The Fascinating History of NYC’s Bridges

The Fascinating History of NYC’s Bridges

There are roughly 2,027 bridges in all of New York City — far too many to list in a single blog post. Of these, ten are considered historic landmarks: The Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, Queensboro, Washington, University Heights, Carroll Street, Macombs Dam, George Washington Bridge, Highbridge, and Hell Gate Bridge. Each possess unique histories that make the Big Apple’s infrastructure exceptional.

NYC’s first bridges

King’s Bridge, later called Kingsbridge, was built first in 1693. It earned its name by charging everyone that crossed money, save for King’s soldiers. The wooden bridge was rebuilt in 1713 and allegedly demolished in 1917, though some maintain that it remains buried in the landfill between the Southern Bronx and Manhattan where Spuyten Duyvil Creek once was.

New York City’s oldest still-standing bridge, on the other hand, is the High Bridge, also between the Bronx and Manhattan. It was was built in 140 feet over the Harlem River in 1843 to carry water as part of the Croton aqueduct. Use of the bridge for water supply ceased in 1949, and it remained out of use for decades. In 2015, the High Bridge was renovated and reopened for pedestrian usage.

The oldest vehicular bridge in New York City is the Brooklyn Bridge, built in 1883. At the time (and even still today) the Brooklyn Bridge was considered an architectural wonder — it was the largest extension bridge in the world at a stunning 1595.5 feet long. When the Williamsburg Bridge was built in 1903, it overtook the superlative for length at 1600 feet.

The Brooklyn Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge are two of the four major bridges built along the East River between 1870 and 1910. Both the Queensboro Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge were completed in 1909.

Bridges today

Further into the 20th century, the George Washington and Verrazano-Narrows Bridges were completed, the former in 1931 and the latter in 1963. Both overtook the title of longest suspension bridge at the time of their opening — the Verrazano, at 6,690 feet, remains today the longest in America and the 11th longest in the world.

The George Washington Bridge is the most heavily trafficked bridge not only in the city, but the world. In a single year, the bridge accommodates over 51 million cars, trucks, and other vehicles, or 280,714 a day as of 2010.

Today, 21 major bridges connect to the island of Manhattan, with thousands more within and connecting the five boroughs. Though many claim Pittsburgh has the most bridges (as it may, per capita), New York City is otherwise only beat by Hamburg, which has as many as 2500 bridges, in total number.

Though over a century has passed, New York City’s bridges — especially the historic and record-breaking ones — remain beautiful, iconic and integral to the city. For hundreds of thousands that cross daily, treated to a spectacular view of the skyline and Lady Liberty, it’s the saving grace of their commute.

Featured image: Thomas Hawk via Flickr

Springtime Festivals and Events in Brooklyn Neighborhoods

Springtime Festivals and Events in Brooklyn Neighborhoods

Though both meteorologists and the groundhog agreed spring would come early this year, after a brief warm spell New York City is experiencing an unseasonably chilly early April. Still the flowers are blooming and the sun is out — the temperature, surely, is not far behind. And even a brisk 50-something degrees is fine enough for New Yorkers to get out of the house and start enjoying longer days, brighter skies and fresh-aired adventures.

For Brooklynites, there are an abundance of events right in the borough that either celebrate the season or compliment it.  Here’s a sample of some of the most notable events taking place in various Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

The brilliant pink and white trees known as cherry blossoms bloom in New York in April every year. There is perhaps no better place to view this spectacle than the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, its 52 acres located just east of Prospect Park touching Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Crown Heights and Prospect Heights in length.

2016 marks the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens’ 35th anniversary of the festival, called Sakura Matsuri for its celebration of traditional and contemporary Japanese culture. The festival takes place on Saturday April 30 and Sunday May 1, offering 60 events and performances. Tickets cost $25 for adults and are free for children under 12.

Cherry blossom trees change at different rates by the day, so you can check them out at BBG and elsewhere during surrounding dates. To track bloom process, simply check out the website here.

Hot Sauce Festival at the Brooklyn Expo Center

The weather might not be hot just yet, but that doesn’t mean you mouth can’t be. Hot sauce enthusiasts flock from near and far for the Hot Sauce Festival, held at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint, Brooklyn on April 24th and 25th.

Dozens of local vendors participate in numerous categories, including Louisiana style, chipotle, fruit-based, jalapeno, habanero, all-natural, chicken wings, spicy salsa, and even best label art. Attendants can sample a wide variety if their taste buds can handle it. General admission is $10, while $55 can get you five beers and a lunch platter and $100 can get you an all-access pass.

