DUMBO/Fulton Ferry, and Brooklyn Heights tour
Waterfront neighborhoods near the Brooklyn Bridge, plus historic Brooklyn Heights, offer architecture, food, views, and art, with relatively light walking.
This is also part of the Brooklyn 101 and Brooklyn 202 tours but segments can be mixed and matched with other routes.
DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is a not-so-accurate acronym for a small neighborhood that nudges toward the Brooklyn Bridge and offers time-capsule industrial architecture (most of it renovated to a shine), a new park, new shopping, and street art.
The views are spectacular, including Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge. No wonder so many people stage their wedding photos here. No wonder so many films and TV shows are shot here. (No wonder some of the locals get annoyed.)
Long moribund as manufacturing declined, DUMBO revived largely because of the foresight and wiles of developer David Walentas. Revamped buildings now house residential, retail, and office tenants.
DUMBO has emerged as the home of many tech- and digital-oriented firms and has attracted enormous amounts of new investment. Even as the Brooklyn Flea arrives (on Sundays April-November), our walk will show corners that have not yet been buffed.
Fulton Ferry, sandwiched between DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights, also offers great views in Brooklyn Bridge Park, plus a range of historic buildings, and some terrific places to snack and eat. It's also the gateway to the NYC Ferry on the East River.
Vinegar Hill, to the east of DUMBO near the Brooklyn Navy Yard, is a marvel: quiet, almost desolate in places, but with a working factory, a looming power plant, an isolated Buddhist temple, and an early 19th-century mansion. Nearby, one of Brooklyn's poorest communities is concentrated in a housing project, the legacy of unwise planning.
Brooklyn Heights is up the hill, the city's first historic district and still a vital residential neighborhood, with row houses, churches, former hotels, and a variety of apartment buildings. (For this neighborhood, also see photos from the Brooklyn 101 tour.)
At the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, we find glorious views of the Manhattan skyline, New York Harbor, and the Brooklyn Bridge.
This tour can move more slowly than Brooklyn 101, and can be accomplished in up to 2.5 hours, while Brooklyn 101 takes at least 3 hours. So this tour may be best for those seeking a "lighter" walk.
If you're interested in Brooklyn Heights, but not DUMBO, we could pair it with part of the Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens tour.
Distance from Midtown Manhattan: 20-25 minutes by subway
Cost: see fees here
Basic tour length: 2.5 hours (see fees)
Starting place: Either Fulton Ferry or F train/York Street
Ending place: In DUMBO, or in Brooklyn Heights/Downtown Brooklyn; or even into Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens
Highlights: History, architecture, waterfront views, parks, arts
Before/after tour: Food options include the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, Grimaldi's Pizza and Juliana's Pizza, and Jacques Torres Chocolate. Shake Shack. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge. NYC Ferry. The Brooklyn Flea is in DUMBO April-November.
Potential tour extensions with me: Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens on foot; Williamsburg, Greenpoint via NYC Ferry
Why I like leading this tour: DUMBO is probably the most visited neighborhood in Brooklyn, but walking with me adds new insights. Brooklyn Heights has more layers, and even more history.
Note to slower walkers: Of all my tours, this can offer the least amount of walking.