The snow has, finally, almost melted away in Brooklyn, and if I permit myself a slightly dangerous bit of foresight I can already imagine what lies ahead in the warmer months that once again seemed never to come — riding my bike down the stately Ocean Parkway boulevard to Coney Island, passing from one country into the next; carefree afternoons in Red Hook, watching the water move and the Statue of Liberty gaze out from my perch on Valentino Pier; hours-long strolls up and down Court and Clinton and Henry in the neighborhood, seeing what’s new but hoping what’s old is still there.
With that in mind, here are a few photos of places that have stuck with me over the last few months, places that give me some comfort within the daily urban grind.
This is artwork on the mezzanine level of the Grand Army Plaza station in Brooklyn, called Wings for the IRT: The Irresistible Romance of Travel. The IRT — Interborough Rapid Transit — was the first underground subway in New York, opening in 1904. The Grand Army Plaza station opened on August 23, 1920. This artwork was created in 1995, although it pays homage to a much earlier time. According to Wikipedia, “The bronze and terra cotta pieces of art are modeled on the original Interborough Rapid Transit Company logo, and references the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch in the plaza above with its Winged Victories.”
I took this photo recently outside one of the eldest cafes in the city, Veniero’s, on East 11th Street near 1st Avenue. I remember first going there not long after I moved to New York; it was a wondrous place where I sat and drank espresso and read for hours. Fortunately it’s still going in the little pocket that’s left of the old Italian East Village.
Liquor stores are some of the last businesses with great neon signs. This one, Mitchell’s, has to be one of the best among its brethren; it’s located on West 86th St. between Broadway and Amsterdam.
These are two shots of Vinegar Hill, the small neighborhood (four blocks, at most) sandwiched between DUMBO and the Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Navy Yard. Commodore Matthew Perry used to live here. The Federal style and Greek revival architecture and cobblestone streets are gems, though rare, because almost all of the neighborhood was decimated by construction of the BQE and then the Farragut Houses in the 1940s and ’50s. This beautiful brownstone was on the corner of Hudson Ave. and John St.; its occupants look out on the ConEdison substation across the street.
Lastly, these are two photos I took from a fall trip to Baltimore. The first is the boarded-up Mayfair Theater on North Howard Avenue, built in 1880 and now in complete disrepair. It closed in the 1980s and the roof collapsed in 1998. But it’s still standing. The second is the also-shuttered White Coffee Pot, a greasy spoon whose signage I found charming.