This is my favorite part of the ride. I’m taking the Q train home from the city. We start a slow incline out of the tunnel from Canal Street to cross the Manhattan Bridge to the Brooklyn side. The tracks carry us over Chinatown. From here, without the putrid smells and incessant horn honking, it looks inviting. The red signs with gold Chinese lettering decorate every storefront. Vendors spill out onto the narrow, winding streets hawking their cheap kitsch for tourists. Fresh laundry blows on a line leading from an open window.
Then the East River is below and the downtown city skyscrapers come into view. The sun is setting on the other side of the Hudson River casting a cotton candy glow around the skyline. I always try to spot the Trinity Church spire. It’s not easy to find. Long overtaken by steel and glass around it, it was once the tallest building in New York. If I look down, I can see the Fulton Fish Market. After almost 200 years of operation from the Lower East Side, the fish mongers have moved to a new facility in the Bronx. The trains usually slow to a crawl about halfway over the bridge, and today is no exception. A biker on the path next to the train is keeping pace.
It gives me time to check out the venerable Brooklyn Bridge just to the south. The lights trimming the tension wires are twinkling in the dusk. Its stone-and-mortar construction makes it unique among all the bridges connecting to Manhattan, but I think New Yorkers are so fond of it because it was first.
Brooklyn comes into view with comparatively low buildings, just a little higher than the train windows. As we begin the descent into the tunnel, I can see Fulton’s Landing, a now grassy spot where General George Washington, outmanned and outgunned by the British pressing down from the hill above in the Battle of Brooklyn, stole away in the middle of the night avoiding capture and kept the Americans’ hopes for independence alive. There is a small playground painted in primary colors next to the landing area and a boy is being pushed on a swing by his mother.
New construction rises next to old graffitied buildings. A clock tower is on top of one of the many loft buildings that are being converted from warehouses and factories as people rediscover the neighborhood of DUMBO. It’s 4:30. We slide into the tunnel and I’m almost home.