The 10 best routes for spring strolls in Brooklyn
Eye on Real Estate: How well do you know our borough?
It ain’t all brownstones. But it’s all beautiful.
Brooklyn’s housing stock is blessed with infinite variety, which is of course a phrase I borrowed from Shakespeare.
Some stunning neighborhoods look wildly different from other equally fabulous spots. If Brooklyn is a mosaic, the tiles that comprise it are in highly contrasting colors.
Spring’s the ideal season to get out and see these fascinating contrasts in the built environment.
This time of year, the weather can vary wildly in the course of a single stroll, which adds to the visual intrigue. The scenery changes dramatically when fog suddenly rolls in, as it’s doing while I write this story. When blue skies return, it’s like walking through in a Technicolor movie.
Here are 10 terrific spring strolls you can take to see for yourself.
Highland Park and Cypress Hills
There’s a mini-neighborhood within Cypress Hills that’s full of must-see, stand-alone mansions with lawns. It is called Highland Park.
Its key artery, Highland Boulevard, leads to a lovely recreation area that’s also called Highland Park.
Inside its precincts you’ll find the picturesque Ridgewood Reservoir. The rest of Cypress Hills is pretty great, too.
And you’ll want to drop by Cypress Hills Cemetery to pay your respects to the legendary Brooklyn Dodgers superstar and civil rights advocate Jackie Robinson. His grave is there.
You can become intensely immersed in brownstone architecture by strolling around the Carroll Gardens Historic District.
This 160-plus-building area is populated by dignified, understated brownstones built mostly in the late 1860s through the early 1880s. A 19th-century surveyor named Richard Butts laid out the lots in this area with 33.5-foot-deep front yards. Wow.
Be sure to stroll around the non-landmarked parts of Carroll Gardens, too.
One must-see building is Gothic-style Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church. It was designed by Patrick Charles Keely, aka the Prince of American Catholic Architects.
This bungalow neighborhood looks like a vacation getaway spot.
Many of Gerritsen Beach’s picturesque houses are on or near waterfront of some sort. You see boats everywhere. The neighborhood is located on a peninsula that’s bisected by Shell Bank Canal.
Superstorm Sandy did grievous harm to Gerritsen Beach. Residents have fought back hard.
Some have elevated their houses above the floodplain. Others had to tear down houses that were beyond repair and construct completely new ones.
Montrose Morris is a god. If you love late 19th-century Brooklyn architecture, you’ll know what I mean.
A stroll through Bedford-Stuyvesant will offer you an eyeful of his designs, including an apartment building that looks like a French Renaissance chateau.
You can find these by walking along Nostrand Avenue from one end of the neighborhood to the other. Keep this story open on your phone while you walk, so you can find out which 19th-century architects designed which buildings.
Then swing around onto Marcy Avenue and stroll there, too. There’s an eye-catching Morris design at 232 Hancock St. on the corner of Marcy Avenue.
I’ve got a weakness for shorelines and Key lime pie. Red Hook has both.
There are a number of ways to organize a walk in Red Hook.
One is to start at Pioneer Works, an art space where cool people hang out. Stroll down commercial corridor Van Brunt Street, sample the goods at Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies and stand on Valentino Pier to see the Statue of Liberty and the setting sun.
If you have time, you should also see the remnants of Todd Shipyard, which IKEA turned into a park.
It’s important to enjoy Red Hook in the good times. After Superstorm Sandy, things were bad.
I will always remember the nuns who run Visitation Residence. They worked and worked to put a flooded, damaged Red Hook group home for developmentally disabled adults back in order. For five months, the residents had to live in temporary quarters in another neighborhood.
The Promenade is located inside the Brooklyn Heights Historic District. Landmarking law is supposed to protect it.
That is all I’m going to say about the famous recreation area above the BQE. The Promenade either will or won’t be demolished, depending on what a blue-ribbon panel decides about highway repairs.
So. Walk along the Promenade. Take in the iconic views of the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center. Then stroll around Brooklyn Heights’ streets.
One great route involves walking down Willow Street — where Cher’s house in the film “Moonstruck” and the home where Truman Capote wrote “In Cold Blood” are located — and then Willow Place, which is an entirely different road.
Here’s the shorthand version of how to spend a great day in waterfront Greenpoint: Eat Polish food on Manhattan Avenue. Sit outdoors at a Franklin Street bar. Shop at Word Bookstore, also on Franklin Street. See the sunset at WNYC Transmitter Park.
Last year, I devised a route that will enable you to take care of everything on this to-do list.
Brooklyn has the largest concentration of Victorian wood-frame houses in America. Strolling around Victorian Flatbush to see them is the next best thing to owning one of them.
Over the years, I have devised walks that take you through numerous Victorian Flatbush micro-neighborhoods. One great walk wends around Ditmas Park West.
Silent-film star and movie-industry pioneer Mary Pickford was going to live there at 1320 Ditmas Ave. and work at a nearby studio called Vitagraph.
At the last minute, so the story goes, Pickford decided not to sign a contract with Vitagraph. She didn’t move into the neighborhood.
Bait shops, boats and swans a-swimming.
If you walk down Emmons Avenue in Sheepshead Bay, this is what you’ll see.
The inland streets of Sheepshead Bay are intriguing, too.
Clinton Hill is a mecca for mansions — landmarked 19th-century mansions with distinctive designs.
Walk the full length of Washington Avenue in this neighborhood and you’ll get an eyeful of them. Turn onto Clinton Avenue for more.
Back in the day, Clinton Avenue was called the Gold Coast.
Follow reporter Lore Croghan on Twitter.
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