Fiery Sunset over NY ~ Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Success is like reaching an important birthday and finding you’re exactly the same

~ Audrey Hepburn

Success, birthdays, change: I’ll take it all with a good dose of champagne, and an attitude that I’m forever young.

It took one look out of my window to notice the huge ball of orange fire that was setting behind the Williamsburg Bridge – camera in hand, I sprinted up to the rooftop to photograph the sunset. It was as if the fiery shades of red and gold were a nod to the Leo star sign.

Williamsburg Bridge is to the right, and downtown Manhattan with its 1 World Trade Centre – to the left.

Loving Summer ~ Brooklyn, NYC

A life without love is like a year without summer ~ Swedish proverb

Wading through the think humidity that weighs down on Williamsburg, there’s sweet relief in looking up. Up at the leaves that provide shade, listening to their rustle as a breeze runs through them; up at the grey cotton ball clouds, set in formation against the iridescent colours of a NYC dusk.

The days of New York summer are hot, humid, and sensuous; they tease with thunderclouds while wrapping you up in a steamy embrace.

(above) Empire State Building seen from East River

(below) a coconut Italian ice to make the humidity more palatable

(below) Williamsburg Bridge joins Brooklyn to Manhattan. 1 World Trade Centre to the right

(Nearly) Summer Lovin’ – New York City

Basking under the sun’s rays, lounging on the greenest of grass, sneaking in a little sweet indulgence, browsing through treasures at the local flea,  listening to the sounds of salsa…

If all the days of Spring and Summer could be like those that graced New York this weekend, I don’t think I’d ever want to leave the city. Here’s a taste.

Admiring nature’s elegant fringe.

Reclining in the great outdoors. Empire State Building, to the right.

Greeting the new espresso bar Sweetleaf to the ‘hood who lucked it with a perfect opening weekend. An americano, made with precision, accompanied by a cherry and chocolate scone – so worth it.

Walking through the Graham Avenue Fiesta in East Williamsburg.

Queueing up for sugary-sweet snow cones.

Browsing the stalls for garden inspiration.

Grooving to the tunes; dancing in the streets.

Now’s the time for hat shopping.

Catching some shade after a long sun soak.

Picture-worthy windows under the afternoon’s rays.

Visiting the delightful Sunday Brooklyn Flea Market.

Thinking ahead – gifts for Father’s Day (on June 16 in US).

Spotting adorable hand painted hanging art.

Rifling through trinkets and treasures.

Smiling over stuffed drawers of old photographs and postcards.

Wondering what stories these suitcases could tell.

Thinking up uses for these tiny bottles. Beads? Seeds? Potions?

Remembering the rotary telephone – now an antique showpiece next to the smartphone.

Hanging T’s against uptown views…

Williamsburg Bridge and New York’s tallest, One World Trade Centre, in Manhattan’s downtown.

Appreciating the best of both worlds.

Rotating street art points in the direction of home.

The Price of Fame ~ Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY

I was enroute to yoga class, when my Zen bubble was burst; I had spotted a sign by a prominent Manhattan based restaurant pointing in the direction of their newest location. Painted in bright colours on a side street wall that intersects with the neighbourhood’s main artery, Bedford Street, it looks more advertising than street art.

I was overcome by a combination of sadness mixed with compassion and loss. Flourishing, this artist enclave that I so enjoy for its grit-and- arty glam is now code for ‘goldmine’. Don’t get me wrong, the group behind the new restaurant has a very good reputation. The sign simply added to an already built-up set of emotions attributed to a general sense of protectiveness towards the Williamsburg community; I resist significant change from fear that it might change the fabric of a neighbourhood I have grown to love. Reading the sign, the discourse in my mind ran along the lines of, “Don’t run out the small businesses. They’re creating something good here. Please don’t mess it up.” But, then again, it’s already too late.

Vines cultivated in 'treasure'-cans

Williamsburg, reflected

Street Art is the norm in this 'hood

I moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn when it was in the throes of gentrification; since the recession, things have been looking up. I knew it before its skyline was punctuated with the large-scale developments of today; I was drawn to its artisan culture and rich creative community. What I find most alluring about the neighbourhood is its shabby-chic vibe. Here, (most) everything old is new again: in a nod to the past, former barrel making warehouses house café cum coffee roasteries; vintage clothing stores dictate trends on the street; old school looking diners stand in the midst of streets decorated with torn posters, playful street art, and FAILE wall stencils.

