Thursday, February 19, 2009

Brooklyn at 35,000 feet

Not the photo, of course--that's just a stock favorite of mine that I took walking across 4th Avenue on Pacific Street.

I was out of town for the past couple of days, and on my flight home I found myself bored of my book and picked up the in-flight magazine. Lo and behold, my adopted home borough stared back at me from the glossy pages. And while these publications get a bad rap, there were actually some decent little articles tucked away between the ads for steakhouses and the lists of satellite radio stations available. Kudos to the US Airways magazine for putting together a good profile on Brooklyn (even though their lead photo is of the Manhattan bridge looking towards Manhattan!).

Some things I learned that I did not know:

-The borough of Kings is named for King Charles II of England (the naming took place when the Brits reorganized the colony of New York into twelve counties in the 1660s).

-There are 144 seats on the Wonder Wheel.

-Jackie Robinson is buried at Cypress Hills Cemetery.

-Three borough eateries boast a Michelin star (Saul, Dressler, and Peter Luger).

-Dine In Brooklyn Week is coming up (though the dates seem a little fuzzy, it takes place in the last week of March)

Some things I found interesting or amusing:

-The six Brooklyn neighborhoods they recommend as destinations are:
1. Park Slope and Fort Greene (can you really elide those two?)
2. Williamsburg (somewhere a hipster is crying over yet another blow to Billyburg's hipness).
3. Bensonhurst and Dyker Heights (same gripe as #1, though they did have the interesting tidbit that in the pre-city days, Bensonhurst was farmland while Dyker Heights remained wooded because it was too hilly to till).
4. Dumbo (not spelled DUMBO, though they noted the acronym).
5. Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, and Carroll Gardens (so when you said 6 neighborhoods, you meant 10? Yes? I see.)
6. Bedford-Stuyvesant (The real measure of neighborhood change is that this didn't even really surprise me).

-Their four "famous residents" cited were, in this order, Jackie Robinson, Chris Rock, Carl Sagan, and Shirley Chisholm. It got me thinking: who belongs on Mt. Brookmore? Those four? Another four? Some of them and some others? I'd argue that the faces on the rock (carved into the bluff that Brooklyn Heights sits on, perhaps?) would have to be Brooklyn-born, and I'm stuck at five: Chisholm, Sagan, Gershwin, Arthur Miller, and Christopher Wallace.

At any rate, seeing the borough lauded was a nice prelude to coming home to my new home.


  1. Ruth Bader Ginsberg, George and Ira Gershwin, Woody Allen and Mel Brooks, Sandy Koufax, Vince Lombardi, Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, Al Capone, Bugsy Seigel, Spike Lee, Neil Simon - there are so many! I think you'd have to include Jackie Robinson, but I might go with Woody Allen, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and Joseph Heller. I'm sure there are a few others who I'm forgetting, but that's who I might go with right now.

  2. Does Jackie really count? He was born in Georgia, though he certainly was Brooklyn's most famous resident for a long time. Aaron Copeland was another big omission on my original list (though I was trying to get as close to four as I could), as were the comic legends that preceded Eddie Murphy--Zero Mostel, Phil Silvers, and Jackie Gleason (not to mention the heir to his throne, Chris Rock). If residency alone gets you in, we also have to throw in Woodie Guthrie, Truman Capote, and Walt Whitman, among others.

    Picking four is of course a totally arbitrary exercise--how exactly to you compare the careers of a Supreme Court Justice and a comedian? I suppose that's why this is the stuff airline mags are made of.