The ebullient Francis Merrone led us on a fascinating walking tour of Brooklyn Heights. He explained various architectural features and shared human interest stories about famous and infamous home owners. This was one of my favorite experiences this week.
A good writer inspires us to experience things we might never have considered, thus enriching our lives immeasurably. I knew practically nothing about the Brooklyn Bridge until I read David McCullough’s chapter about the Roeblings (John, Washington, and Emily) in his book Brave Companions. He told their story — and hence the story of the bridge — in such an engaging manner that I wanted to see this architectural beauty, perhaps more than anything else in New York.
Yesterday I not only saw the bridge, but I also had the opportunity to walk across it. The sky was clear blue, the promenade was crowded with fellow travelers, both on foot and on bicycle, and the view was magnificent. The bridge, with its tall Gothic arches, is truly magnificent. Thank you, Mr. McCullough — without your words, I would never have known about the bridge or been inspired to see it.
I have learned so much in just twenty-four hours! Our program began last night at the Brooklyn Historical Society with an overview of the history of Brooklyn, once the third-largest city in the United States. We then walked down Montague Street to the Promenade with its sweeping panorama of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset. Lady Liberty raised her torch in the far distance. I was so excited to see these landmarks that I called my sister in Charlotte to share this wonderful moment. In addition to the beautiful sights, I’ve been impressed with all the pedestrian activity — people eating at numerous sidewalk cafes, couples walking arm in arm, dogwalkers, bike-riders, and runners. So many people were out and about in the evening, quite a contrast to downtown Atlanta.
On Tuesday we visited the Brooklyn Naval Shipyard in the historic Vinegar Hill neighborhood. Shelley had presented a fascinating overview of the architectural periods represented by the Shipyard buildings still standing, from the late Federal period of the Commandant’s House to the Greek revival of the Naval Hospital to the Romanesque revival of the Paymaster’s Quarters. The pictures below feature the Paymaster’s Quarters.
By contrast, the Perry building, just adjacent to the Paymaster site, has been completely renovated and now houses a new “Green” business. This building is the first to qualify for a L.E.E.D. Gold certification. Notice the wind turbines at the top of the building.
I loved that old and new exist side by side.