It’s been the backdrop for innumerable iconic movies such as Godzilla, Annie Hall, Sophie’s Choice and Goodfellas; TV series dating back to the 70s including Welcome Back Kotter, or more recently Two Broke Girls, Everybody Hates Chris and Boardwalk Empire; would challenge any community in the world on its multicultural mix; and is renowned for having one of the English language’s most idiosyncratic accents. Brooklyn, the most populous of New York’s five boroughs, is the hot place to be in the 21st Century teen decade, no longer the repository of poor newly-arrived migrants but a sought-after neighbourhood in a rapidly-gentrifying locale.
The Brooklyn Bridge walk was one of the most interesting of the 10 attractions we elected from the many available on our New York Explorer discount card. Not only did if offer a fascinating insight into the famous Bridge and its troubled gestation but an introduction to the wonderful DUMBO – Down Under the Manhatten Bridge Overpass – precinct on the Brooklyn side. The almost-500-metre bridge connecting the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn across the East River was the first-ever steel-wire suspension bridge. The pioneering bridge opened in 1883 after 14 troubled years of construction which saw its creator, German engineer John Roebling, die of a tetanus infection from a construction-related injury, and his son Washington Roebling, who took over the project, incapacitated with decompression sickness. Many workers were affected by the then-unknown “bends” and labelled it “caisson disease” because the culprit seemed to be working underwater on the caissons, upside-down boxes which had to been sunk to the bedrock below to support the two towers.
Long a popular haunt for artists because of its intrinsic atmosphere, abundance of cheap loft-style accommodation and easy proximity to Manhattan the old, run-down industrial area of DUMBO is now Brooklyn’s most expensive neighbourhood. The cool vibe that the creative community contrived attracted the urban trendies with developers not far behind converting Brooklyn’s old industrial buildings into high-end tech start-up spaces, performance precincts and luxury residential apartments. You could forgive the creative community for feeling a little aggrieved about being priced out of their space.