The rattle of subway trains passing overhead is a constant reminder that Empire Fulton Ferry is unusual for a state park. While the industrial sites to its East and West and incessant subway noise seal its identity as an urban park, the swathe of trees and shore of the Hudson River separate it from its surroundings, giving it the feel of a fishbowl at the foot of the city. On a warm breezy day in early September, no one picnicked or tossed Frisbees at the park. Instead, they sat and watched the real gem the park has to offer: an unobstructed view of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline.
Tucked under the Manhattan Bridge in a sleepy corner of Dumbo, Empire Fulton Ferry is a 20-minute walk from the subway. On that same June day, the park’s shoreline was packed with families, couples taking engagement photos and friends basking in the sun. Kids swarmed the pirate ship-themed playground and police officers stopped to chat with a few locals. The grassy knoll at the park’s center was all but abandoned, save for a few cyclists who stopped to walk their bikes through the park.
One of Empire Fulton’s biggest assets is its close-knit relationship with Dumbo. Though the nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park hosts events such as stargazing, boating and chess, the Empire Fulton area is packed with warehouses-turned-artist-havens such as Dumbo Art Center, Galapagos Art Space, and Etsy Labs, all of which have community event line-ups for summer 2011. The Empire Stores Warehouse and Tobacco Warehouse have also been recognized nationally as historic landmarks, dating back to Brooklyn’s seaport days.
A walk under the Manhattan Bridge and then back to the Brooklyn Bridge yielded a few interesting restaurants, shops and yarn-bombing, making it fair game for an aimless-wandering destination in the city. Mark the calendar for the Brooklyn Indie Music Festival, Sep 17 – Sep 18, featuring some of the best local talent you never knew you always wanted on your ipod.
How to get there: Take the F train to York Street and take a right on Pearl Street. Turn left on Plymouth Street; you will find the park on your right. Better yet, walk or bike over the Brooklyn Bridge and then walk north on Washington Street.