brooklyn

To Brooklyn

Gerry wanted to do a print in Brooklyn. He and Lotta spent a couple of days walking around the area. Visiting Dumbo, Williamsburg and Greenpoint. In the end Gerry fell for a couple of shots he'd taken on the corner of John Street and Pearl Street in Dumbo, which offers a great view of the Manhattan Bridge and then the Brooklyn Bridge behind it.

Gerry and Lotta waited on the street and saw plenty of interesting Brooklyn characters walk past. Lotta also stepped into the print, because none of the other people walked past the camera “on the right side”. The trains were rattling over the bridge and the location felt like the perfect spot to capture some neighbourhood's distinct charm.

The bridge

The Manhattan Bridge is an impressive sooty suspension bridge that crosses the East River and connects lower Manhattan with Brooklyn. It was the third bridge to be built over the river, following the Brooklyn and Williamsburg bridges and it was opened to traffic on December 31 in 1909.

The bridge was designed by Leon Moisseiff, who doesn't necessarily have a great track record when it comes to bridge building. He also designed the Tacoma Narrows Bridge that collapsed in 1940, only a couple of months after it had opened. At least the Manhattan bridge has stood the test of time (and survived lots and lots of traffic).

The bridge is massive. It has four vehicle lanes on the upper level and the lower level has three lanes, four subway tracks, a walkway and a bikeway. The upper level was originally used for streetcars.

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Brooklyn

Brooklyn is the most dense of all New York's boroughs. Around 2,5 million people has made it their home. If Brooklyn was an independent city it would rank as the fourth most populous city in the U.S., behind the remaining parts of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Brooklyn was in fact an independent city until January 1 1989 when it became part of the “City of New York”. Since then it's still continued to maintain a distinct character. Many of the neighbourhoods are ethnic enclaves, where different cultures dominate. The cultures themselves have changed over the years. Currently Brooklyn's most well known culture tends to ride around on fixie bikes wearing skinny jeans and over-sized glasses.

Even with its hipsters Brooklyn remains an inclusive area with its motto being “eendraght meckt maght” (in unity there is strength in old Dutch). The Dutch were the first Europeans on Long Island, but not of course the first people. The Native American Lenape were already living there.

Dutch settlements were established in the 1600s and land was purchased from the Lenape, which became present-day Brooklyn Navy Yard and Bushwick. A Dutch village called Breuckelen (named after a city with the same name in Utrecht) became the first city in the New York State. At that time it was part of New Netherland.

In 1664 the British seized New Netherland and Breuckelen. Over time the name changed to Brockland, Brocklin, Brookline, Brookland and eventually Brooklyn.

Dumbo

Dumbo was originally known as Fulton Landing, after the ferry stop that connected it to Manhattan before any of the bridges were built. Back in the day (1890s) it was mainly a manufacturing district with plenty of warehouses and factories making exciting things like machinery, paper boxes and soap pads. The cardboard box was invented in the area, on Washington Street, in a building which is now the home of Etsy.

Over time the area became residential with artists taking advantage of large and inexpensive loft apartments. The acronym Dumbo was invented in 1978 when some of the area's creative residents thought it was unattractive enough to keep the developers away. It didn't and Dumbo slowly became more and more expensive. Today it's a model for waterfront developments around the world.

Our illustration

We used six photos to create the final illustration. Gerry wanted the bridge to be the centre piece of this print, but the characters play a big part in it too, as does the Manhattan skyline.