I know it’s a cliché, but this is definitely going to be a work in progress. I have no idea where it’s going.
A little background. I moved to Brooklyn from Queens in June of 2001, against my wishes and as a result of a series of unfortunate occurrences. Like Irina in The Three Sisters dreaming of Moscow, for eight years I schemed and plotted to return to Queens. It wasn’t to be. Earlier this year during one of my regular visits to the central library of the Brooklyn library system (at Grand Army Plaza) I happened to borrow a few books on the history of Brooklyn and immediately became hooked. I thought, “This is a pretty interesting place.”
I really like to walk. I’ve walked New York City since I moved here in the late 1970s. And since I grew up in nearby Connecticut and have visited the city since I was a little kid, I guess you could say I’ve been walking New York City in some manner for most of my life.
As far as transportation goes, my preferences are: 1 walk, 2 bus, 3 subway. Of course I take the train for convenience and speed like anyone in New York who has to get to work and isn’t hip enough to pedal a bike, but I do walk home from midtown to Williamsburg each evening that isn’t pouring rain or bone-chilling cold, which is to say that I enjoy walking and would think nothing of walking around the borough of Brooklyn to see what’s what.
So, I walked to the library one Saturday in late winter when the temperature had spiked and we could all wander around in shirtsleeves for the first time since the previous fall, and I decided to take a walk past the park (Prospect Park that is) to a neighborhood I had always been curious about but never been to: Windsor Terrace. It is the terminus of the B69 bus that I take up Vanderbilt Avenue to Grand Army Plaza from the BQE on cold winter days. I walked down Prospect Park West for the first time (maybe) and found what amounted to a small village in the middle of Brooklyn. I kept walking and found the gate to Green-Wood Cemetery; I kept walking past that and found myself at the top of a hill on a street called McDonald Avenue. At that point, I felt like one of those medieval Irish monks drawing maps of the known world and was ready to slap on the label “Here be Monsters.” For someone who usually has a pretty good sense of direction and loves maps, I had no idea where that road was headed and decided it was plenty for one afternoon.
(I discovered something entertaining on that first walk but it will keep.)
A week or so later I wandered over to the same neighborhood but this time kept going down the hill and walked as far as Church Avenue through a neighhborhood called Kensington and took that street around and back to the park.
A week or so later than that, I walked a little further and was struck by an idea: why not spend the spring and summer walking the borough of Brooklyn? By that time I had become a thorough Brooklyn-phile and thought that it might be a nice way to celebrate my "conversion." Also, it seemed like a nice way to get a tan (that was before I knew how much rain we would get over the next few months).
I am not trying for some kind of Guinness Book record; I am not trying to emulate the fellow I heard of who is walking each and every street in Manhattan and photographing it. I just like to walk, I have the time to do it, and I am curious.
In fact, I wouldn’t even have thought of this blog except that a friend who used to live in Brooklyn but has returned to upstate Connecticut suggested it and said she would definitely read it if I started it. So, here it is, Mary Susan, at least a beginning.
Like I said above, I have no idea where this will go. I find that I enjoy Brooklyn more and more each time I walk out into it, but I can’t say I am going to fill the blog up with historical background or cute stories of times past . . . unless I do, which is to say, life happens and whatever shows up here shows up here.
I carry my digital camera with me everywhere and would like to pop in photos of where I walk and maybe even videos, but we shall see. I'm no Alfred Eisendtsadt.
I guess the main thing you should know is that, at least in some ways, I am pretty naïve when you get right down to it. Maybe many people who have grown up in Brooklyn or lived here many years would (if they even happened upon this blog) react with a bored ho-hum, but I’m like a little kid on Christmas morning when I walk through a new neighborhood. You should have seen me when I accidentally discovered Ebbets Field Houses. Wow!
Another thing you may have to get used to if you find this blog and return to it is that I can get pretty digressive and am liable to maunder on for paragraphs about something that may interest a couple of people in the world. So, you can fast forward or go back to the latest reality TV show.
Full disclosure, as the media types here in NYC like to say (though you have more than likely figured it out by now): I began my walks back in February or March (as far as I can remember) but I am only beginning this blog in July. However, have no fear; since I love to walk, I see no problem in retracing my previous walks. And I’ll just use whatever I find in my journal or memory to supplement what I find that is new.
Stay tuned . . .