Authored By:

Jonathan F.

I tried to think of some kind of witty title for this entry.... but really, doesn't DUMBO just speak for itself? I had never heard of DUMBO before coming to New York, and couldn't believe it was a real place. But alas, DUMBO is real, and it is a place that I came to spend countless hours of my life.

DUMBO is an neighbourhood of Brooklyn that encompasses the area around the Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, and Vinegar Hill. The name is an acronym for "Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Observatory." It has turned into a trendy spot, and one of the most expensive places in New York City.

Writting a blog post on DUMBO is kind of daunting, because there's just so much. I've tried to include as many photos as I could, but let me tell you right now: they don't do this place justice. No photo that I take can replicate the views of Manhattan that you can get from walking down Old Fulton Street and onto Pier 1. No photo can describe how surreal it is to be walking under the Manhattan Bridge on a regular basis. I remember that I had some friends visit me from my Ottawa towards the end of my stay. By this point, I was becoming used to the neighbourhood (As used to it as you can get, I suppose), and began to walk underneath the bridge on Fulton Street, only to be stopped by my guests. "You may be used to this sight," they exclaimed, "but we're not!" 

I guess the best thing I can do is talk about some of my favourite spots in DUMBO. Why not start with my office? I worked at the We Work office situated 81 Prospect Street, and it was something special. I had never heard of We Work before I came to New York and.... yeah, if you can work at one of these at any point in your life, do it. We Work is a company that has reimagined what the office can be like, and it caters towards millenials. The dress code is strictly casual (I wore a tie on my first day and felt absurdly out of place), the atmosphere is very laid back, and the look and feel are unique. The building has a a retro yet modern feel that is hard to describe. Check the photo gallery, I tried taking as many pictures as I could. From the ping-pong table on the seventh floor, to the barista and beer on tap on every floor (Seriously, that's a thing), to the support staff, I cannot reccomend this place enough. We Work DUMBO is just incredible.

Right across the street was one of my favourite lunch spots: Randolph Beer. This is a cool microbrewery with a great menu. I highly recommend the steak sandwich.

When coming to New York, there's one food item you want more than anything: pizza. Truth be told, New York pizza is kind of a mixed bag. Are there good places? Certainly, but there are also plenty of bad ones. Throw a rock and you'll hit a pizza joint while you're in the city. It's a lucrative market, and everyone wants a slice of the pie (Pun absolutely intended). That said, I'm not here to badmouth any pizza joints that I visited. I'm here to talk about the single best place that I went to while in New York. Surprise, surprise: it's in DUMBO. The story of Juliana's Pizza on Old Fulton Street is one of my pure madness, far beyond what I can share here. Though seriously, Google it: There's some great comedy there. The long and short of it is that it is owned by the original owners of Grimaldi's Pizza, one of the most iconic pizza places in New York. This pizza was simply to die for. Juliana's has an old coal fired oven, an oven so intense that they close for an hour in the afternoon to stoke the fire and make sure it's ready for the evening rush. Thin, crisp crust, fresh ingredients, a mild smokey flavour from the oven.... what can I say? Perfection.

The nice thing about my next favourite spot is that it's a short walk from Juliana's. Ample Hill's Creamery has a few locations in New York, but the DUMBO location, situated in a building that appears to be an old lighthouse, is sublime. Did you know that Rice Krispie Square ice cream was a thing? No? Well neither did I until I went here.

From here, I can't stress enough: explore Brooklyn Bridge Park. It's right next to Ample Hills, and the scenerey is incredible. A lot of the photos I have from this area are from a rainy day, but I think that compliments the photos: the mist kind of provides an interesting atmosphere. There is a permanent outdoor carousel in this area known as Jane's Carousel, restaurants such as Sugarcane and Cecconi's (Where I also went, and is also a great place), and a surprising amount of green space to enjoy. I think this is my favourite part of New York City. It's energetic and yet quiet at the same time. It is modern, but carries a lot of the old New York City feel and charm. It's kind of emblematic, because that describes DUMBO quite effectively. DUMBO has managed to maintain an old feel, while still appearing modern. It is not just streets of lifeless condos, it is a vibrant and exciting area, with more restaurants than I can list. The cobblestone streets in some parts of the neighbourhoods are hundreds of years old, and yet are an excepted part of the infrastructure of the area, with cars travelling over them every day.

The Archway under the Manhattan Bridge is a perfect example of old and new. It bears the look and feel of architecture from the turn of the 20th century, and yet has been outfitted with picnic tables and a sound system for hosting events. While I was there, I saw an enormous television screen set up in the archway, and people gathering around this screen to walk the Women's World Cup. Quite the venue to watch a soccer game in! This is an example of how DUMBO can incorporate 21st century ideas while still maintaining the look and romanticism of "old" New York. This combines for a unique neighbourhood, one that I was thrilled to work in for six weeks of my life.