Archive for the ‘Brooklyn’ Category

Fort Greene Park

October 21, 2011

Fort Greene Park was the first designated park in Brooklyn.  One can easily miss the significance of this given its more well-known sister Prospect Park to the south. As can be guessed by the name, Fort Greene was indeed a location for forts centuries ago. The forts were created for the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Today, the park is a nice hilly 30-acre neighborhood oasis. If you happen to be in the area, you should also explore the streets to the east and south of the park. They are lined with gorgeous brownstones!

Fort Greene Park

There are 6 tennis courts, but you will need a permit to play.
Fort Greene Park

The park is easily accessible from almost all the subway lines: the B, D, N, Q, R on Dekalb Ave to the west, the 2,3,4,5 on Nevins St to the southwest, the G at Fulton St to the south, and the A, C on Lafayette Ave a little further south. Some other things to note: the park also has basketball courts and barbecue areas. If you like to support your local farmers, there is a year-round farmers market in the southeast corner of the park every Saturday.

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Narrows Botanical Gardens

October 1, 2010

This garden, composed of multiple separate gardens, would never have been on my radar if not for a two sentence description in Time Out NY.  I don’t remember the description anymore, but the fact that this obscure garden existed outside my realm of knowledge was intriguing enough for a look-see.

The first thing you notice about the garden is that its 4+ acres stretches out next to the East river like a belt, more narrow than wide.   The river views are not that impressive, and neither is the noise from the highway next to it, but if you look more closely, you will admire the skill and effort of the volunteers who single handedly maintain this garden.

Here are some of the different gardens that you’ll find.

Narrows Botanical Garden

Narrows Botanical Garden

Narrows Botanical Garden

Some paths around the gardens.

Narrows Botanical Garden

Narrows Botanical Garden

There is a large lawn in the middle of the garden. I saw some people with lawn chairs sitting and chatting.

Narrows Botanical Garden

There’s also a Zen garden.

Narrows Botanical Garden

I wouldn’t say this garden is a destination.  Its size merits a half hour leisurely stroll from end to end, and that is being generous.  However, if you happen to be in the neighborhood, it may be worth a visit.  The garden is located in Bay Ridge and is more easily accessible by car.  Take the Belt Parkway to Exit 1 – 67th Street, right at light onto Ridge Boulevard, right onto Bay Ridge Avenue.  Go down Bay Ridge Avenue to Shore Parkway, then turn left.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

September 24, 2010

There’s a new kid in town and its name is Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1. I’m excited that they’re revitalizing the west coastline of Brooklyn in the same way that they’ve developed Hudson River Park. Judging by the first pier that they’ve finished, Pier 1, it looks to be very similar in style to Hudson River Park, except there’s more elevation in this one. There’s also a fine view of downtown Manhattan. The park at Pier 6 is being created as we speak, but only the children’s playground is there, and I didn’t want to take pics of that, so the pics below are only of Pier 1. It was a cloudy day too, so they’re not the best pics. However, they should give you an idea of what’s in store for you.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

This is the view from the stone steps.
Brooklyn Bridge Park

There’s a nice expanse of lawn. They hold movie screenings here.
Brooklyn Bridge Park

This is a marshy area between Pier 1 and Pier 2.
Brooklyn Bridge Park

Next to the marshes is a kayak docking area. We saw a number of colorful kayaks come in.
Brooklyn Bridge Park

I think the best way to get to Brooklyn Bridge Park is to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan. It’s a one-mile walk on the bridge itself and probably only half a mile more from there. If you want to get directly there by subway, you can take the A/C to High Street, the 2/3 to Clark Street, or the F to York Street.

Prospect Park

June 25, 2010

If Central Park and Prospect Park were to compete for most beautiful, Prospect Park would win hands down.  There’s something about the layout here that’s dreamy.  Is it the lacy trees that drape onto the ponds?  The undulating hills at every open lawn?   You can loose yourself in this park and emerge a changed person.

Prospect Park

Prospect Park

Prospect Park

Prospect Park

Prospect Park

Prospect Park

The park is perfect for picnics and BBQs.  You can set up your grills at designated spots throughout the park.  The area near the picnic house seems to be very popular and has parking close by.  There are events that take place throughout the year, many for kids.   Click here for the calendar.   There is also a skating rink, an Audobon Center, a ballfield, tennis center, and zoo.  For the more adventurous, horseback riding is available.  Click here for an interactive map of the park.  You can get to the park using various trains:  F train at 7th Ave. station, 15th St./Prospect Park station and Fort Hamilton Parkway station; 2 or 3 train at Grand Army Plaza station; Q train at Parkside Ave. station and Prospect Park station; S train at Prospect Park station; and the B train at Prospect Park station.  For driving directions, click here.

Green-Wood Cemetery

May 21, 2010

Some people may find it strange that I would include a cemetery in this blog. Normally, I would feel weird hanging out at a cemetery when I have no business being there, but Green-Wood is the kind of place where nature competes so well with the headstones and mausoleums, you actually forget for a minute that its purpose is to house the dead. It’s also the quietest outdoor spot you’ll find on this blog. For obvious reasons.

Landscaped like a park, with several lakes, and bird wildlife to match, it is also gets the award for the most beautiful cemetery in the city. Historically, people of the long-gloved and parasol set used to bring their picnics here. These days, it is better known as a resting place for a number of famous personalities- “Boss” Tweed, Leonard Bernstein, and Jean-Michel Basquiat – to name a few.

