In God We Trust” (now closed)

A fun shop that we quickly went though was the East River Skate Shop at 86 Greenpoint Avenue. They had an interesting line of tee-shirts with unique prints and even though I am not into skateboarding, their line of skateboards would attract any adult interesting in trying the sport.

East River Skate Shop

East River Skate Shop at 86 Greenpoint Avenue (Now Closed)

Walking to the end of Greenpoint Avenue facing the East River is the most beautiful view of Manhattan that had been hidden all these years behind factories. These factories today are becoming lofts, studios and restaurants with a bar called ‘Barge’ that was very active that afternoon. I was amazed on how busy the place was considering it was the middle of the afternoon. On the sunny clear day that is was it had the most spectacular views of Manhattan and a nice soundtrack going.

Also, at the end of Greenpoint Avenue is WNYC Transmitter Park along Greenpoint Avenue, which shares the same views as ‘Barge’ and they show films there on Friday nights. They were setting up for the new ‘Star Wars’ film the night I was there and expecting a pretty big crowd. The park has beautiful views of Midtown around 34th Street. It has a nice smell of salt air as well. Frankly it could use a good weeding.

WNYC Transmitter Park

WNYC Transmitter Park

We turned the corner onto Franklin Avenue,  which is where most of the gentrification is taking place. I was able to tour the neighborhood about a week later to get a better feel for it and Greenpoint is still a neighborhood, not unlike Bushwick, that is still in transition. Many of the old residents still make their home here and you still see it on the upper reaches of Manhattan Avenue, where a sizable Hispanic population still lives for now and on the lower parts of street where a sizable Polish population still lives.

Franklin Avenue is where everyone is moving in. The block faces, along with West Street, the East River where the views of Manhattan are priceless. West Street is where all the former factories and warehouses are located which is quickly being replaced by studios, stores and small factories where the new residents live and work.

When visiting the American Playground between Nobile and Milton Streets, you can see the rapid change in the population with men in their 20’s playing basketball and young mothers with their small children having playdates. It was a mostly white crowd that differed from other parks that I visited in the neighborhood.

American Playground

American Playground on Franklin Street

On the way up to lunch, we stopped at Word Bookstore at 126 Franklin Avenue that has a great selection of independent and commercial authors and they had several local book signings set up. Its a small store with a depth to their selection and the staff is very friendly.

Word Bookstore

Word Book  Store at 126 Franklin Avenue

We then toured You & Yours Vintage Shop at 77 Franklin Street (Now Closed) and People of Tomorrow Consignment Shop at 66 Franklin Street (Now Closed) both offering a nice selection of clothing and accessories for the person and the home. You really have to know what you are looking for when visiting these shops because the merchandise is rather unique. What’s nice is that I found the service both here and at other stores on Franklin to be very personal and welcoming.

Lunch that afternoon took us to Brooklyn Label at 180 Franklin Street (changed hands since my visit there). As the kids say, OMG, this restaurant was incredible. The food was French Bistro and the brunch menu had a good selection of both breakfast and lunch items at very reasonable prices and the portion sizes were huge.

Brooklyn Label

Brooklyn Label at 180 Franklin Street

I had a Croque Monsieur ($12.00) that was out of this world. The sandwich was huge and the Gruyere cheese had a sharpness and twang to it. It was served with a kale salad that had a delicious dressing and the French Fries were cooked perfectly. The sandwich was filled with so much ham and cheese that I could barely finish it. The meal was so big I had no room for some of their delicious sounding desserts. The service was friendly and flawless. This is a definite on anyone’s list when dining in Greenpoint (see review on TripAdvisor. I gave them an Excellent).

Brooklyn Label II

The inside of Brooklyn Label

The food and the company made the meal perfect. It was nice getting to know the people I toured with that afternoon. Some of them had such interesting backgrounds and personal stories from bankers to lawyers to nannies, all of them had a story to tell.

Porter James

Porter James Vintage Furniture at 116 Franklin Avenue

After lunch our shopping trip had us zig-zagging along Franklin Street. We stopped at Pas Mal and Pip Squeak Chapeau at 99 Franklin Street to look at their clothing lines, Porter James, a home furnishing store at 116 Franklin Street. It carries a lot of 1960’s furniture. We also visited Adaption at 109 Franklin Street to look at more vintage furniture.

Pip Squeak Chateau

Pip Squeak Chapeau/Pas Mal at 99 Franklin Street

Adapations

Adaptions Vintage Furniture at 109 Franklin Street

We stopped at the seafood store Little Neck Outpost at 128 Franklin Street, which had food for sale and lots of gifts and snacks as well. They had also have a selection of hot foods to take home.