Wyeth Diner

A FAILE work, mimicked. On Wyeth Street

Old factories, decorated

In a labyrinth of independently owned storefronts, I remember being baffled when a large-scale Duane Reade opened a location directly across from a long standing mom n pop pharmacy. It didn’t feel right and I wondered how the council permitted it; I now think it was a subliminal message. Manhattanites have caught wind of this new ‘hot spot’ and clamor here on the weekends.  Just recently I read that Whole Foods will be setting up shop in the area; I can’t say I won’t take advantage of the shorter distance to buy produce but I am in no way advocating their choice of new location.

Taking a stand through art

A typical street scene

I can’t speak to what Williamsburg was like before I discovered it over 4 years ago, and subsequently relocating, though evidence of its roots abound. The Williamsburg Bridge, opened in 1903, brought with it a new population of people: second-generation Americans and immigrants including Hasidic Jews, Dominicans, and Puerto Ricans. Renovated warehouses survive their industrial days of glass blowing and metal smithing; the now defunct Domino Sugar Factory is symbolic of a former glory – in the late 19th century, it was the largest sugar refinery in the world.

Backdrop of the Williamsburg Bridge and Domino Sugar Refinery

A game of dominoes

After WWII, trade and industry deteriorated, and about 30 years ago the creative community took over a neighbourhood in despair. Disenchanted with the rent hikes of their reinvigorated SoHo, they crossed the Bridge to the ‘burg to settle and establish an alternative to the downtown art scene. One of my yoga teachers’ remembers stumbling over passed out drug addicts on the steps of her Bedford Street apartment just 15 years back.

Kent Street's warehouses and condos

A storefront

Do tattoos count as street art?

From Williamsburg, you can catch killer views of Manhattan’s skyline – they span downtown and past 42nd Street. Recent waterfront rezoning laws bring to mind a quote by Jackie Onassis when, in opposition to Grand Central Station’s potential wrecking ball fate, she’d stated:

this is the time to take a stand, to reverse the tide, so that we won’t all end up in a uniform world of steel and glass boxes.

Thankfully, the terminal was saved. On the other hand, these 3-year old East River fringing condo towers are hard to miss as are the gaping holes within the grid of streets, which will eventually be occupied with something of the same. I must admit though, I do enjoy sitting in the new waterfront park at their base, to watch the sun cloak the Empire and Chrysler Buildings with a shimmer of copper-gold as it sets.

Scaffolding hide gaps. In turn, they are a canvas for street art.

East River Ferry dock; Empire and Chrysler Buildings in distance

A new take on 'Park n Ride'

My love for the Williamsburg community is unwavering yet coming to terms with inevitable change of the neighborhood is a double-edged sword. As easily as I forget, I must just as quickly remember to embrace the present moment and ride its wave of success, for I too moved here during its early stages of gentrification. Whilst I do find solace in the ability of the artist community to revitalize an otherwise faltering neighbourhood, I can’t help but wonder what will come of Williamsburg in a year’s time.

The Good Old Brooklyn Bridge…

… sang Frank Sinatra in the 1940′s black & white film, It Happened in BrooklynThe Brooklyn Bridge  is such a beautiful song.

If someone asked you to name New York’s top three iconic landmarks, I am sure that nine times out of ten, the Brooklyn Bridge would make the cut. It’s been inspiration for so many films, poems, stories, as well as a setting for life’s moments.

Love moments, locked on the Bridge

Architecturally stunning, from it you can see expansive views of down- and uptown Manhattan, as well as the water tower adorned industrial vista of a lofted Brooklyn. Its prime geographic location and open air viewing deck mean considerably less obstructed vantage points of New York than those seen from the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges. (NB: The Bridge is undergoing renovation at this time so there is scaffolding on part of the way from Brooklyn towards its centre).

Sightseers on scaffolding; uptown Manhattan and the Manhattan Bridge (background)

Scaffolding from Brooklyn side

Unlike its aforementioned siblings, who have separate pathways on either side of them for cyclists and walkers (though the rule is slightly relaxed on the Manhattan Bridge given its current construction detours), on the Brooklyn Bridge, everyone shares the same path. There may be a dividing line to maintain some order, though this is hard to achieve given the throngs of tourists who cross it daily; walkers can be seen strolling shoulder to shoulder and cyclists love to ring their bike-bells to caution stop-start  photographers and gawkers, who may have crossed the line. That said, it is very fun photographing the landmark.

