On The Waterfront: From Dumbo to Williamsburg

When last we met we were on the Lower East Side. “So where do we go from here?,” you’re no doubt wondering.

Guest post by Bike Snob NYC

Well, today we’re going to cross the East River and take a little spin along the Brooklyn waterfront–or at least I am, but I encourage you to hop on a Citi Bike yourself and retrace my steps.


From the Tenement Museum I walked over to the Citi Bike station at Forsyth Street, which just happens to be adjacent to “The Pit,” New York City’s de facto bike polo court:


If you’re unfamiliar with bike polo, it’s basically like regular polo, only with bikes instead of horses and hipsters instead of people with country estates who think yachting has gone too downmarket:


Indeed, for a brief moment I considered checking out a Citi Bike and jumping in the game myself, but then I thought better of it because as a Citi Bike member they have my payment information and I didn’t want to get stuck for the damages:


So instead I headed south to the Manhattan Bridge:

Despite the imposing structure marking the automobile entrance the Manhattan Bridge is highly accessible by bicycle.


Once you’re on that span you’re committed:


The Manhattan Bridge may lack some of the obvious charms of its more photogenic next-door neighbor the Brooklyn Bridge–it’s not as old, it’s more industrial looking, the subway rumbles over it–but it is by far the better bike route for the simple reason that it is not thronged with tourists. Also, it still affords you a pretty decent view:


I know what you’re thinking, and I can assure you I didn’t stage that photo. That’s just how I found them, Citi Bikes and all. I mean come on, don’t you think if I had staged it I would have found this guy a date as well?


Gimme some credit.

Anyway, once you pass the midpoint of the span the descent into Brooklyn is swift and exhilarating:


And as you make landfall you’ll observe the warehouses of Dumbo:


Dumbo of course stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, and the warehouses now house not wares but luxury condos and tech company offices.

Alighting from the bridge I headed towards the waterfront and soon spied a sign pointing me towards the Brooklyn Flea:


I’ve never been one to ignore a sandwich board, and so I docked my bike and checked it out:


There were typewriters:


And vintage pre-gnawed baby blocks going for an astounding $6 a pop:


And non-Citi Bike bicycles:


And clothing and accessories:


And even the contents of Dan’s parents’ house, who apparently have something of a hoarding problem:


There were also records:


As well as stuff made from those records:


And of course the option to pay $5 for a photo of yourself rendered in an obsolete medium:


That may seem a lot to pay for a Polaroid, but it’s still a bargain compared to those baby blocks.

And if that wasn’t enough, there were also food and toilets!


Though there appeared to be sizable lines for both:


There’s nothing more Brooklyn than waiting on line for locally-sourced comestibles while flapping your $5 Polaroid.

As for me, I managed to resist all of these things (sadly you can’t blog with a typewriter) and pushed on through to the waterfront:


Where Brooklyn greets Manhattan with an azure “YO:”


While simultaneously greeting the rest of Brooklyn with an all-caps “OY.”

This is the spot to engage in some truly world-class lounging:


As well as to take the obligatory cobblestone street photo:

Next I grabbed another Citi Bike, and from Dumbo I headed onto the Sands Street bicycle path, which is easily one of the most impressive specimens of bicycle infrastructure in all of New York City:


And then onto Flushing Avenue (also amply bike-laned) which takes you past the Brooklyn Navy Yards and the crumbling remains of Admiral’s Row:


As well as the sections of the Navy Yard that have been refurbished and now house various Brooklyn-based businesses:


As well as a film and television studio:


After passing the studio I picked up the protected lane on Flushing Avenue:


And then a quick couple of lefts put me onto Kent Avenue and the bike highway that takes you to Williamsburg and beyond:


You’ll know you’re in Williamsburg when you see its eponymous bridge:


Williamsburg has changed and continues to change perhaps more rapidly than any other neighborhood in the city, and at times it can feel like being inside one of those home renovation shows on HGTV. Older buildings have been renovated:


New buildings have landed from outer space:


And artfully distressed walls suitable for serving as backdrops in music videos (like the one being filmed at this moment) are increasingly at a premium:


Leaving the waterfront I docked my Citi Bike and headed over towards Bedford Avenue:


Where there are about a zillion places to eat, drink, and buy stuff:


This time I ignored the sandwich board:


Though I had a harder time foregoing the beer tour:


Instead, on I walked, past the brunchers and the beer tours and the stoop bros:


Until I arrived at McCarren Park:


Which is an ideal place to take a stroll:


Or watch more feats of hipster athleticism:


Alas, between the bike polo and the millennial softball game we have now come full circle, so let’s dock here before we pick up the next portion of our journey:


Which will take us to the exotic land of Queens.

Eben Weiss is also the author of The Ultimate Bicycle Owner’s Manual.