On the day I came here, I saw two stunning lakes. This first one was very atmospheric with a resident crane or egret (unfortunately, I don’t know my birds).

Greenwood cemetery

Greenwood cemetery

Further in, you will find this lake, maybe populated by geese when you arrive. You can rest up on the many stone benches here.

The rest of the cemetery is great for taking in the peace and quiet. There are beautiful statues and mausoleums scattered throughout that deserve a closer look.

Greenwood cemetery

Greenwood cemetery

Greenwood cemetery

Located at 500 25th St in Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn, the cemetery is one block east of the 25th St station on the R line. You can also drive inside the cemetery. At 478 acres, this place is huge and you may prefer to drive through and make stops along the way. Driving directions can be found here. The hours are 8am to 5pm daily. No pets, bikes, or food allowed.

Pratt Sculpture Garden

April 16, 2010

This post is by guest writer Rachel Alexandra, a fellow outdoor enthusiast. I’m hoping to rotate in a guest writer once a month who will feature an outdoor spot that I haven’t had a chance to visit yet or have no pictures of. Please let me know if you’re interested in writing a future post.

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New York City is home to a myriad of well renowned colleges and institutions. Some of them encompass fantastic outdoor space and marry art, education, and culture. The nice thing about it is that you don’t necessarily have to be a student to attend or participate. One of these great places is the Pratt Sculpture Garden located in the heart of Pratt Institute, a private art/design/architectural school in Brooklyn. It’s about a half hour ride from Manhattan and requires a few transfers on the L and G lines, but the light trek is worth it. The Bedford Stuyvesant area is mostly residential, but once you get to the Pratt Sculpture Garden, it’s as if you are miles away from the boroughs and smack in a wonderland.

Pratt Sculpture Garden

There are more than two dozen sculptures sprinkled throughout the garden. The sculptures range in size from life-size to building. The variety of concept and materials used is impressive and unique. From stone and marble to plaster and wood, Pratt does a wonderful job in offering everything obscure and poignant to awaken the senses.

Pratt Sculpture Garden

A few sculptures seem to be staples in the garden, while some are clearly rotating around the globe and are temporarily parked at Pratt. Each sculpture comes with a plaque explaining the piece and telling a little bit about the artist. All in a lovely green space, some of the sculptures even incorporate the standing trees in the garden. It is not uncommon to see people like forms made out of twigs entwined around the trunks or spinning bee hives in the air touching the top branches. The garden is sizable and is a nice hour long stroll.

Pratt Sculpture Garden

There are many benches to sit on and it is not uncommon to see students filming a movie, graduate students pouring over books or people sketching. The Pratt Sculpture Garden is even open for picnics and sun bathing. It is an open, clean, safe and well respected space. On the day I went there was no loud music, screaming or unwanted guests. It was truly a day of relaxation and art.

Pratt Sculpture Garden

Pratt Sculpture Garden

The Pratt Sculpture Garden is located at 200 Willoughby Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11205. To get there from Manhattan take the Brooklyn bound L train and transfer at Lorimer to the G train at Metropolitan Avenue going towards Brooklyn/Church. Get off at Classon Ave. Walk north on Classon and make a left on Willoughby to the Pratt campus. The sculpture garden is open to the public daily and is guarded with security. If you plan to drive there, there is ample street parking available. If you happen to be hungry or want a quick snack, the local pizzeria Luigi is right around the corner (326 DeKalb Avenue) and is highly recommended!

Brooklyn Botanic Garden- Cherry Blossoms

April 2, 2010

The city’s two main botanical gardens are a great way to smell the roses, figuratively and literally, with just the swipe of a Metrocard.  When it comes to seasonal events, however, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden wins out each spring with its colorful display of cherry blossoms.  The cherry blossoms are already blooming, so probably in the next 2 weeks, you will see the full spectrum of pink descend upon the garden! Pack your camera and go! Or, if you want to wait a bit, the garden hosts a weekend festival called Sakura Matsura each year at this time.  This year, the festival is on May 1 and 2.  The festival is more than just cherry blossoms.  It highlights the more popular aspects of Japanese culture, with music and dance performances, flower arrangements, and tea ceremonies, among other things.   There are also workshops for kiddies.  Here are a few pics of the festival taken a few years ago.

IMG_1530

This parade is not to be missed.  Consult your weekend program for parade hours.

The Japanese take their flower arrangements very seriously. It is taught in thousands of schools dedicated to this craft in Japan.  Called ikebana, it has its roots in Buddhism.

While the festival itself is a great way to spend an afternoon, don’t forget to wander around the rest of the garden.  You can soak up more Japanese culture by taking a stroll in the nearby Japanese Hill-and-Pond garden.

I suggest stopping by the edges of the Japanese pond to get a peek at some of the turtles that call it home.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is located at 1000 Washington Ave.  It is open every day except Mondays.  The hours vary by season, so check here for the most current hours.  Admission is normally $8, but if you’re doing the cherry blossom festival, it will be $15 total. There is an hourly parking fee for those driving in.  The garden is also easy to get to by subway.  Take the 2 or 3 to Eastern Parkway—Brooklyn Museum station; B or Q to Prospect Park station; 4 or 5 to Franklin Avenue; or S shuttle to Prospect Park station.  (The B train does not run on weekends.)