Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Feild Trip: Park Slope
I had a good friend who lived in Park Slope a couple of years ago. While she lived there we spent some sunny days drinking along 5th Ave. and weathered the 2005 blizzard from her apartment. It’s always amazing to engage in an area through the eyes of a local and it also allows you to play tourist when you return on your own. So, when I picked up my map on my first full day off and decided to take a felid trip, Park Slope was my first pick. What I remembered about the area was it’s unique setting (a great cross between NYC urban and Brooklyn ‘suburban’) and comfortable people. The brownstone lined streets, wide sidewalks, and thrift shops are what make this area so distinctive.
So, my day began with a bike rental at Bike Station on Vanderbilt Ave for my ride through Park Slope. Since I’d been to Brooklyn’s Botanical Gardens several times before and enjoyed every minute of it I wanted to see the rest of Prospect Park. What better way to see a Park then on a bike, right?
While my bike rental went smoothly, my bike riding skills didn’t come back to me as quickly as I expected them to.
After a shaky start I cruised through the streets and along the paths of Prospect Park on my little white bike. I came across playgrounds, baseball diamonds, gardens and memorials. By far the best place I found was a streaming waterfall towards the end of my ride. The rains from the week before were still pulsing down the rocks and cascading into a small pond by the bike path. Prospect Park was more rustic than my favorite Manhattan Parks (Riverside and Central), which made for a great bike ride.
After my afternoon in Park I cruised down to 5th Ave., which is where most of the shops, bars and restaurants in Park Slope are located. Although I was gaining confidence in my rusty bike riding skills, apparently they hadn’t improved much. I nearly plowed a fellow biker down in an intersection as I was scanning the street for cars. Maybe it was my immediate apology, or my obvious inexperience ridding in the area but she didn’t bite my head off. Fellow biker asked me where I was from, and where I was headed. By this time I was starving and asked her for a good spot for lunch. She directed me to a tiny sushi place a block down the Avenue, which is where she was headed for lunch. So, we munched on sushi together and introduced ourselves civilly. She’s an environmental lawyer in Manhattan and took the afternoon off to ride down to Red Hook. It was a really interesting conversation and opened my eyes to even more of the area and the local environment.
Following my raw fish and erratic bicycling experience I headed up to Union Street to check out the Park Slope Co-Op, which I’ve heard all about from a variety of friends. It’s a great concept, bringing local farmers into sell their goods and requiring the community to work 2 hours per month to shop there, which keeps the prices down, and I wanted to see how it worked. Unfortunately I only got to check it out from the front door, since I’m not a member and don’t live in the area but the produce looked amazing through the window. And I have to say; it certainly gave a community feel to the area.My hike back to Grand Army Plaza included a quick stop in Beacon’s Closet (I know it’s out of the way but it’s my favorite thrift shop) and several photos of the Halloween decorated brownstones lining the streets. As the school kids were getting released for the day, I didn’t see the same panic and rush as I see in Manhattan school kids. Parents were walking their kids home or loading them onto buses in an almost….civil way. Ahhhh, what a day outside of the city will do for your soul.