50 Favorite Places #4
Bond St in Manhattan runs for two picturesque, Belgian block-paved blocks in NoHo. It’s lined with artful boutiques, luxury apartments and expensive restaurants, and is beloved by Instagrammers.
This is not about that Bond St.
Bond St in Brooklyn runs for roughly a mile, starting at 4th St in the Gowanus neighborhood, cutting through Boerum Hill and across Atlantic Avenue, eventually making a hard right in Downtown Brooklyn and becoming Dekalb. Sections of it have long been part of several of my standard running routes (e.g., my short Gowanus loop, my over-the-Brooklyn-Bridge 10 miler, and my Damascus-Bakery-is-calling-me ata’if route, among others). So I’ve watched the street change over the years, for good and bad and “it depends,” but until I decided to write about it here, I’d never traversed its full length in one go.
Come along with me, then, and explore Bond St from south to north. (If you’re not a runner, don’t worry – I’m currently injured, so we’ll be moving at an easy walking pace.) Continue reading
I’ve posted several times about the unknown artist(s) whose sardonic observations are pasted on walls around the borough – most recently here. Over the past year, I’ve watched their sayings fade, rip and generally deteriorate, with no new contributions..
Until this week, when the piece at the top of this post appeared on Union St in Park Slope. I’m including it here for the record . . . and in hopes that Brooklyn-based readers may respond with their own sightings.
(“Back at it” also refers to me and this blog. I’m planning a new focus for 2020, so stay tuned.)
. . .
While photographing the Smith-9th station in mid-January, I found this:
And, while running through Gowanus (6th St between Second and Third avenues) in early February, this:
Or perhaps I should say “newish;” I missed an opportunity to document its creation last summer. I did see it in its earliest stages, when I went for a run along Brooklyn’s industrial waterfront in mid-July, right at the beginning of one of our heat waves. A group of young people was gathered by one of the long, low-slung buildings along First Avenue, between the south entrance to Bush Terminal Park and the Brooklyn Army Terminal, and I stopped to chat with them, because I know how much teenagers enjoy talking with sweaty, middle-aged women. I could see what looked like the beginnings of a mural behind them – splotches of color, sweeping, curved lines, all very abstract – and asked if that’s what it was, and if they part of the crew putting it up. Yes, they told me. Continue reading
I’m in northwest Ohio this week for the “Biggest Week in American Birding,” returning to the streets and landscapes of my childhood to watch thousands of birds make their own journey north. I’ll have more to say about my trip in a post-to-come.
In the meantime, here’s a series of poignant, hopeful murals that make the connection between the migrations of birds and people. They’ve adorned the exterior of P.S. 24 in Sunset Park for years now, and while time has worn and faded them, they’re still beautiful.
A proud Sunset Park machine shop
In honor of May Day, also know as International Workers’ Day, coming up on Wednesday: images of work and workers from around the borough.
The first couple of examples aren’t street art proper, but I love them anyway. The gears and fasteners at the top of the post aren’t retro, or ironic, or historical: they decorate the walls of a small machine shop on the northern edge of Sunset Park. I choose to believe that one of the workers there – a skilled painter as well as a machinist – suggested festooning the outside walls with images of precision tools and quality products. Continue reading
Red Hook has long been one of my favorite running destinations. When Eric and I were first together, and I was using my visits to explore Brooklyn, Red Hook seemed to me like the quintessential Brooklyn neighborhood: low-rise, industrial, unpretentious, tight-knit, nautical.
Once I moved here for good, I decided that I loved it because those same attributes reminded me of Detroit.
It’s also a great neighborhood for street art, and over the years, I’ve compiled quite a gallery of snapshots taken on the run. Some of the works still exist in more-or-less their original state, some have gone the way of the old Revere sugar refinery, and some are weathered and tagged-up (kind of like me).
A sampling follows. Continue reading
Today’s look at Brooklyn street art focuses on street art that’s not only aware of itself as street art, it demands that you be aware of it, too.
Like this late, great piece in Gowanus, dripping with irony as well as gold.
Then there’s this contribution, which can still be seen in Bed Stuy.
And this from Bushwick, with extra irony courtesy of a passerby.
But my hands-down favorite is the piece at the top of this post, found in Sunset Park. I like the fact that there’s nothing ironic about it. It’s clever, sure, but it’s cleverness that celebrates creativity, not the other way around.
In honor of the Frida Kahlo exhibit currently on display at the Brooklyn Museum, I present . . . this strange and unsettling mural in Prospect Heights (on Park between Vanderbilt and Underhill).
While I’m not actually a huge fan of Kahlo’s art, and am bemused by the cult-like following that’s sprung up around her, there’s no denying her creativity, her capacity for self-invention, and the fascination of her too-short life. This mural honors all those things, I think.
The most reliable place to see eagles in Brooklyn? The walls and shutters of Sunset Park.
There’s something special about urban raptors. To catch a glimpse of a soaring turkey vulture from the F train, to see a peregrine falcon in a high-speed dive, or to watch red-tailed hawks perch on a fire escape is to be reminded that there’s an older, fiercer, wilder city within the city. Continue reading
Food and desire in Carroll Gardens
There are certain naming conventions for bodegas. Initials are popular (“L&L Grocery Deli”); so are street numbers (“513 Deli & Grill”). Many bodega names pay tribute to the owners’ city or region of origin (witness the Punjab and Himalayan groceries in Kensington, or the Pueblas, Cholulas and Chinantlas scattered across the borough). In gentrified neighborhoods, bodegas often incorporate “gourmet,” “organic,” or “fresh” into their signage – even as their shelves overflow with Doritos and Red Bull.
This post pays tribute to bodegas that break with convention, adopting names that are especially evocative, sweet, retro or just plain odd.
A sampling follows. Continue reading