The Brooklyn Bridge

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The Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge is also a band. I went to high school with band members Shelley, the trumpet player (he’s on the left, if you click on the hyperlink, above) and Artie, the drummer. You can also check out their hit recording — The Worst That Could Happen — on that same link.

I’d always wondered if they had chosen that name because of the bridge itself or because, like so many Long Islanders back then, their roots were in Brooklyn and the name somehow acknowledged that. Maybe a bit of both.

Since my own roots are in Brooklyn, the place of my birth and where I attended kindergarten from September through March, I’ve always wanted to walk across the bridge. Last Sunday, 62 degrees and a day tailor-made day for such an endeavor, J.C. and I took the E train to Lexington and 53rd, transferred to the #6 train and took it to the City Hall/Brooklyn Bridge stop.

•DSC_0778We followed the signs until we reached the pedestrian walkway. Crowds of people had the same idea as we did. Everyone seemed to be in a joyful mood. And why not? The view was staggering.

•DSC_0833There are so many reasons to love New York.

Moving back to the city, for me, was like getting a second chance at a relationship that I had somehow botched or not fully appreciated or taken for granted during the initial run.

Now, miraculously, it’s as if I’ve been asked back and invited to atone for my past indifference to all its wonder by embracing a little piece of it one day at a time, eyes wide open.

And as a reward, the Brooklyn Bridge, on this day, did its best to entertain:

•DSC_0841Hello, Freddie Kruger Fruit Head!

 

•DSC_0831Hola, Leg Man!

Coincidentally — or maybe not — I’d been re-watching a set of DVDs that were originally aired on PBS, from The American Experience series, about the history of New York. An obsessively fascinating historical saga of this great city, the night before our trek to Brooklyn we happened to have watched the segment on the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Which, of course, spurred us on. Crossing over to Brooklyn on this bridge — and, wow, have there been lots of modernization and changes in Brooklyn since I’d left 13 years ago (the DUMBO area, for instance, it’s gorgeous) — still feels like a walk back in time.

It never fails to stun me whenever I come across a plaque commemorating an event from the 1600s.

Since we were on the east end of the bridge, I wanted to walk over to Brooklyn Heights, always a lovely neighborhood to visit (it’s the area where one of my favorite films [for many reasons — not the least of which is that I’m half Italian] Moonstruck, was set).

I also wanted to pass by the Hotel St. George, an historical landmark my father loved and once worked in back in the 1940s (I believe it was his first job).

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Seeing the hotel in person was having him back for a tiny interval. I imagined him, a young man of twenty-one or twenty-two, proudly reporting to work in his white shirt, black pants and bow tie.

Brooklyn Heights is such a beautiful community — both of us remarked on how quiet it is (compared to Jackson Heights). And it’s proliferated by homes that look like this:

•DSC_0797It’s not unlike the Castorini’s home in “Moonstruck” — and it brings to mind the funny exchange (written by John Patrick Shanley) carried on by John Mahoney’s character as he walks home Olympia Dukasis’s character:

“Wow, this is some house. What does your husband do?”

“He’s a plumber.”

“Well, then, that explains it!”

Before we headed to the Promenade, we stopped for brunch at the delightful Heights Cafe.

•DSC_0799See the empty table next to the second bank of windows? That was our table. It was such a beautiful day, I could have sat there the entire afternoon and people-watched. But I wanted to show J.C. the view from the Promenade.

We were not disappointed!

•DSC_0816Construction was underway all along the piers. Everywhere you looked, ground was being broken for a new park. You can say what you want about Mayor Bloomberg (who just squeaked through by 5% margin for another term), the city has never looked so beautiful and prosperous.

As we learned from The American Experience DVDs, parkland in Manhattan has always been paid for by New Yorkers (wealthy New Yorkers sharing their wealth with the city’s population) — and not the city government.

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One final glimpse at the area before we go, in particular, at the River Cafe — an absolute gem of a restaurant that overlooks the downtown skyline, where I once had the most delicious vegetable lasagna I’ve ever eaten — and where, one day, I would like to buy a ticket for a table-side window on the Fourth of July and watch the fireworks over the river while enjoying a sumptuous meal. How about that?
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Our plans were to catch the subway at Clark St. (inside the Hotel St. George — which, by the way, is now student housing) — but our walk to the Brooklyn side was so enjoyable, we decided to walk over the bridge again, back to Manhattan.
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If ever there were a perfect day — this was it.

 

 

 

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