Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Brooklyn Bridge Park - Pier 6

My last visit to Brooklyn Bridge Park was some time ago: Mikus was still flying for free and One World Trade still stood unfinished across in Manhattan. We explored DUMBO, saw Jane’s Carousel, stopped in at Jacques Torres Chocolates for hot chocolate, and even spotted a piece by Banksy in a construction site. As far as the Brooklyn Bridge Park goes, we didn’t make it past Pier 1, and I’m not sure if they had started work on 3 yet, much less 5 and 6.

See related post: Mikus and the Big Apple 

Brooklyn Bridge Park is an 85-acre post-industrial waterfront park that stretches 1.3 miles along Brooklyn’s East River edge, affording great views of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge. Spanning from Jay Street (north of the Manhattan Bridge) to Pier 6 & Atlantic Avenue, it includes the reclaimed piers (1-6), Empire Fulton Ferry, John Street, Main Street, Civil war-era Empire Stores and the Tobacco Warehouse. Sports fields, playgrounds, boat launches and greenways today fill piers that at one point were slated to be sold for commercial development.

New works of art are introduced to the park every year, and as part of the Public Art Fund’s 40th Anniversary season Pier 1 has welcomed Anish Kapoor’s Descension. Kapoor is known for sculptures like Cloud Gate in Chicago’s Millennium Park. We had caught a glimpse of Tom Fruin’s Watertower 3 from the interstate our first morning in NYC, but had a much better view of the piece from the park. On display at 334 Furman, the 1,000 salvaged scraps of acrylic are illuminated by the sun during the day and by solar-power at night.

For our last adventure in New York City we set our sights on Pier 6. With a dog park, 3 sand volleyball courts, Fornino’s wood fired oven pizza and the Governors Island Ferry, Pier 6 is a popular destination for families – and did I mention the playgrounds? Five destination playgrounds kept the boys busy exploring for hours, and the hideaway-style play spaces were geared for all ages, so I can imagine coming back again and again and never tiring of it.

Our first stop was Slide Mountain, with 2-story slides and jungle gyms on a dynamic playground with plenty of seating for caretakers. Vilis slept through this one…

Once he woke up we headed for Sandbox Village, the largest sandbox in New York City. Lauris and Mikus loved the little houses on stilts!

The Water Lab is considered the park’s most popular playground, but it was closed for the season. Despite the spring temperatures there was still a chill in the air, and while the kids would have had a ton of fun, I’m sure they would have gotten soaked as it appeared super hands-on. I want to build something like it in our backyard.

Ten swing sets of all sizes in Swing Valley are set in little hidden spaces. It was a race against time to try each and every swing in the park…

The final park is Marsh Garden, an opportunity for children to immerse themselves in the natural environment. But the fun isn’t over, because back behind Fornino’s and the volleyball courts are large grassy areas, perfect for picnics and games of Frisbee. We walked through the flower field to reach the end of the pier where we encountered the grandiose finale of our visit.

The view of the Manhattan skyline and all the ship traffic was breathtaking. The boys caught a glimpse of the Staten Island ferry, and behind Governors Island we could see the Statue of Liberty, torch raised high. Even after snapping dozens of photos we still lingered, the scenery not allowing us to leave.

The chill that accompanied the sunset finally urged us on. All the playing and the boys had worked up an appetite, and so we headed over to Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain, my favorite dining experience of the whole trip. The old-school soda shop has a full menu, but the sundaes, shakes and ice cream can’t be beat. The waffle was the size of the entire plate, buried under ice cream, whip cream, caramel and who-knows-what other toppings. This might just be the friendliest spot in Brooklyn to boot, with treats handed out to the boys for being on their best behavior on the way out the door. Brooklyn Farmacy is worth a trip, and whether you sit at the counter or one of the old-fashioned booths, you’ll love the experience.

The vacation in NYC had come to an end, and only a long car ride stood between us and a return to daily life. We’re so lucky to have family in the city, to show us the best spots and to put us up. What an incredible spring break, and how nice to spend it with the fam! Paldies A² for a memorable trip – your turn, see you in Greenville!

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