On Memorial Day, I mixed up my running routine by heading out of Prospect Park to the north, in a general Prospect Heights/Crown Heights direction. With spring migration winding down, I figured it was high time to start reacquainting myself with the less birdy sections of my borough (though as we know, birds are everywhere). And so I meandered through Grand Army Plaza, around the glassy Richard Meier building with the prestigious “1” address, then north on Underhill and east on Park Place. Eventually I hit the complicated intersection where Park Place and Washington and Grand avenues converge to define a small triangle. The triangle is surrounded by a construction fence decorated by multiple artists.
Naturally, I paused to snap photos of my favorite panels:
Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway is notable for a number of reasons. It is the world’s first “parkway” (the word was coined to describe it), designed by the prolific Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux and constructed in the 1870s as part of a grand vision – never achieved – to link Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and other green spaces together via a network of tree-lined, Parisian-style boulevards. From its source at the magnificent (if terrifying for pedestrians) Grand Army Plaza, the parkway flows past the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum before it takes a dog-leg and turns into a much more workaday artery (less like Paris, more like Buffalo) at Ralph Avenue.
Come Labor Day weekend, the parkway will be transformed into an ear-splitting, bejeweled, befeathered and beflagged West Indian carnival. (Summertime in Brooklyn is bracketed by two festive excuses for public semi-nudity, June’s Mermaid Parade in Coney Island being the other one.)
Eastern Parkway is a fun street to run because the two malls that parallel the main traffic lanes, originally intended for horses and carriages, are now given over to pedestrians and cyclists (who seem less crazy here than in many other parts of the borough). You can run long, uninterrupted, relatively uncongested blocks between avenues while taking in the view. Continue reading →