Road Trip: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Brooklyn is but one of the five boroughs of New York City, but its 2.5 million population is larger than all of Allegheny County. Like old Allegheny City, which joined Pittsburgh in 1907, Brooklyn was an independent city with a rich history of its own that became part of New York City in 1898.
It is a borough filled with the energy of diverse groups, with many neighborhoods offering authentic ethnic cuisines. While Brooklyn is one of the most densely populated areas in the United States, there are far more private homes than apartment buildings.
The Heart of Brooklyn area is a traditional example of using urban space on a grand scale, and includes the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Prospect Park, which was designed by the same landscape architect who designed Manhattan's Central Park.
Brooklyn is undergoing a renaissance, with a major new park, a sports and entertainment center and museums — not to mention fertile areas for business development. Many arts groups have found Brooklyn a congenial home, partly because real estate is much more reasonable than in Manhattan.
Brooklyn has contributed more than its fair share of famous people, including writers Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, Norman Mailer and Mickey Spillane, actors and filmmakers Woody Allen, Jackie Gleason, Lauren Bacall and Spike Lee; composers George Gershwin and Aaron Copland, singers Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond and Barry Manilow, comedian Jerry Seinfeld and basketball great Michael Jordan.
Yes, when people think of New York City, they're mostly thinking of Manhattan. A visit to Brooklyn will change that. Brooklyn has its own powerful allure, and no single trip can explore all of it.
Mark Kanny is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or email@example.com.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Offering an iconic view of lower Manhattan across the East River, Brooklyn Bridge Park first opened in 2010 on a site with historic resonance to the Revolutionary War.
The park's 85 acres include play areas for children, sports fields, a picnic peninsula for fresh-cooked meals and fishing and boating.
Jane's Carousel in the Fulton Ferry part of the park is a restored 1922 carousel with 48 horses and three chariots. It was the first carousel to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Details: 718-488-0099 or www.brooklynbridgepark.org.
Building 92, Brooklyn Navy Yard
The newest Brooklyn museum is Building 92 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The yard was established in 1801 as one of the nation's first five shipyards and during World War II employed 70,000 people. It was decommissioned in 1966.
After decades of neglect, the yard has acquired new life as an industrial park that is home to many small businesses. The museum offers tours of yard facilities which have been preserved. The second floor is the resource center, which houses photographs and artifacts.
Details: 718-907-5992 or www.bldg92.org
Housed in a 560,000-square-foot, Beaux-Arts building, the Brooklyn Museum is one of the largest in the country. With roots back to the early 19th century, most of the museum's 1.5 million pieces were acquired in the early 20th century.
Although only a fraction of its total holdings are on view at any time, its commitment to Western and non-Western art is reflected in exhibitions of American, European, African, Asian, Islamic and Ancient Egyptian culture.
The museum offers daily guided tours and audio tours.
Details: 917-638-5000 or www.brooklynmuseum.org
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Founded in 1910, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden occupies 52 acres, with many specialty gardens and pavilions that are visited by 900,000 people annually.
The Japanese Hill and Pond Garden was constructed in 1915, renovated in 2000, and is the oldest of its kind in an American museum.
The Cranford Rose Garden is home to 1,400 kinds of roses, while the Shakespeare Garden has more than 80 plants mentioned in the Bard's plays. It was a gift from Henry Folger, who founded the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington.
Other gardens are designed for children and arranged by plant families to show their evolution. There are also three-climate controlled pavilions for tropical, warm weather and desert plants.
Details: 718-623-7200 or www.bbg.org
Brooklyn Academy of Music
A multiarts center, the Brooklyn Academy of Music dates to the mid-19th century and includes an opera house, a smaller theater, movie theater and rehearsal space.
The academy became an important center for innovative performance arts — music, dance and theater — during the tenure of executive director Harvey Lichtenstein (1967-99).
Upcoming productions include operas by New York City Opera, French baroque opera conducted by William Christie, the Royal Ballet of Cambodia and DanceAfrica, jazz concerts, visual arts and talks.
Details: 718-636-4100 or www.bam.org
A multipurpose sports and entertainment arena, the Barclays Center opened in September with a concert by Jay-Z and is home to the Brooklyn Nets NBA team.
The indoor arena is the first built in New York City since 1969 and cost $1 billion. It was designed for basketball, seats more than 17,000 and offers a close connection to the action.
Details: 917-618-6700 or www.barclayscenter.org