Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Riding Brooklyn - A First Look

Brooklyn is a better place to bicycle than I had thought. Two weeks ago during a break from the cold weather I started out on what I'd planned to be a short ride from my apartment in Park Slope. I rode the half block to Prospect Park and the three mile road around the park’s perimeter. Then, I decided to explore Brooklyn. I rode out of the park at the southeast corner roundabout. From there I continued West along 15th street toward Red Hook. I wanted to see how long it would take me to get to Home Depot, where I had walked the weekend before in a half hour.

By bike the trip took just five minutes, but seemed much shorter. When I got to busy Third Avenue I bypassed the store, turned left and began to ride south deep into Brooklyn. Third Avenue is a wide, busy road lined with cement-colored factories and warehouses. I’d hoped to ride for just a short distance and and find a place where I could turn right, toward New York Harbor, and ride along the water. But a row of industrial buildings lining the waterfront continued for blocks, blocking access to the harbor.

I rode about a mile and finally saw an opening. I turned right on what was probably 45th Street and ended up at the parking lot of the New York Maritime Armory (or something similarly named). The gate to the parking lot was open, yet the presence of a manned guard station made the place look unwelcome. I continued instead down a narrow road between one of the armory buildings and a factory, and came upon a quarter mile long ferry pier.

There were no boats on the pier. There was a group of fisherman, however, at the far end. Mostly short Mexicans that seemed somehow out of place on the waters of New York, four or five of them stood around talking while their poles leaned motionless on the pier railing. Nothing bit at their lines. I sat down on a bench and looked out directly into New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. To my right, surprisingly far away, was Manhattan. The City barely rises out of the water. A wave could cover it. Straight ahead was Staten Island, with its hills that slope high out of the harbor. I started to get cold, and got back on my bike.

Back on Third Avenue I continued South. Around 60th Street the warehouses disappeared, replaced by three story residential buildings with storefronts. A main street of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

…to be continued…

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