Tripods and Manhattan vistas

As the Brooklyn Bridge is mentioned and/or featured in so many works, I thought I’d share some interesting excerpts with you, so you may get to know it from a number of points of view.

Enjoy!

All photographs are my own – taken between December 2011 and January 2012. A few may have been retouched with the Nikon D5000.

*********************************************************************************************************

I’ve lived most of my life in Manhattan, but as close as Brooklyn is to Manhattan, there are people who live there who have been to Manhattan maybe once or twice. ~ Ellen Burstyn

Brooklyn is very much worth the visit...

Dumbo's lofts from Brooklyn Bridge

Good composition is like a suspension bridge – each line adds strength and takes none away. ~ Robert Henri

View from Broklyn's Fulton Park

Mortimer Brewster: All I did was cross the bridge and I was in Brooklyn. Amazing.     ~Movie: Arsenic and Old Lace

View of Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge

You're in Brooklyn

Sunrise on the bridge
light splashing through the arches
joggers chasing dreams

~ Haiku: Brooklyn Bridge by Laurence Overmire

Since the bridge was completed in 1883, the idea of illegally selling it has become the ultimate example of persuasion. A good salesman could sell it, a great swindler would sell it, and the perfect sucker would fall for the scam. ~ For You, Half Price – New York Times.

A view from the East River shores of Brooklyn

“The oddity of the thing today,” said Luc Sante, author of the book, Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York,  “is not that there might have been con artists ready to see the bridge, but that there would have been suckers gullible enough and sufficiently well-heeled to fall for it.” ~ For You, Half Price – New York Times.

“Up to the 1920′s people were still trying,” Mr Nash said. “But it was a hard sale. Immigrants had become much more sophisticated and knowledgeable, and by that time the processors at Ellis Island were handing out cards or booklets saying, You can’t buy public buildings or streets. These shifts explain why the Brooklyn Bridge is the span associated with swindles; the city’s other bridges were built after the high tide of gullibility had already begun slipping away.” ~ For You, Half Price – New York Times.

re: the above... Is this reflection for sale?

They may call me a ‘rube’ and a ‘hick’. I would rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the man who sold it. ~ Will Rogers

Strolling from Manhattan...

In the 19th century, the bridge was one of the two best-known symbols of America, the other being the Statue of Liberty. ~ Kathleen Hulser, the public historian at the New York Historical Society

Downtown Manhattan from the Bridge; Statue of Liberty - in the far off distance

Another NY icon - the yellow cab

If you’ve been a rover
Journey’s end lies over the Brooklyn Bridge
Don’t let no one tell you
I’ve been tryin’ to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge

All the folks in Manhattan are sad
’cause they look at her and wish they had
The good old Brooklyn Bridge.

~Lyrics: Frank Sinatra sings ‘The Brooklyn Bridge’

Untried expedient, untried; then tried;
way out; way in; romantic passageway
first seen by the eye of the mind,
then by the eye. O steel! O stone!
Climactic ornament, a double rainbow,
as if inverted by French perspicacity,
John Roebling’s monument,
German tenacity’s also;
composite span—an actuality.

~ Poem: Granite and Steel, Marianne Moore

East River against the Arch

O harp and altar, of the fury fused,
(How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)
Terrific threshold of the prophet’s pledge,
Prayer of pariah, and the lover’s cry,–

Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift
Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars,
Beading thy path–condense eternity:
And we have seen night lifted in thine arms.

~ Poem: To Brooklyn Bridge, Hart Crane

Annie Hall: Do you love me?

Alvy Singer: Love is too weak a word for what I feel – I luuurve you, you know, I loave you, I luff you, two F’s, yes I have to invent, of course I – I do, don’t you think I do?

~ Words spoken near the Brooklyn Bridge. From the movie: Annie Hall

View of the Bridge from Dumbo

View from the Manhattan Bridge

The cables that hold up (the Brooklyn Bridge) on big stone piers are beautiful and not hidden. It’s metal in your face taking traditional material and putting it to use in a way that you can see what it can do.  ~ Alan Goodheart

A collection of love locks like the ones found in Paris, Budapest, and Seoul are starting to pile up on the New York City landmark. ~newyork.cbslocal.com

Whenever I think of yesterday,
I close my eyes and see,
That place Just Over The Brooklyn Bridge
That will always be home to me.
It’ll always be home to me.

