Glimpses of the Past in the Present in Brooklyn
When people think of New York, Manhattan often comes to mind first as a destination. However, Brooklyn’s historical sites are well worth a visit.
As Manhattan becomes slicker, tidier, more corporate, and policed, Brooklyn begins to seem like a refuge for the gloriously imperfect, the significant historical, and the radically artistic or political elements in life. Taking the time to visit these three free or inexpensive landmarks, among other important stops in a trip to this borough, will take the visitor back to New York’s roots.
This lush, expansive 478-acre plot of land can be found off 500 and 25th streets. Admission is free, though guided tours are also available. These tours will show where a host of famous locals are buried, including Samuel Morse and Lewis Tiffany. Founded in 1838, this cemetery is not located on church grounds but within a beautiful park, complete with four ponds and flower gardens. As well as seeking respite from the busy city surrounding it, the tourist can also attend complimentary events on the grounds, especially in the summer months.
Open to the public in 1883, this Gothic structure stretches from Manhattan to Brooklyn over the East River. Along with its vehicle lanes, the bridge offers room for pedestrians and cyclists to cross in a comfortable, albeit crowded, fashion! Views are amazing on this one-hour walk (with extra time to snap lots of pictures). The walker can see the Empire State Building, the Woolworth Building, and the Statue of Liberty, as well as spectacular river views.
Even the construction of the bridge is fascinating with its cables and archways. Many poets and songwriters have commemorated the beauty of this structure, from Hart Crane to Frank Sinatra. After the walk, check out some of the delicious restaurants on the Brooklyn side in the artist’s village known as Dumbo.
This famed island is actually a peninsula in south Brooklyn, featuring a beach on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Pre-WW2 Coney Island was a very popular amusement park, featuring rides, games, and even food that Americans had never experienced before. Luna Park, Dreamland, and Steeplechase Park all offered new and exciting adventures. Unfortunately, they burned down or were shut down after the war when low-income housing was needed and gang problems made the area less attractive to tourists.
A new amusement park, Astroland, opened in 1962 after the area had stagnated for over a decade. However, it recently shut down too, leaving only the Wonder Wheel and the 75-year-old Cyclone roller coaster intact, along with some vendors and a small midway. Coney Island remains worth a visit.
It might not be long before the entire history of this place is torn down for a multi-million dollar development. In the meantime, enjoy a stroll along the boardwalk, historic rides, cotton candy and fried oysters, and the sweet neon kitsch that remains of its glory days.
Prospect Park: Best of Brooklyn
Prospect Park is an iconic Brooklyn landmark that has been enjoyed by generations of New Yorkers since its creation in the late 1800s. Located in the heart of Brooklyn, this stunning 585-acre park was designed and constructed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who were also responsible for designing Central Park.
This beloved park offers something for everyone and is home to many natural attractions, such as a 90-acre Long Meadow, a 60-acre lake, and vast gardens. Visitors can enjoy a variety of recreational activities including kayaking on the lake, playing sports on one of the 26 ballfields, or simply picnicking with friends under a shady tree.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Beauty and Nature
Brooklyn is home to numerous iconic landmarks, from the Brooklyn Bridge to Prospect Park. One of the borough’s most beloved destinations is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, a 52-acre oasis in the heart of Brooklyn that has been captivating visitors since 1910.
This urban botanical garden is known for its exquisite and diverse range of plants, flowers, and trees from around the world. From lush cherry blossom groves to vibrant perennial borders, BBG offers something for everyone. The grounds also feature an array of outdoor sculptures and tranquil water features that create a serene atmosphere perfect for reflection and relaxation. Plus, with over 10,000 varieties of plants on display in 21 different gardens, it’s easy to spend an entire day exploring this beloved landmark.
Coney Island: Beach Retreat
Coney Island is one of Brooklyn’s most iconic landmarks. Situated on the southernmost point of Brooklyn, Coney Island has been a summertime destination since the mid-19th century. From its popular amusement park Cyclone roller coaster to its famous boardwalk and beach, Coney Island has long been a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike. For over 150 years, Coney Island has been home to old-fashioned fun for all ages.
From Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs to the Aquarium and Luna Park, visitors can enjoy endless entertainment options available at this beloved landmark. The area also offers plenty of activities such as fishing, kayaking, and boating along with carnival games like skeeball and basketball shooting galleries.
DUMBO: Artsy District
Brooklyn is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in New York City. One of these beloved landmarks is DUMBO, located in the Brooklyn neighborhood of the same name. DUMBO stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, and it’s a great spot for tourists and locals alike to explore. This picturesque destination offers stunning views of both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, as well as a vibrant mix of art galleries, restaurants, parks, and more.
DUMBO has been an important part of Brooklyn culture since its inception in 1883 when developer Remsen Ripley purchased land underneath the bridge from Cornelius Vanderbilt’s estate. Many historic buildings still remain today with cobblestone streets winding around them – offering a glimpse into what life was like when DUMBO was first built.
Conclusion: Exploring Brooklyn
Brooklyn is an amazing and vibrant place to explore. From its beaches and parks to its thriving food scene, there is something for everyone in this borough of New York City. Even if you can’t visit the area in person, you can still experience Brooklyn through its art, music, history, and literature. Exploring Brooklyn can be a great way to spend a few days or even just an afternoon. There is so much to discover within the limits of this culturally-rich borough.