DUMBO Ain’t Just an Elephant

I was out in DUMBO on Monday promoting The Writers’ Salon, so I thought I’d give you a little tour of the Brooklyn waterfront area. DUMBO, you say? New Yorkers love their acronyms. DUMBO stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. Really. I couldn’t make that up if I tried.

Actually there are two bridges that criss cross this neighborhood, hugging the East River in Brooklyn: the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge. DUMBO has a lot of great shops and restaurants. The artists moved in when the area had fallen into disrepair and helped revitalize it. Now hip young artists (read broke) have had to look elsewhere for cheap studio space.

Even Brooklyn has a Main Street

This is the Manhattan Bridge. Cars ride on the top deck and the trains ride below deck where the inverted V beams are.


Don't they look cold? Go inside, kids!

This bride and groom are trying to get some picturesque shots with the Manhattan skyline in the background. But they seem to be turning blue in the blustery wind.


On the left is the Tobacco Inspection Warehouse built in 1860, and on the right is the Brooklyn Bridge. Neither were here of course when the park had its original claim to fame. In August 1776 General George Washington and his 9,000 troops were overcome by 30,000 British troops. Washington bid a hasty retreat to the fortified Village of Brooklyn and hunkered down on this spit of land with the British on the ridge above waiting for daybreak to capture them. If they had succeeded, they likely would have quashed the rebellion and ended the war. But in the middle of the night a great fog rolled in over the East River enabling the Continental Army (and their equipment!) to steal away in rowboats bit by bit across the river into Manhattan. The British troops must have been really surprised when they awoke to find no one there. Thus ended the Battle of Long Island. The colonists lost that battle and the control of the harbor, but lived to fight another day.


Just on the other side of the warehouse (left) is the site of the first ferry between Brooklyn and Manhattan (the tall buildings on the right) in 1640 when the Dutch entrepreneur Cornelius Dircksen bought the rights to operate the service. He called it Het Veer (A little shout out to Anita who I think would appreciate that.)  Walt Whitman made it famous in his poem, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.” I love this poem. Here is an excerpt:

Others will enter the gates of the ferry and cross from shore to shore,
Others will watch the run of the flood-tide,
Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west, and the heights of Brooklyn to the south and east,
Others will see the islands large and small ;
Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half an hour high,
A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others will see them,
Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring-in of the flood-tide, the falling-back to the sea of the ebb-tide.
What is it then between us?
What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us?
Whatever it is, it avails not – distance avails not, and place avails not,
I too lived, Brooklyn of ample hills was mine,
I too walk’d the streets of Manhattan island, and bathed in the waters around it,
I too felt the curious abrupt questionings stir within me,


Image from Forgotten NY

Speaking of Walt Whitman…

For a time he worked here editing the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper from 1846 – 1848.

The Eagle Warehouse building was rebuilt as seen above in 1893.


A closer look at the Tobacco Inspection Warehouse. This area of the waterfront was an important part of the shipping industry. If you look closely you can see the advertising along the wall. The windows were added afterward.

As you can see from the scaffolding, the building is being renovated. In fact the entire park is under construction. When it reopens there will be sports activities, boating from the piers, a carousel, and grassy areas where summer movies will be shown.

 Coming soon…a tour around my nabe.







  1. What a fascinating post. I love Walt Whitman so much, yet I’d never once read that poem. Now I can add it as one of my favorites.

    Great story, too, about the Battle of Long Island. I’d never heard that one, either.

    Nicely done!


    1. Thanks, Maura!

      Walt Whitman never disappoints. BTW – Crossing Brooklyn Ferry is from his collection called Leaves of Grass, if you want to read the full poem (and many others).

      Have a great day!


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