~ Lyrics: Just Over The Brooklyn Bridge, Art Garfunkel

Postcards from the Edge… of the Manhattan Bridge

Though it was built after the Brooklyn Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge may be perceived as the middle child. Geographically located between them both, it is not as iconic and popular as the Brooklyn Bridge, further south; nor as artsy as the Williamsburg Bridge, to the north (my personal opinion, given its street art and hip connections). The Manhattan Bridge may seem understated yet it is on the cusp of cutting-edge cool. Its sweeping views of Manhattan and Brooklyn are better than those of its suspension-bridge-siblings and it fuses two of my favourite neighbourhoods together – Manhattan’s Chinatown and DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) in Brooklyn – both of which have made homes under the bridge’s overpass in their respective boroughs.

View of Manhattan Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge (far distance) from Brooklyn Bridge

View of Manhattan Bridge from DUMBO

View of Manhattan Bridge from Chinatown

On the Manhattan Bridge, looking at Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO

If looking at a map of East Manhattan, from south to north, you’ll notice four main bridges that cross over the East River. In order, they are the Brooklyn Bridge, then the Manhattan Bridge; followed by the Williamsburg Bridge and 59th Street’s, Queensboro Bridge.

Having recently strolled along the northern and southern walk/bikeways of the Manhattan Bridge, more than anything else, I can easily attest to being mesmerized by the views offered from both sides.

From the graffitied rooftops of Chinatown, and their hanging laundry…

Business shirts and antennas

Graffiti and water towers

A Chinatown streetscape, from the northern side of the walk/bikeway

From Ground Zero towers and City Hall in the background, to laundry and graffiti on rooftops in foreground - from southern side of walk/bikeway

… to the vistas of the Brooklyn Bridge perfectly set as a backdrop, or against the skyscrapers of downtown Manhattan…

A beautiful winter's day, further brightened up by the Brooklyn Bridge - from the southern side

Brooklyn Bridge makes for a perfect backdrop

Up above the traffic

…to the buzz of boat activity on the East River under winter’s sunlight…

Cargo...

Sightseeing boats, downtown

Cargo, from a northern perspective

Sightseeing boat, with Williamsburg Bridge in background

… to the skyline of DUMBO’s industrial buildings and its streetscapes, down below…

A glimpse of a mural on DUMBO's Water Street

Vespas and industrial buildings

DUMBO's rooftops against the Williamsburg Bridge, on the northern side

Rooftops and patios from the southern side of the Manhattan Bridge

View of the Empire–Fulton Ferry Park in DUMBO

… the views from this bridge are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen and enjoyed photographing.

Not only that, but the bridge has no air of pretension… perhaps due to the lack of tourists and crowds (unlike Brooklyn Bridge), which makes for a pleasurable walk across, no matter if you are walking to/from Chinatown or DUMBO. Both neighbourhoods are cool and understated in their own right, just like the bridge that connects them.

Not a bad way to see the Empire State Building. Framed daily, in DUMBO

This is DUMBO! Not many streetscapes can compare to this one

This part of Chinatown, clustered under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass

Street vendors, setting up shop under the Bridge's Overpass, in Chinatown

The Manhattan Bridge was opened in December of 1909, and was the last of the three suspension bridges built to span the East River (after the Brooklyn and Williamsburg Bridges). Since 1982, it has been undergoing a Reconstruction Program at a cost of $834 million that includes rehabilitation of its roadways, subway tracks, walkways, bikeways, replacement of its 628 bridge suspenders and restoration of the Arch and Colonnade that make for a grand entrance/exit on its Manhattan side. The project is expected to be completed in 2013.

Construction signage that pulls at heart strings

Interior rejuvenation

Barricades either left over from New Year's Eve, or for the construction works

That said, it is easy not to notice the construction going on as your eye is dragged across to the views of the East River and its shoreline. Depending which walkway you choose to stroll or cycle along, a vista of either one of those aforementioned bridges will certainly attract your attention. The construction also means that it is easier to use the walk/bikeways simultaneously (usually separate), given the changing construction detours. Surprisingly, bikers and walkers are very respectful of one another, made easier given passersby are frequent, yet minimal in number. (This has been my experience, anyway).

You can ride your bike...

...or you can walk your bike.

No matter what, walkers and cyclists can co-exist on the same walk/bikeway

Next time you’re in New York, make sure to take a strolling trip from East Manhattan to Brooklyn (or v.v.) over the Manhattan Bridge. You won’t be disappointed.

