Tuesday, October 11, 2016

American Dream: A Park Near Your Home

My American Dream: City Life -- with a Park (or Two) Nearby

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

I've wanted to live in New York City since I was a kid. And now I'm doing it! It has its upsides and downsides. Crowds. Constant brand names trying to grab my attention, on buses, taxis, storefronts, signs. I feel like I'm constantly being sold to. Also, lotta concrete.

But there's upsides. Easy access to free and incredibly excellent events, like outdoor opera in Lincoln Center's plaza. The whole mystique of Manhattan, where I work, and Brooklyn where I live.

I have two parks near me. In Sunset Park, which gives its name to my neighborhood, families hang out on nice evenings and the big entertainment is watching the sun set over New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty, and the towers of the financial district of Manhattan.

Interesting that we can see the Statue of Liberty from this park: I've sat there for two hours straight and didn't hear English spoken. I love it! We're still attracting people from all over the world. They remind us to dream big.

There's another park, Bush Terminal Park, which offers views of the same vistas but from water level, rather than from atop a big hill.

This jetty extends straight out into New York Harbor.

The towers of the financial district in the distance.

The gritty Brooklyn harbor side.

Manhattan again.

You can see Jersey City competing for tower attention to the left.

This is Bush Terminal.

Entrance to the park.

Irving Bush, who must have had a thriving business.

View at sunset of the financial district of Manhattan from the hill in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

Same view, different sunset.

Different day, post-sunset, as the lights come on. How about you? Got a great park near you? Please tell us, below!!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

American Dream: A Brownstone in Brooklyn

Sunset Park, Brooklyn Is Full of Brownstones

Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

My new neighborhood of Sunset Park is chock full of brownstones. It's got so many that it's applying for National Historic District status. That's something that Park Slope and Williamsburg already have.

I find the rooflines to be fascinating. Each street has a different look. 

I love the details in the wood trim at the top. The brickwork is great, too. If you like my blog, would you sign up to follow it? Thanks!!!

Here's a close-up of another street's brownstones and the profile of the roofline against the sky.

This is a long view of the same street -- you can see the brownstones just go on and on.

Here's the roofline of another street whose brownstones sport bay windows.

This is Fifth Avenue in Sunset Park, the main commercial street. These brownstones have the elegant trim and brickwork, too.

It's just beautiful.

Here's another set of brownstones, with gently rounded bay windows and trim that echoes the curves.
How about you? Do you like historic architecture? Comment below!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Fun in Coney Island -- But it's a Little Creepy

American Dream: Time at the Seashore

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

My trip to Coney Island was a first -- no a second. I was there with my grandfather in the early 60s, the only time I went out with him. We lived far away and were only visiting Brooklyn briefly. As I recall, it was sunny, and the boardwalk was crowded.

So I went back last May and found it deserted, and creepy.

This is just about the creepiest thing I've ever seen. Gates of hell, anyone? Looks like fun, but then it isn't...

Nothing sadder than a ride no one's using.

I've passed this for years on the Belt Parkway, on my way to see relatives on Long Island, NY.

There's a certain artistry to roller coaster design.

New construction in Coney Island. Maybe there'll be a resurgence of prosperity?

Monday, September 26, 2016

American Dream: Fun, Fun, Fun in Coney Island

Who Doesn't Want Fun?

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

I went from my apartment in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, to Coney Island, a 30-minute ride south on the D train. You begin to sense that Brooklyn is huge, both landwise and population wise.

And where do New Yorkers go for seaside fun? Many choose Coney Island.

In the Coney Island train station, I saw three of New York's finest standing next to the Hulk.

The original Nathan's hotdogs, in business 100 years this year, is reason enough to go to Coney Island.

Another good reason.

The rollercoaster, with the famous parachute drop.

I went in May, still off season.

Nothing like beach football with the Atlantic Highlands of New Jersey in the distance.

All this fun-making equipment is just waiting for the summer crowds.
How about you? Have you been to Coney Island? What did you think? Comment below!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

American Dream: My New Life in Sunset Park, Brooklyn

Lifelong Dream Fulfilled: to live in New York City

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

I've wanted to live in New York City ever since being a teenager in a boring, quiet suburb in New Jersey. I wanted most to live in Brooklyn. Because there, things happened.

So quite a few decades later, I'm living my dream!

By the way, there's four great coffee shops in walking distance of my new apartment. More on that later.

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My room before I moved into it. The flowers on the windowsill were given to me by the former occupant.

The Sunset Park neighborhood in Brooklyn has a park in it named, strangely, Sunset Park. You can see all of Upper New York Harbor: Staten Island, Jersey, Jersey City. And the towers of the Financial District, here painted rosy pink by the setting sun.

This is a shot down Fifth Avenue in Sunset Park. Smack in the middle, in the sky, you can see one upright of the Verizano Narrows Bridge.

There's lots of bakeries in my neighborhood. They make wild, creative cakes for all occasions. This one's for a baby shower. It costs about $175.

For a kid's birthday.

A wedding cake in about 10 parts, with bridges between the parts. There's little bridesmaids and groomsmen on the bridges.

A metallic sunset from the park.

There's hundreds of cool brownstones in my neighborhood. More on that later. How about you? Would you like to live in NYC? How about in Brooklyn? Comment below!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

American Dream: A Brownstone in Bed-Stuy

American Dream: An Interesting Neighborhood to Live in Not Far from Manhattan

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

One last look at Bedford-Stuyvesant, and then I'll bring you to my new Brooklyn neighborhood, Sunset Park.

Believe me, you want one of these brownstones. They will shoot up in value soon, as gentrification spreads out in concentric circles from Manhattan through Brooklyn. As I've said before, it's not all good: many good people will be displaced as rents go up.

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These have been here for generations. People have gotten up in the morning behind these windows, prepared themselves, and gone to work for, say, 100 years now?

Another attractive row.

A terrific mural...

And a close-up of its view of Shirley Chisholm, the first black American woman to be elected to Congress (it took us until 1969).

Some of the lovely doorways to these brownstones.

Very elegant...


I love the stoops. They'll be full of neighbors chatting on hot summer nights. How about you? Are you a stoop sort of neighbor? What do you think of the great doorways? Comment below!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

American Dream: Not to Shovel Snow (expected again this weekend)

American Dream: aren't you glad you didn't dream of owning a car in Brooklyn?

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

The day of the big blizzard, January 23, was mystical/magical in its intensity. When I walked to my favorite Brooklyn cafe at 7 a.m., I saw that I was in the city because there were already footprints in the snow, and there wouldn't have been in my hometown in New Jersey.

I watched out the cafe's huge windows as the wind drove the snow sideways. All. Day.

Sunday, the sun came out. Of course. And I took these pictures in Bed-Stuy (that's the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn).

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Window ledges, and the famous stoops of Brooklyn, all capped with snow.

That's a car, with just a bit of its window showing, buried under fallen snow and plowed snow.

The mounds were higher than the SUVs.

Have fun digging out!

Another mystery car.

The white snow sets off the soft colors of the brownstones.

These brownstones really are brown. And that car really was stuck.
How about you? Looking forward to snow this weekend? Did your car look like this after the blizzard of 2016? Comment below!