Saturday, August 7, 2010

Summer Streets - First Saturday

I hope you New Yorkers are aware that, for the third year in a row, three Saturday mornings in August shall known as Summer Streets, and be free of automobiles etc. on Park Avenue, Fourth Avenue (and how many of you know the history - or the length - of 4th Avenue!?), Lafayette Street, and Center Street all the way to City Hall from 7:00am to 1:00pm on August 7, 14, and 21. Yes, indeed! Only walkers, runners, skaters and bikers can navigate those streets on those mornings - and can cruise all the way across the Brooklyn Bridge to the fourth largest city in the United States, Brooklyn!

The Brooklyn Bridge, from the Brooklyn Bridge Park in D.U.M.B.O.

Well, of course, it's not really a city - but the third largest city is Chicago, with 2,851,268 and then the "fourth," Houston, has only 2,257,926 so it's reasonable that Brooklyn with 2,465,326 in the 2000 census (and 2,567,098 was the 2009 estimate) can be considered the fourth.

And while we're on the subject, all five boroughs of New York include 8,008,278 in the 2000 census (and 8,391,881 in the 2009 estimate). Los Angeles, by the way, with 3,831,868 is the second largest city (although I think it holds a unique position as the largest incorporated suburb!).

So, how is Brooklyn today? Wonderful! And with matchless views of Manhattan - and this year, from the Brooklyn Bridge Park, I enjoyed a lovely restful view of my home borough:

Manhattan as seen from D.U.M.B.O. under the Manhattan Bridge

I have run over another bridge recently, however, and not on a car free day either.

Last week, in my adventures to extend my running and touring range, I ran all the way down along the East River as far as I could - which was only E. 63rd Street (because of some construction on the ramp at 60th Street) - and down 1st Avenue, then through Tompkins Square Park to Avenue B. Then across Houston to Clinton Street - and past the Clinton Street Baking Company & Restaurant (but I didn't stop!) to Delancy Street and the Williamsburg Bridge.

The entrance for bicycles and pedestrians on the Williamsburg Bridge

What you can't tell yet, as you start over the bridge, is that very soon the bicycles and pedestrians split from each other completely! The pedestrians will have the south or downriver lanes all to themselves while the bicycles will have the north or upriver sides to themselves.

(The M Subway train goes over this bridge. In fact, the M has in these down economic times gone through a morphing when the V train was eliminated in June. We Manhattan riders had to learn the V recently - but to no purpose because the V is dead and the M has taken over some of its route. Check out an interesting blog, Queens Crap, for the, ah, down and dirty! Oh, and when - not if - the 2nd Avenue Subway finishes its first stage - from 125th Street to 59th Street - the Q will assume that new extension. That is, until the - are you ready? -
T train takes over the line all the way to ... hmm ... ah, yes: Hanover Square!)

Well, once over the bridge - saying hello to everyone I passed on the way, and getting nice smiles from everyone except a tall bearded man in long black coat and wide-rimmed black hat who walked past me staring straight ahead ... hmm ... I was in Williamsburg!

I ran up Bedford Street to N. 7th Street - and look at this:

Yes, indeed! Brooklynites, at least those in Williamsburg, ride their bikes to work. Here I suspect they're locked up so that their riders can take the L train to work. You'd think there'd be something just a little more official?

But I wanted to run to the shore line, so I ran up to N. 8th Street, turned left and ran 3 blocks to the East River State Park on Kent Avenue. Wow! What they're doing with the place!

Yes, that's Manhattan in the distance! And no sound of trains from any bridge - you're in Williamsburg!

The East River State Park in Williamsburg is only 7 acres, recovered from a former railroad yard and shipping station; there are a few areas still in concrete, but they're used as platforms for the "pool parties" that used to be held in McCarren Park - until their pool came back into action as a pool.

Yes, that means that on Sundays during the summer, and various other times no doubt, there are bands playing for free - Free Williamsburg! (I dare you to hum along! And notice the fans: in my day, said the old codger, the long hairs weren't only the ones on stage! I swear all the fans work on Wall Street .... Ah, where are the hippies of yesteryear ...!)

But, just look down toward the southern end of the Park and you'll see -

- yes, these are new condominiums built within the last three years. They're not all occupied, yet, but, well, Brooklyn is beginning to look an awful lot like ..... (to be continued.)