A few things you probably didn’t know about Brooklyn: its longest street is Bedford Ave. On it, near the intersection of Empire Blvd. in Crown Heights, the Dodgers’ old Ebbets Field is now a block of high-rises. Not far away, the team’s owner Charles Ebbets is turning in his grave in Green-Wood Cemetery, the final resting place of the New York Times’ founder, the two Tiffanys (Charles Lewis and Louis Comfort) and the man who played the Wizard in the Oz movie.
Walking Brooklyn, the new guidebook by licensed NYC tour guide Adrienne Onofri, is filled with these you-don’t-say moments. In it, she distills the borough’s history, neighborhoods, and culture into 30 illuminating walks, some in areas so wild — like this salt marsh in Marine Park, a magnet for egrets — you can’t believe they’re in Brooklyn.
To research the book, Onofri spent six months scouring Brooklyn on foot (after knee surgery no less). Each five-mile and under stroll she maps out is crammed with facts and points of interest, like Bed-Stuy for instance: “Many people hear that name and think, ‘Yikes, I’d never go there.’ But Stuyvesant Heights is just gorgeous. Some of those streets are just like Brooklyn Heights or the Slope,” says Onofri.
Ultimately, she compiled so many sights she had to leave out a few, like the Flatlands Reformed Church on Kings Highway where Brooklyn’s early settlers Wyckoff, Lott, and Ditmars are buried, and the house of early 20th century mayor William Jay Gaynor, who walked from Park Slope to City Hall every day.
But the biggest problem was keeping her guidebook up to date. “Within the week that I sent in the manuscript, they announced that Astroland had been sold. So what are people going to be looking at when they take their Coney Island walk in a few years?”
Walking Brooklyn (Wilderness Press, $18), arrives in bookstores this week. It’s also available now at Amazon.
Photo by Adrienne Onofri. Cover courtesy Wilderness Press.
Today’s post brought to you by Nicole.