DUMBO: Off the Beaten Path

Sometimes it’s fun to get off the beaten path to visit a neighborhood you haven’t seen in a while. I decided to pay a visit to DUMBO, Brooklyn.
When you get off the subway train at the corner of York and Jay Streets, you instantly feel a little off-kilter. Looming over quaint low-line buildings is the giant structure of the Brooklyn bridge cutting a diagonal path across everything. The contrast between the bridge and the structures beneath it make you a little dizzy and unsure of which direction to walk in at first, but if you pick a direction and start walking, the neighborhood begins to unfold.

DUMBO (which is an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), reminds me of what the SoHo neighborhood in Manhattan was like decades ago when it was still home to art galleries and edgy fashion boutiques. DUMBO is home to an interesting mix of gift shops, restaurants, galleries, surf shops, spas and retailers that seemed to come together organically. The fact that there are not very many chain stores, makes it a refreshing place that reminds you a little of being in another city (Denver perhaps?).

UMBO has also become a hub for Start-ups so its locals are young – hipsters, artists, entrepreneurs and young families with children.Every 3rd Saturday in the Archway under the Manhattan Bridge is Tunnelvision DUMBO, a “celebration of community, music, dancing, and art”. In this cool and shady spot under the arch, is a Beer & Wine Kiosk called The Lighthouse, along with nicely crafted wood and metal picnic tables where you can enjoy a drink and listen to the music.In the historic district between John and York Streets, You can still see the original cobblestone pavement and partially buried train tracks from freight trains that carried goods to and from warehouses & factories during the early 20th century.

Places worth a stop:

PowerHouse Books
This place is filled with wonderful coffee table books, arranged on tables that invite you to browse—It’s an open space with columns and exposed ducts overhead. (And to my surprise, there are a few rows of church pews in the back end of the store).
This store is part of PowerHouse Arena, which is also a gallery, performance and event space.
PowerHouse is at 37 Main Street

This coffee shop’s most notable feature is the very tiny cookies with names like Mary, Susanna, Juliette, and Sadie – Rich chocolate chip, ginger spice, hazelnut with chocolate ganache, and coconut covered orange butter cookies. These cookies are as delicious as they are cute. (Cute price too—4 for about $2.75)
One Girl Cookies is at 33 Main St (corner of Water St.) 

Follow Main Street and enter Brooklyn Bridge Park to find a promenade along the water with breathtaking views of the Brooklyn & Manhattan bridges and the Freedom Tower.

As you stroll along, you will run into a carousel inside a glass box. (Jane’s Carousel) A sign reads 2 Bucks to pony up  - Open 11am – 7pm except Tuesdays.

Next to the carousel are picnic tables where you can bring your own lunch and enjoy the view. An open grassy space lends itself to children at play and grown-ups relaxing in the sun.

This is a great alternative to South Street Seaport—with spectacular views for photographs.

I thought that since Dumbo is outside of Manhattan, there would be fewer crowds, but in true New York fashion, there’s a line for everything that resembles food & drink. No exception is Grimaldi’s Pizza—a world famous pizza place at No. 1 Water Street. They don’t sell slices, and they don’t take credit cards, but the line to get in was half a block long.

Other spots for a bite to eat:
(On Water Street)
Ignazio’s Pizza – Freshly made pizza
Number 7 Sub – Sub sandwiches
Shake shack – One of New York’s most popular burger chains
Luke’s – for Maine Lobster Rolls

And on Old Fulton Street, don’t miss stopping at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory
For the fashionista in you there’s a place called Nos on the corner of Washington and Front Streets, which offers simple casual styles. And on the next block is Zoe. This one is worth a stop for the contemporary fashion lover. It offers sleek styles from labels like Lanvin, Proenza Schouler, Isabel Marant, TRYB, and Balenciaga.

So if you’re looking for a change of scenery—go ahead and cross over. DUMBO is only 5 minutes away from Manhattan.
By Jill Davis Kone

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