Will you have time for tourism?
You better. Brooklyn is packed with things to see and locations that you enlighten you about the city you are traveling to. But they are not obvious. You cannot follow the tracks of dozens of other tourists. So here is a little guide of things you just can't miss:
Steven Hindy was a war correspondent at The Associated Press for six years. He spent most of them in Saudi Arabia, which is governed by the Coran and the Saud family. Both of them strictly forbid the sale of alcohol, even to foreigners.
Thus, as many war correspondents do, Hindy learned how to brew his own beer in the bathtub of his hotel room.
Upon his return to Brooklyn in 1984, he was appalled by the anemic insipidness of America's mass-produced beer. So he did what the American dream would have him do: he recruited his downstairs neighbor to found his own brewing factory and sell their home-made beer.
The resulting beverage, the Brooklyn Lager, is now known as New York's unofficial beer and considered to be one of the best ones in America. Steve Hindy must be the only journalist after Bob Woodward who has made a multi-million career out what he learned on the job.
But there is more to this story than the story itself. The location of the Brooklyn Brewery, on the Jewish neighborhood of Williamsburg, makes for a particularly meaningful symbol, as this was the site where German immigrants constructed their once-iconic breweries in the 19th century.
It carries a sense of tradition, and, while built in the 1990s, makes an excellent connection with Brooklyn tradition
Building parks is always problematic. How does one define a public space without the public using it. How does one decide when too much nature is too much nature? That too many kids' areas and too many kids' areas? The story of the still incomplete Brooklyn Bridge Park is not bereft of these problems. But by the time the park opened it was so belated, that these seem to take a second place.
In 1800s, the half-dozen piers beneath the Brooklyn Bridge were as important as the Bridge itself -- they were the only way to get from Manhattan to the mainland, and all types of goods were moved in and out of the mainland that way.
So, logically, when the 20th century ended, they were useless.
In 1987, after watching them collect dust (and many other things better left unnamed), the powers that be admitted, in a display of discernment, that piers 1, 2, 3 and 5 were no longer needed for their original use. 4 was spared of the humiliation for some reason.
Somehow, it took ten years to decide what to do with that conclusion.
The hardest to believe were the first seven years. It's how long it took authorities to declare the property as surplus, as it wasn't implied by saying that it was not useful anymore. Compared to that, the 3 years that it took them to decide it should be a much-needed park and to form a Downtown Brooklyn Waterfront Local Development Corporation felt like a wheeze.
This corporation commissioned an illustrative master plan to define said park. Since things had already established their pace, this plan took a further 3 years to be complete.
In 2000, the $350 million problem may have a defined form (1.3-mile-long, 70-acre public space along East River) but not a solution. It was suggested that it should be financed through a mix of public money and private sources. The public money suggestion was reasonable and easy -- and they got about $100 million out of the city and the state.
This would allow them to complete at least a park in Pier 1 and to open in 2002. It didn't happen. After several budget and construction problems, the inauguration was pushed back year after year for eight years. Until 2010.
Money started come down as is dosed through a dropper. So there may a certain amount of piers turned into parks by the time you get there. There may only be pier 1. Reviewers say it is a sight to behold. And it certainly will enrich your time in otherwise urban Brooklyn.
I lived with them on Montague Street
in a basement down the stairs,
There was music in the cafes at night
and revolution in the air.
Bob Dylan will not be remembered as a historian. A historic figure, probably. But his poetic, provocative imagery will not be quoted by those trying to explain the precise, objective evolution of a moment in time. Except for that verse from his 1975 classic single Tangle Up in Blue, where he perfectly nails the feeling of Montague street in Brooklyn Heights in the 1960s.
This neighborhood, which is pretty much the first thing you encounter as you finish your ride through the Brooklyn Bridge was then revitalized when a series of new people moved into its unique pre-Civil War houses. They had originally been attracted to the fantastic views of the Manhattan skyline, framed by the always reaffirming Statue of Liberty. They restored the houses, took care of the streets and Brooklyn Heights became the first Historic District in New York.
In time, it would be generally perceived as Brooklyn's capital -- the place where beautiful sunsets happen, where culture must be somehow injected into the air given the neighborhood's notable residents include Walt Whitman, Arthur Miller, Norman Mailer and Truman Capote, where the communion between the synergic and collective New York way of life and one's own soul takes place. And after some more years, it has become a tourist must-see, one of the most-recommended places to see for the New York traveler.