If lovers of spice miss this one and are willing to wait out the summer, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s annual Chili Pepper Festival is right around the corner on October 1.

Pop Music Festival

If you’re not into BBQ or cherry blossoms, music is a near-universal attraction. There are, of course, hundreds of music events during any given season in the city that never sleeps — one needs only throw a stone at the nearest bar. For those specifically interested in indie pop, the Pop Music Festival may be the springtime event for you.

Also hosted at several Manhattan venues, Brooklyn locations include Baby’s All Right, the Knitting Factory and Littlefield, where a stellar lineup of up-and-coming bands will rock out from the afternoon to the evening, followed by after parties into the wee hours of the morning.

Who knows? Your next favorite band may be there, prepping your next warm weather jam.

The Brooklyn Flea

There’s nothing quite like an open-air flea market. After months of stuffy indoor fleas, the Brooklyn Flea gets some fresh oxygen: starting in early April, the popular flea market celebrates its ninth outdoor season.

You can find the Brooklyn Flea in various neighborhoods across the Brooklyn borough. The Fort Green Flea is open every Saturday, and the DUMBO Flea every Sunday. An offshoot of the Brooklyn Flea called Smorgasburg occurs every Saturday in Williamsburg and Sunday in Prospect Park, featuring culinary vendors of all flavors.

Mermaid Parade

This Brooklyn event may require a long subway ride south, but it makes up for distance in nautical nonsense. Coney Island’s annual Mermaid Parade takes place on June 18th, at the tail end of the season (the summer solstice is June 20).

Began in 1983, the Mermaid Parade honors the early 20th century Coney Island parades: like Mardi Gras, but with flippers. Floats, groups, and individuals are showcased in the parade, and even onlookers get in on the action by dressing as close to marine life as their closets and budgets will allow.

Even better, admission is free! Just be prepared to swim through some fishy crowds, and possibly get a little wet and glittery in the process.

Featured image: Katie Killary via Flickr

 

The History of Brooklyn’s Residential Development

The History of Brooklyn’s Residential Development

Brooklyn in the early 20th century was home to a quickly growing population and developing community.

There was noticeable growth in city transportation. Funded through New York City tax dollars, there were grave advances made. Developers used tax dollars to construct new bridges, trolley lines, underground subway lines, and elevated railroads. These advances extended transportation into the outskirts of surrounding boroughs creating much easier access into Manhattan.

BCB Brookyln

Brooklyn started to develop into a city where Trolleys occupied the streets. Soon after, the Williamsburg Bridge was finished in 1903 followed by the first subway line to tunnel under the East River in 1908. With the increase in transportation from Brooklyn to Manhattan, residential development on began to skyrocket in this borough. As tenants rushed in, Brooklyn’s character started to develop as well.

The Brooklyn population saw another spike in diversity during the 1930s due to two reasons: The Great Migration and the extension of the A train from Harlem to Brooklyn. With such a heavy manufacturing industry in Brooklyn during the time, there was great opportunity for jobs. This New York City borough eventually became the supply for industrial resources needed around the country.

As years went on, Brooklyn began to phase out of the manufacturing industry. The environment wasn’t built to sustain this line of work. Additionally, then the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and this beloved city quickly lost their beloved anchor.

Dodgers games were once a community activity for locals and became the culture of the heart of Brooklyn. With the team’s absence, it wasn’t until Brooklyn adopted an artistic community that they started to regain a distinct culture

With the rising rents in Manhattan, the vibrant new communities right over the water in Brooklyn went from undiscovered neighborhoods to very desirable places for all ages and walks of life. Communities like DUMBO, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint not only attracted immigrants but also locals looking to pay less than Manhattan prices.

Brooklyn now supports a population of over 2.5 million people with 170 NYC Subway stations available throughout the borough. The residential development has seen waves of new audiences but present day Brooklyn has a complete list of both vibrant and historic communities.

How Brooklyn Celebrates Thanksgiving

Celebrating Thanksgiving in New York City is not only a local favorite, but a yearly trip for travelers too. Events are happening all over the Greater New York City area, throughout every borough. Other traditional events like the Thanksgiving Macy’s Day Parade attract large crowds but boroughs like Brooklyn have their own lineup of events that offer a different experience for this November holiday.

BCB Turkey Trot

Prospect Park Track Club Turkey Trot

Burn a few calories before the holiday feast and join Prospect Park in their Track Club Turkey Trot. The trot runs participants through Prospect Park to give you a little fresh air on this Thanksgiving day while supporting a community initiative.

