Good old East New York

Another Sunday, another adventure. I need to get better at organizing my schedule so that I can see things up close during the week (as opposed to through fences on the weekend).

Due to the size of East New York, I decided to keep my trip to its northern half; I’ll visit the rest when I pick New Lots. Even with this restriction, I covered more than six miles on foot.

New Lots is outlined in light blue; my subway ride is in dark blue.

I took the most direct route available to East New York: the 3 train (IRT New Lots Line). On the other side of the L and the LIRR tracks from Brownsville, the 3 continues over Livonia Avenue all the way to New Lots Av, the terminus of both. There’s very little separating the two neighborhoods’ approaches to Livonia – dilapidated supermarkets, cars flying by, salsa music and rap coming from various apartments.

The big difference is there are no projects looming over you on the East New York side. The architecture is diverse, a hodgepodge of styles. Some of this stems from the gradual development of the area, some from urban-renewal efforts since the 1960s.

Some buildings have been left naked.

Several vacant lots have been turned into community gardens. Walking around central East New York, you’re bound to come across one within a few blocks. I found six, one of which looked like it was getting ready for Halloween. None was open.

And then there are those spots that, with a little love, could be the community gardens of the future.

Sometimes I’m lucky to find a pair of shoes hanging on a wire. On this trip, I eventually stopped taking pictures of them because I was getting jaded. This one was the finisher.

Fill in the blank. Since my trip to Brownsville five weeks ago, I’ve gotten more ____. Confident? Cocky? Stupid? I walked right through the Cypress Hills Houses, snapping away, something I didn’t consider doing on the previous visit. The Cypress Hills Houses didn’t feel as depressing as most of the Brownsville projects; gloominess, in my mind, is a function of height. (Something could be done about the trash, though.)

Linden Plaza to the east filled that niche. This place made me feel sad. It reminded me of the immigrant housing in the beaten-down suburbs of Paris. There is a supermarket at the base of the building, though, which is a positive point.

Originally the right-of-way connecting Ridgewood Reservoir to water-sources on Long Island, Conduit Avenue now connects Atlantic Avenue with the Belt Parkway. It’s barren and ugly.

I hopped into the subway at Grant Av, taking the A one stop and the C one stop to Shepherd Av. I really dig the old signage.

Northern East New York felt like a completely different world. The first eight(!) persons I passed said hi to me, including a pair of ladies, clearly fresh from church, who stopped their conversation to bid me a good day. One mother and her baby were relaxing on a hammock. (I didn’t count the baby in that statistic.)

The area also has a much less residential complexion. Part of that is because of Atlantic Avenue, which in this section of Brooklyn represents the worst of urban planning. Once the main commercial strip of East New York, it now has six lanes of car traffic, gas stations and parking lots galore, numerous fast-food joints with drive-thrus, and absolutely no shade at this time of day – or maybe at any time of day.

Two items that interested me were the Borden Condensed Milk Company bottling plant and the East New York Savings Bank building. Both are now closed. (The title of this post comes from a book published in honor of the bank’s 75th anniversary in 1943. It was fully absorbed by M&T Bank in 1997.)

I also happened across Salve Regina Catholic Academy, which has a beautiful campus.

“Lunch” was at Mrs. Maxwell’s Party Cakes, which for some reason has a forty-car parking lot. I got the “chocolate bar” for a mere $1.50. Mostly creme, it was delicious; unfortunately, my body wasn’t ready for the sugar rush I got later.

My last scheduled destination was the Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity, which dates from 1935. It was designed and built in the traditional style. I was disappointed to find the gate locked, because I wanted to check out the icons inside.

I decided to walk to the Sutter Av L station, which meant a tour of the East Brooklyn Industrial Park. As you might expect for a Sunday, it was deserted.

On the way home, I did the Junius St-Livonia Av transfer, which is old hat now.

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4 Responses to Good old East New York

  1. Harley N says:

    Great sign in the East New York Industrial Park: “347 Williams Ave”. Has a nice ring to it.

  2. mike touvi says:

    i enjoyed the tour alot brought back great times i had by reds toy store on new lots ave. great job,

  3. We would love to have you visit ReNew Lots a Retail Market Incubator in East NY located on the corner of Van Sinderen and New Lots Ave. We have art galleries, restaurants, and retailers in the market and we need to get the word out. Our shops are made out of recycled truck containers.

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