Little Neck Outpost

Little Neck Outpost at 128 Franklin Street

On my own part of the tour, I went further up on Franklin Street to Commercial Street where the warehouses are giving way to condos and views of Manhattan and Long Island City, which was once thought to be the next SoHo.

Greenpoint Playground at 243 Franklin Street attracted the most diverse amount of children and had beautiful views of the skyline. In a few years, I predict this will be the ultimate Yuppie park as condos and renovations are taking place in the buildings surrounding the park.

Greenpoint Playground

Greenpoint Playground at 243 Franklin Avenue

Manhattan Avery Park (Newton Barge Park) at 37 Commercial Street has some of the best views of Newton Creek’s boating and sailing docks and some unique art work along the fences. Newton Creek is currently being cleaned up so much more activity is going on this side of the neighborhood as well as new condos, restaurants and an ice cream shop have opened here.

Newton Barge playground

Newton Barge Park & Playground at 37 Commercial Street

This is the tip of the neighborhood and there is a lot of renovations going on in the old factories and warehouses. Give it less than three years and this whole area will be luxury lofts. With the views of the city and access to many small pocket parks, this will become a very desirable area to move to in the future. I walked across Commercial Street back down Manhattan Avenue on the upper part of the neighborhood and you are starting to see the transformation of the neighborhood from Hispanic to a younger white crowd with more restaurant and bars opening up on this part of the neighborhood. There are still many reasonable Spanish restaurants to give a try that look quite good.

I took a detour for a snack at Franklin Pizza at 109 Franklin Street (see review on TripAdvisor) on the way back down. This slices here are nice sized and at $2.50 are a little pricey in current New York terms but the pizza is full of flavor and their sauce is delicious. It is the perfect blend of old and new neighborhood as everyone eats here and it is a good gathering place for neighborhood gossip as I found out.

Franklin Pizza

Franklin Pizza at 109 Franklin Street

Our last store in this part of the neighborhood was Flying Squirrel at 87 Oak Street, a  great little consignment store of clothes, toys and furniture for young children. The place was alive with activity as the kids seem to dominate in this store.  The owner, Kate Schmitz, was really nice and explained her concept of the store to me, mixing brand new and consignment goods to attract the young families moving into the neighborhood. She also has a nice line of books as well. It is a great rainy day store for families.

Flying Squirrel

Flying Squirrel at 87 Oak Street

We then took a turn in the block and walked down Oak Street to Guernsey Street to Meserole Street to the main shopping area of the Polish side of the neighborhood on lower Manhattan Avenue. Here we got to try two of the most well-known businesses in the Polish neighborhood, Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop at 727 Manhattan Avenue and Polka Dot Café at 726 Manhattan Avenue (See reviews on TripAdvisor).

Peter Pan Donut Shoppe

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop at 727 Manhattan Avenue

Peter Pan’s doughnuts are some of the best I have ever had. Who could make a choice? I ended up eating three doughnuts because they looked so good. I had their apple filled doughnut with a white icing, a crème filled doughnut and a glazed doughnut. It put a damper on my dinner plans but like the kids say OMG they were so good. This is one store you can not miss when visiting Greenpoint. I had heard about them for years but never realized how good the doughnuts were for munching.

Peter Pan Donut Shop

The Donuts at Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop are the Best!!

The other store we visited was Polka Dot Café,  Polish gourmet shop, that has now reinvented itself into both a gourmet shop for Polish food and a small café where you can order food. Trina had arranged for us to try some blueberry dumplings that were cooked perfectly and were delicious. I was able to down a few of them on top of the doughnuts.

Polka Dot Cafe

Polka Dot Cafe at 726 Manhattan Avenue

I was so impressed by the food that I doubled back after the tour was over and on top of everything else I ate I had chicken meatballs and a type of pancake that was filled with meat with a flavored ice tea. That chicken meatball made me proud to be part Polish and the food and the service was just excellent. I think the ladies got a kick that I was so happy with the food.

Polka Dot Cafe II

The Polish gourmet treats at Polka Dot Cafe

We all said our goodbyes by the subway as most of the people in my tour went back to Manhattan via the subway at Nassau Street. It was nice meeting everyone and Trina is a good tour guide. I am hoping that she arranges a tour of Bed-Sty next.

My last stop of the day was Saint Stanislaus Kostka Parish at 607 Humboldt Street, a Polish Catholic Church that my Great-Grandmother Rock had raised money to help build at the turn of the last century. What a beautifully detailed church that my Aunt Dee later said she had been baptized in along with several great aunts and uncles had been married there. This had been our family church when my family lived in the neighborhood.

St. Saintislaus Church II

The inside of Saint Stanislaus Kostka Parish

I stayed for the 5:30pm mass and almost cried through the service knowing how important this church was to our family and what a big part it played in our lives. It was a nice service and the priest did a nice job with the mass but it really chocked me up to know that this was part of my past. I felt like my dad was there with me. In a way, I felt like I was home.

