Bridging the boroughs walk
From Hunter's Point to Greenpoint, this walk transcends time, space and interborough bias.
Thu Apr 30 2009
Photos: Cinzia Reale-Castello and Virginia Rollison
Start: E, V to 21 Street--Ely Ave; G to Long Island City-Court Sq; 7 to 45th Rd-Court House Sq
End: L at Bedford Ave
Time: 4 hours
Distance: 4.1 miles
1 Outer-borough exploring can feel like a foreign escape—after all, you’re traveling between what at one time were separate cities. See what’s left of the old suburb of Hunter’s Point by walking through its historic district (45th Ave between 21st and 23rd Sts, Long Island City, Queens), a row of neat brick townhouses built in the 1870s.
2 Cut through some of the ’hood’s industrial blocks and visit gallery-store Art-O-Mat L.I.C. (46-46 Vernon Blvd at 47th Ave, licweb.com/artomat; Fri, Sat noon--7pm; Sun noon--5pm). “Many high-end galleries don’t exhibit artists nearby,” says Diane Hendry, a cofounder of the volunteer-run space. “We try to bring together art and community.” Among the locally made works for sale are Sharon Florin’s street photographs (from $60) and Sparc’s wispy handmade jewelry (earrings from $45).
3 With its cloud-piercing church spire and low buildings, Vernon Boulevard looks like an upstate Main Street, but laptop-filled Communitea (47-02 Vernon Blvd at 47th Ave, 718-729-7708) keeps it urbane. Enjoy a coffee (small $1.25) at one of its sunny tables and imagine yourself sitting across from Dan Humphrey—Gossip Girl has shot here in the past.
4 For a sweeping view of midtown, stop in Gantry Plaza State Park (48th Ave at the East River; 718-786-6385, nysparks.state.ny.us/parks), where you can hear both lapping water and the hum of the FDR. The tall hulks (called gantries) that dominate the landscaping were used for loading barges. Starting on weekends in May (and daily after May 23), patrons can slide into a picnic table with a beer at nearby Water Taxi Beach (2-03 Borden Ave; 212-742-1969, watertaxibeach.com).
5 Make your way to the Pulaski Bridge, a grim cement slab that rises over brown rooftops, train tracks and junk yards in its crossing of Newtown Creek. The toxic estuary may be an environmental disaster, but the view above it offers an unusual look at Manhattan, and it’s the midpoint of the New York City Marathon.
6 The sign on the Pulaski Bridge says Brooklyn is like no other place in the world! But it looks pretty much the same as the other side, until you turn onto Greenpoint’s Manhattan Avenue and spot Polish meat markets promising smak. Duck into Jubilatka Bakery (940 Manhattan Ave between Java and Kent Sts, 718-389-4730) for jam cookies sold by the pound and 85 doughnuts.
7 Don’t be put off by the girls wearing gimmicky traditional frocks at Karczma (136 Greenpoint Ave between Franklin St and Manhattan Ave, 718-349-1744)—or by the wagon-wheel decorations. The giant portions are rich, comforting and delicious, and if you need further convincing: The clientele is predominantly Polish. If you can’t read the menu, ask for an English one—or don’t even bother, just order the Plate of Polish Specialties ($10), loaded with pierogi, latkes, hunter’s stew, kielbasa and stuffed cabbage.
8 Continue down Greenpoint Avenue to Franklin Street, and gaze up at the old factory on the northwest corner: Pencils adorn the top wall, leftovers from the Faber Company, which made them here until the 1950s. Toast its memory across the way with a Franziskaner Dunkel Weiss ($6), one of 21 available drafts at Pencil Factory Bar (142 Franklin St at Greenpoint Ave; 718-609-5858, pencilfactorybar.com).
9 Idle among the thoughtfully stocked shelves at Word bookstore (126 Franklin St at Milton St; 718-383-0096, wordbrooklyn.com), which also sells hand-pressed stationery by local artists. Walk up Milton Street, lined with elegant homes boasting front gardens and iron fences. Straight ahead is the towering St. Anthony of Padua (862 Manhattan Ave at Milton St, 718-383-3339), a brick Gothic church built in 1875 and piped white like a gingerbread house.
10 Manhattan Avenue hits Bedford just above McCarren Park—yep, you’re already in Williamsburg. Barhop your way to the L (or jump onto the B61 bus), starting with old-school watering hole Turkey’s Nest Tavern (94 Bedford Ave at North 12th St, 718-384-9774) and ending with a nice Italian bottle at the more refined D.O.C. Wine Bar (83 North 7th St at Wythe Ave, 718-963-1925). As with all interborough transport, surviving this hike earns you a drink (or three).
View Bridging the boroughs walk in a larger map
Like this walk? Try these:
The great saunter
Top of the park walk
Concourse centennial walk
The Williamsburg bridge walk
BACK TO MAIN PAGE Great walks
18 treks for your bipedal pleasure.