See ‘Selfie Central’ and other DUMBO winter tourist magnets
Tourists are smarter than you think.
They know what’s worth bundling up and braving the cold for in the wintertime.
Look how many of them head for DUMBO — to the intersection of Washington and Water streets first and foremost.
The cobblestoned site is “Selfie Central” when spring breezes blow through the neighborhood —and Arctic blasts, too.
Look closely at the photos you take. The mighty skyscraper is there, though its image is a bit hazy when skies are gray.
The Washington Street buildings that frame the bridge are landmarked.
Originally they belonged to, or were leased by, Robert Gair, an important industrialist of yesteryear.
For a while, the Robert Gair Company was America’s largest paper-box manufacturer.
One of the buildings on this photogenic block, 26-38 Washington St., was the first paper factory Gair constructed in the neighborhood, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation report about the DUMBO Historic District says.
Prior to that, his operations were located in what is now Tribeca.
Gair’s many industrial buildings in DUMBO were called Gairville.
Benjamin Finkensieper designed American Round Arch-style 26-38 Washington St., which was constructed in 1887 and 1888. It’s now a rental-apartment building that belongs to Two Trees Management.
The Walentas family’s company played the leading role in DUMBO’s transformation from a deteriorating industrial area to an upscale residential and office neighborhood.
You can’t sunbathe on the lawn by the Manhattan Bridge without risking hypothermia. Nevertheless, plenty of people are walking around and soaking up the scenery.
The park’s pebble beach has an iconic view any time of year of the Empire Stores complex, Jane’s Carousel, the Brooklyn Bridge, the World Trade Center and the Manhattan skyline.
When it’s particularly cold, a coating of ice forms on the boulders along the park’s shoreline.
Empire Stores was built in 1869 by Nesmith & Sons with additions made in 1885.
During the first decades of the 20th century, John and Charles Arbuckle used the mammoth brick warehouse complex to store unroasted coffee beans.
Though they vacated the place in 1945, coffee beans were still scattered on the wood floors when we toured it with Jack Cayre in 2014.
The previous year, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Board of Directors had awarded his family’s real estate firm, Midtown Equities, a 96-year lease of Empire Stores in partnership with Rockwood Capital and the HK Organization.
Its red-brick exterior walls are two feet thick. When you step into shops such as J. Crew or West Elm, you’ll find pine columns from the 19th century that are hard as rocks.
Interior walls made of gray schist are visible in an atrium that leads to Empire Stores’ rooftop, which is open to the public.
No matter how low the temperature drops, you’ll want to stay on the roof because of its views of the Manhattan skyline, the East River and the park.
Back down on the ground, there’s another architectural icon in Brooklyn Bridge Park — the Tobacco Warehouse.
Following a makeover designed by Marvel Architects, the landmarked building at 45 Water St. is now St. Ann’s Warehouse. Its 700-seat theater is like a building within a building with glass bricks near its roofline.
Marvel preserved the original walls, which were built in the 1860s. Part of the complex was left roofless and turned into a garden.
The building served as both a place to store tobacco and a customs inspection center for tobacco imports, the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation report about the Fulton Ferry Historic District says.
It stands at the edge of the dock at the end of Old Fulton Street, this close to the Brooklyn Bridge.
The shingle-covered building at 1 Water St. was constructed in 1926. Hoses for FDNY fireboats were hung out to dry in its tower, a Brownstoner.com story by Suzanne Spellen says.
Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, the fireboat station’s longtime occupant, recently closed.
That’s because Brooklyn Bridge Park awarded the concession for the building to another ice cream shop, Ample Hills Creamery. It’s expected to open this summer, park officials said in a December announcement.
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