St. Saintislaus Church

St. Stanislaus Kostka Church  at 607 Humboldt Street, my family church

As for me, I was so stuffed with food from all over and it was such a nice night to walk, I walked back to Manhattan. I made the turn down Bedford Street and walked through Williamsburg through the ultimate part of the ‘hipster’ neighborhood. It was like walking through a college campus. God, did these kids make me feel old. It was funny how I never felt this way when I used to do the same thing on Rush Street in Chicago. I guess every generation goes through it.

I walked through Williamsburg and then over the Williamsburg Bridge into the Lower East Side and walked across lower Manhattan to Houston Street to see if there were any interesting movies at the Angelica. With nothing I wanted to see, I took the subway back to Port Authority Bus Terminal to go home. I felt so much better after that walk and worked off almost everything. The trip to Greenpoint was really interesting and who knew that my Great-Grandmother was so ‘hip’.

Even if you are not an FIT Alumnus, check out the walking tours that the campus offers. They are reasonable, engaging and you will have a great time.

 

Places to Visit:

In God We Trust (This branch now closed)

129 Bedford Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11211

(718) 384-0700

https://ingodwetrustnyc.com/

 

East River Skate Shop (Now Closed)

86 Greenpoint Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11211

https://www.eastriverskateshop.com/

 

Word Bookstore

126 Franklin Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11222

(718) 383-0096

https://www.wordbookstores.com/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-9:00pm

 

Pas Mal/Pip Squeak Chateau

99 Franklin Street

Brooklyn, NY  11222

(917) 909-1514

https://www.pasmalnyc.com/

Open: Monday-Friday 12:00pm-8:00pm/Saturday & Sunday 11:00am-8:00pm

 

Porter James Vintage Furniture

116 Franklin Street

Brooklyn, NY  11222

(929) 337-9387

https://porterjamesofny.com/

Open: Sunday & Saturday 12:00pm-7:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Friday 12:00pm-7:00pm

 

Adaptions

109 Franklin Street

Brooklyn, NY  11222

(347) 529-5889

https://adaptationsny.com/

Open: Sunday & Saturday 12:00pm-7:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Friday 12:00pm-7:00pm

 

Little Neck Outpost

128 Franklin Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11222

(718) 383-3080

http://www.littleneckop.com/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 8:00am-7:00pm

 

Flying Squirrel

87 Oak Street

Brooklyn, NY  11222

(718) 218-7775

http://flyingsquirrelbaby.com/

Open: Sunday 11:00am-6:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm

 

WNYC Transmitter Park

Greenpoint Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11211

(212) 639-9675

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/transmitter-park

 

American Playground

Milton & Franklin Streets

Brooklyn, NY  11211

(212) 639-9675

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/american-playground

 

Greenpoint Playground

243 Franklin Street

Brooklyn, NY  11222

(212) 639-9675

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/greenpoint-playground

 

Manhattan Avery Park

3 Commercial Street

Brooklyn, NY 11222

(212) 639-9675

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/newtown-barge-playground

 

Saint Stanislaus Kosta Church

607 Humboldt Street

Brooklyn, NY 11222

(718) 338-0170

https://ststanskostka.org/

 

Places to Eat:

 

Old Polish Bakery

926 Manhattan Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11222

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Old-Poland-Bakery/288782161332865

(718) 349-7900

Open: please check their website or call them

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60827-d5540706-Reviews-Old_Poland_Bakery-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Budin Coffee Shop (Currently Closed)

114 Greenpoint Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11222

(347) 884-9639

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60827-d7284898-Reviews-Budin-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Brooklyn Label

180 Franklin Street

Brooklyn, NY   11222

(347) 689-4072

https://www.brooklynlabel180.com/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 8:00am-12:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60827-d890612-Reviews-The_Brooklyn_Label-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Franklin Pizza

109 Franklin Street

Brooklyn, NY  11222

(718) 349-2472

Open: Sunday 12:00pm-9:30pm/Monday-Thursday 12:00pm-9:30pm/Saturday 12:00pm-10:30pm

https://www.franklinpizzamenu.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60827-d4457313-Reviews-Franklins_Pizza-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Polka Dot Cafe

726 Manhattan Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11222

(718) 349-2884

http://polkadotgreenpoint.com/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 9:00am-8:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60827-d10636693-Reviews-Polka_Dot_Cafe-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop

727 Manhattan Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11222

(718) 339-3676

https://peterpandonuts.com/

Open: Sunday 5:30am-7:00pm/Monday-Friday 4:30am-8:00pm/Saturday 5:00am-8:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60827-d1458238-Reviews-Peter_Pan_Bakery-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905