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 the Brooklyn Bridge would make the cut. It’s inspired so many films, poems, stories, and life moments.

Love moments, locked on the Bridge

From this architecturally stunning structure, an open-air viewing deck grant visitors unobstructed New York views, unlike 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

On the Brooklyn Bridge, everyone shares the same path, which means mayhem. Although a dividing line maintains some order, it doesn’t succeed given the throngs of tourists descend on the bridge daily. Walkers brush shoulders as the stroll from Manhattan to Brooklyn, or vive versa. Cyclists ding their bike bells to caution photographers and other gawkers, who may have crossed into the bike lane. 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.


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.

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 Manhattan Bridge

It may have been built after Brooklyn Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge, but Manhattan Bridge is the middle child. Poised between its predecessors, it is neither as iconic as Brooklyn Bridge, nor as artsy as Williamsburg Bridge, but a lack of pretense makes it cool. Overlooking sweeping views of Manhattan and Brooklyn, it joins two of my favourite neighbourhoods: Manhattan’s Chinatown and Brooklyn’s DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass).

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 you look at a map of Manhattan, from south to north, you’ll notice four bridges cross the East River: Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge, and Queensboro Bridge at 59th Street.

I recently strolled across Manhattan Bridge and saw..

the graffiti-riddled rooftops of Chinatown

pops of water towers…

Ground Zero towers and City Hall…

Brooklyn Bridge and downtown’s skyscrapers…

boat activity on the East River…

cargo ships…

sightseeing ferries…

DUMBO streets…

vespas and industrial buildings…

rooftops against the Williamsburg Bridge…

expansive patios overlooking the East River…

the Empire–Fulton Ferry Park in DUMBO.

The bridge’s lack of tourists and crowds (unlike Brooklyn Bridge) makes for a pleasurable walk from Chinatown to DUMBO, and vice versa.

The Empire State Building, framed by DUMBO.

Chinatown, clustered under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.

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

Manhattan Bridge, opened December 1909, was the last of the three suspension bridges built across the East River. Since 1982, it has undergone a Reconstruction Program at a cost of $834 million to rehabilitate its roadways, subway tracks, walkways, bikeways; replace its 628 bridge suspenders; and restore its Arch and Colonnade. The project is scheduled for completion in 2013.


Barricades left over from New Year’s Eve

Views of the East River draw the eye across the water and over to the adjacent bridges. Ongoing construction means the rules for the walk- and bike-ways have been relaxed (they ate usually separate). Surprisingly, bikers and walkers are very respectful of one another.

Next time you’re in New York, take a stroll across Manhattan Bridge to Brooklyn, or vice versa. You won’t be disappointed.

See the Brooklyn Bridge?

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


“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!