A part of the Brooklyn Bridge, framed

At the base of the Bridge, at Empire-Fulton Ferry Park in Dumbo

Turning to a New Year, and thank you to…

“Every new beginning comes from another beginning’s end.” ~ Seneca

Well, it was a wonderful way to see in the New Year – the weather in New York was comfortably chilly, which made for an even more enjoyable night out sans any sign of a cold snap, slush or snow. Relaxing with excellent company over a bountiful dinner against pristine, million dollar views of Manhattan was pure indulgence, as was the endless champagne sipping, midnight strolling and fireworks watching. Welcome twentytwelve!

Such a good start to 2012 was further enhanced by two fellow bloggers,  Pleasantries & Pit Bulls and lpphotosblog, who have nominated me for the Versatile Blogger award. It’s an honour to be recognised by such thoughtful and inspiring authors+photographers in this way and I thank them both for giving me this New Year’s present!

As I recently posted on this award, I’d like to dedicate this post to the two blogs as my token of thanks. It is a showcase of images from New York that I have entitled, Turning to a New Year. From the lights of Brooklyn and Manhattan on New Year’s Eve, to the perfect day that became New Year’s Day, the photos provide a night & day glimpse of how New York celebrated from another vantage point (that didn’t include a ball drop). A fellow New Yorker, I hope lpphotosblog will recognise some of the vistas.

Seeing as it is New Year’s Day and I do not have a list of resolutions to share, I’ve interspersed quotes about the present moment in response to the recent post by Pleasantries & Pit Bulls: Resolutions: Friend or Foe?

All this good fortune combined has been a fine way to start off the brand new year and I extend the very best wishes to everyone for 2012. Enjoy!

“There’s no time like the present.” ~ Proverb

Views and drinks at Bubby's in Dumbo, Brooklyn on NYE (2011).

“The meeting of two eternities, the past and future….is precisely the present moment.” ~ Henry David Thoreau  

A night time stroll by the Manhattan Bridge with Williamsburg Bridge in background, and Empire State to left.

“People are always asking about the good old days.  I say, why don’t you say the good now days?” ~ Robert M. Young

...Past the Manhattan Bridge and into the bright lights of the Brooklyn Bridge.

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” ~ George Orwell

Off to Brooklyn Heights to watch the fireworks. Moonlit ferry at Statue of Liberty, far left.

“Forever is composed of nows.” ~ Emily Dickinson

The decorated Empire State and Brooklyn Bridge, as seen from Brooklyn Heights.

“The living moment is everything.” ~ D.H. Lawrence

Happy New Year! 12am fireworks

“No yesterdays are ever wasted for those who give themselves to today.”  ~ Brendan Francis

Fireworks from afar...

“With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.”  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Though clear enough to see their beautiful colours....

“Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.”  ~ Cherokee Indian Proverb

... that vividly reflected off the water.

“The present is the ever moving shadow that divides yesterday from tomorrow. In that lies hope.” ~ Frank Lloyd Wright

Starting off the New Year with a walk over the Manhattan Bridge, New Year's Day (2012)...

“The past is a guidepost, not a hitching post.” ~ L. Thomas Holdcroft

...and witnessing the effects of the past evening's festivities.

“The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

"The sun is shining, the weather is sweet..." Bob Marley.

“Life is all memory except for the one present moment that goes by so quick you can hardly catch it going.” ~ Tennessee Williams

A swift capture through the bridge's grills of a sightseeing ferry -a perfect day for it.

“In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.” ~ Leo Tolstoy

Never-seen-before-road-signage.

“I never think of the future.  It comes soon enough.” ~ Albert Einstein

The Manhattan Bridge walk ends in Dumbo. A mural graces a wall on Water Street.

“Life lived for tomorrow will always be just a day away from being realized.” ~ Leo Buscaglia

Curbed Xmas trees outside an art gallery.

“If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you’ll never enjoy the sunshine.” ~ Morris West

The view from Brooklyn Bridge Park is simply stunning.

“If you wait for tomorrow, tomorrow comes.  If you don’t wait for tomorrow, tomorrow comes.” ~ Senegalese Proverb

Quiet contemplation - Brooklyn Bridge to left, Manhattan Bridge to right.

A jug fills drop by drop. ” ~ Buddha

Meaningful message on nearby scaffolding...

“In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

Families gathering by the water's edge (Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges, by day).

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” ~ Buddha

"Jane's Carousel" against the Manhattan Bridge.

“Pick the day. Enjoy it – to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come… The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present – and I don’t want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future.” ~ Audrey Hepburn

And then, a leisurely walk back to Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge!