The Brooklyn Scenic Route

Feeling energetic? One of my all-time favorites walk I did solo was a breezy, sunny 11-mile jaunt through some of Brooklyn’s most scenic neighborhoods.

I started the day in the Ditmas Park section of Flatbush (part of the Victorian Flatbush sub-section). I made my way up Marlborough Rd and then Buckingham Rd through the Prospect Park South area and its gorgeous, historic mansions… these alone are worth a trip to the area if you’ve never been.

From there, up through the Parade Grounds and into Prospect Park. I walked along the western side of the park up until the northwest side, and then turned down 9th St into Park Slope. I turned east at 5th Ave, then north at 3rd St to pass by the Old Stone House (a reconstructed 1699 Dutch farmhouse that was central to the Battle of Brooklyn).

From there, kept up 3rd St through Gowanus, which I always love to walk through (it’s the charms of the polluted waters). Much like the canal itself, the bridges of Gowanus have a lot of history. I turned north up Hoyt St through Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens, in search of a particular spot on my to-do list. I turned left onto Wyckoff St, to find house #108. Called the “mosaic house”, this home has been intricately decorated with all sorts of objects… beads, tiles, shells, glass, buttons, and blocks. It’s really amazing to take several minutes and just really admire the time and detail put into this mosaic.

After Wyckoff, I turned right onto Court St, the main stretch of the Cobble Hill neighborhood. My father once lived here, and I have fond memories of exploring the area, and seeing movies at Cobble Hill Cinemas, which is still there. Continuing into Downtown Brooklyn-– so-named early on in the borough’s development; it’s actually pretty far north-– I turned right onto Joralemon St, in search of another to-do. 58 Joralemon is, according to Wikipedia, “the world’s only Greek Revival subway ventilator”, and has been designed to look like just another brownstone of Brooklyn Heights.

Continuing up, I landed in Brooklyn Bridge Park, an 85-acre space reclaimed from Brooklyn’s industrial waterfront past. Lots of work was being done to improve the park. Judging by the lines at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, people were happy as is. This park is one of the great legacies of the Bloomberg era.

Past the park, I wandered into DUMBO down Plymouth St., continuing on into Vinegar Hill (almost every neighborhood I walked in today, by the way, is a city landmark district… sorry Gowanus, not there yet). I would wager most New Yorkers have never set foot in this small neighborhood, and would likely not find it very interesting, but I love it. It is mostly known for being home to a huge mansion that was once home to the Commandant’s House of the nearby Navy Yard. And that is where I was headed next.

The Brooklyn Navy Yard dates back to early years of America, and was decommissioned in 1966 amidst the economic troubles of the times. In the past decade, efforts have begun to re-purpose the yards as a new site for economic development. I visited Building 92 (entrance at Flushing Ave & Carlton Ave), a public visitors center and history museum for the yards.

After that, I headed up Carlton Ave toward the Fort Greene neighborhood and famous park that bears its name. After that, I hopped a G train to head home and rest my weary feet.

This whole walk took me about 4 hours. If you had a friend vacationing in NYC and they wanted to see Brooklyn for the first time, and they were willing to sacrifice a day out of Manhattan, I think this walk would give them a fantastic overview. If they wanted more of Brooklyn, it would be very easy to get on a G headed the other way, and head to Williamsburg for dinner.