Brooklyn Beta

Here’s some beta I collected on Brooklyn while attending the Sakura Matsuri festival in Brooklyn Botanic Garden yesterday:

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a nice place to spend a summer day. It’s not as large or classy as Longwood Gardens near Philadelphia, but it’s definitely worth a short visit if you’re in the area. On normal days, there is free admission before noon and parking is not too difficult to find along

Flatbush Avenue
. It’s the perfect place to sit down with a laptop or book under a shade tree. On festival days, expect huge crowds and scarce parking. It was overcrowded in my opinion; all the walking paths were jammed, there were long lines to get into the Conservatories, in addition to an $8 admission fee at the end of a long line outside the entrance gate. The performances were great, and included taiko drumming, samurai sword fighting, and other acrobatics. Bottles of Saki were being passed around under some of the cherry trees. The crowd was enthused and very energetic. To tour the entire Garden on a festival day, it is necessary to have a whole day and lots of patience for huge crowds. I was there only about two hours.

Fulton Street Mall is located on Fulton Street just south of Flatbush Avenue.

Fulton Street
is closed to traffic and is lined with small stores. The surrounding streets are all shopping area, mostly of the small inner-city type stores. This area seems well used and is not particularly outstanding. The food courts are dingy and unfinished. I suppose this would be a good area for discount or ethnic clothing shopping. Don’t expect Madison Ave stuff here.

In the past, I have tried in vain to access the Esplanade, located above the BQE along the river. Yesterday I found it. The Esplanade is bounded by Remsen Street at the south end and Orange Street at the north end. All these streets end at the Esplanade. There is a good view of Governor’s Island, and a unique angle on Lower Manhattan and the Staten Island Ferry. Brooklyn Heights invites a leisurely stroll on a nice day. A very quiet, clean residential neighborhood featuring streets lined with Federal Brownstone mansions and mature shade trees- this is quite possibly Brooklyn’s most attractive neighborhood. Montague Street has many nice-looking restaurants and coffee shops, as well as some trendy thrift stores and used-book stores.

I wanted to pinpoint some antique stores on Atlantic Avenue, and I found them between Bond and Smith Streets. However, bear in mind that these are the elite of antique shops, having in their stock some quite fine and valuable specimens. Browsing here is entertaining, but the prices are far above the means of common folk. There are quite a few stores that are piled to the ceiling with small pieces of yesterday’s necessities that, with patience and a lot of digging, may yield treasures to those so inclined.

Greenwood Cemetery is a large cemetery in Brooklyn, possibly one of the oldest, judging by the architecture of the gatehouses and the age of the trees on the privately owned grounds. The main entrance is on 5th Avenue at 25 Street, and the gatehouse here is spectacular. The grounds are open to the public year-round 8am to 6pm with some variations. No admission is charged and visitors are free to drive and park along the roads to walk the many narrow paths between the roads. Ask for a map at the entrance. Navigation is challenging due to the many curves and hills in this area. Brooklyn’s highest point of land is within this cemetery. From here one can see the Brooklyn cruise docks and overlook the New YorkHarbor. Some people who are buried here include: William Marcy ‘Boss’ Tweed, James Ives of Currier & Ives, Samuel Morse, Peter Cooper, Henry Ward Beecher, and many others noted in the history of New York City and America.

Fifth Avenue has a fair lineup of restaurants near Atlantic Avenue. Between

Atlantic Ave.
Lincoln Pl.
are mainly Italian cafes; between
Lincoln Pl.
and 14 St. are a number of hip looking Mexican cafes. Almost all have sidewalk dining in fair weather. The prices here are lower than a comparable experience in Manhattan. I had a pleasant Italian meal alfresco for $15.

Brooklyn is a fun place to spend the day, though it is possible to leave New York City feeling as if you haven’t seen any of the ‘real’ NYC. Most people’s concept of NYC does not include any Brooklyn landmarks, and few of the street names jive with pop culture. Also, if one gets off track it is possible to end up in ghetto-like places. How often does a person get to spend a day touring parks, cemeteries, and neighborhoods? Altogether it was a fun and interesting day.