If you finish in the top of the pack you can win a pie and add it to the dinner table. The Track Club Turkey Trot is a 5k, welcoming all interested residents in the New York City region.

 

Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar

Thanksgiving usually marks the kickoff to holiday season so the Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar opens right on time.  Located at 501 Union St., the Holiday Bazaar invites Brooklyn residents to enjoy their gift market powered by Brooklyn Makers. Music plays via a DJ as locals venture through the Brooklyn market showcasing beautiful art prints, jewelry, and other gifts that are perfect for not just Thanksgiving but Christmas as well.

The Shining All Day Marathon

This Thanksgiving event actually gives you an alternative to black friday, unless you don’t like scary movies of course. The Shining will play all day on November 27th at the Videology office space in the Williamsburg area. Watch this film classic and relax after a day of heavy eating!

Videology is an independent micro-cinema who offer a wide range of film programming and events on a consistent basis. Their intimate Brooklyn theater offers 50 seats so if you’d like to catch The Shining during their marathon then you should consider showing up early.

Brooklyn’s culture revolves around its residents and that’s even more true during the holiday season. Try to attend a Brooklyn event for Thanksgiving — you’re sure to have an enjoyable experience.

Williamsburg at a Glance

Williamsburg has undoubtedly been considered the pioneer community for emerging Brooklyn neighborhoods during the 1830s. Williamsburg was known as a fashionable resort as artists made this Brooklyn town their vacation home. The town has continued to be just that as Williamsburg has grown into the epicenter of Brooklyn with its vibrant culture and variety of attractions.

A little over 2 square miles, Williamsburg packages a mix of both fanciful streets and up-beat venues to a town of active families and working individuals.

 

Main attractions

Brooklyn Flea

Williamsburg is filled with a number of different incentives for New York City residents to both come and stay in this city on the rise.

Brooklyn Flea is not only an attraction to Brooklyn residents alone, but New York City as a whole. These busy grounds have 100 Flea vendors and over 30 Food Vendors operating every weekend of the year. The New York Times called the Flea “One of the great urban experiences in New York”. From April through November, the markets will be outdoors.

On Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg also offers the prominent Smorgasburg along the North 7th Street waterfront. Smorgasburg debuted in May of 2011 as a spin-off from the Brooklyn Flea. Now the weekend food incubator showcases 100+ local and regional food vendors and a crowd of 10,000 visitors.

 

Travel the Williamsburg Bridge

The distinction between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Williamsburg Bridge is an important one for cross-borough travelers; many are well aware of the much more popular Brooklyn Bridge but the Williamsburg route has a plethora of sights to offer as well.

There’s both bike and pedestrian lanes that run alongside the J & M train and grant a stunning view of Manhattan’s Lower East Side and Financial District waterfront.

 

Parks

Despite the instrumental evolution of the Williamsburg neighborhoods, the city has left more than enough room for green spaces.

McCarren Park is the largest park in Williamsburg and it comes with all the amenities you could ask for. McCarren hosts a 8-lane track, multiple baseball and softball fields, scattered fields for your leisure, two dog parks and an enormous outdoor pool.

East River State Park is another open space that brings in a faithful crowd of daily visitors. The seven-acre waterfront park looks out on to the East River from the Williamsburg shores. This park is the site of a 19th century shipping dock so it isn’t uncommon if park visitors stumble across a unique historical remnant hidden within the new landscape.

East River State Park actually provides historic interpretive signs as well. The park has done a great job protecting the historical resources that once existed.

The Early History of Park Slope

via Wikipedia

Old Stone House via Wikipedia

In comparison to some of its fellow neighborhoods, Park Slope had a relatively quiet start to its modern story. Like much of New York City, the land that would eventually become Park Slope originally served as home to the Lenape tribe. In the 1600s, Dutch settlers began to move into the region where they would farm for 200 years.

While the early story of Park Slope is certainly par for the course for New York City’s development, it does hold one early distinction the neighborhood remains proud to display.

On 3rd Street lies a recreation of the historic Old Stone House of the Revolutionary War. The Dutch farmhouse served as the backdrop to a deadly, yet heroic battle for the George Washington-led Continental Army. Serving as the setting for the first battle after the Americans declared its independence from the British, the British army had outwitted the Americans with a massive gathering of troops. Washington, thinking the British would target Manhattan, arrived in Brooklyn as the Continental Army lines began to break.

The British overpowered the Americans–creating a need for escape. While numerous died that day, a brave stance by 400 Maryland fighters allowed countless soldiers to flee and fight another day.

After its destruction in the late 1800s, the replica Old Stone House reopened in 1933.