Fort Greene and Clinton Hill tour
Two contiguous neighborhoods with rich history, a historic park, varied great architecture, a notable monument, and a stunning sculpture garden.
Fort Greene, home of some classic row houses, incorporates and borders the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), the centerpiece of a burgeoning arts district that includes a dance company, theater spaces, literary spaces, and a new museum.
Fort Greene is where film director Spike Lee, a Brooklynite who has set many of his works in the borough, established his 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks. We'll learn about the "Brooklyn boheme" he helped build, and see what time and gentrification have wrought.
We'll see the (formerly) tallest building in the area, the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, and a flurry of new development that has dwarfed the bank We visit Fort Greene Park, home of the city's definitive memorial to war losses. We may see homages to author Richard Wright and poet Marianne Moore. And we'll stroll what some call the city's single best block.
Not far away, we'll see a magnificent Masonic Temple and French Gothic church, signs of the prosperity and clout of this early 20th century neighborhood.
We continue to Clinton Hill, home of spectacular mansions, several associated with Charles Pratt, once the richest man in Brooklyn, founder of Astral Oil Works. We'll see the block where Miranda of Sex and the City purportedly chose when she moved to "Brooklyn."
We walk around the Pratt Institute, today an art school but once educating engineers and others in science. The charming campus contains a terrific sculpture garden. (The Pratt campus is currently closed to visitors, so we'll see it from the street,)
If time, we can continue to adjacent western Bedford-Stuyvesant, where there are some surprising juxtapositions: new residential development, a housing project, a Hasidic enclave, even a fancy donut shop.
Distance from Midtown Manhattan: 25-35 minutes by subway
Basic tour length: 2.5 hours (see fees)
Starting place: Typically near Atlantic Terminal subway hub
Ending place: Varies, but typically near the Pratt Institute
Highlights: History, architecture, sculpture, new development, parks, arts institutions
Option before tour: Snack/meal in Park Slope or Fort Greene
Option after tour: A meal/drink/snack near Pratt
Potential tour extensions with me: Bedford-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights/Park Slope (Brooklyn 202), Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park/Barclays Center
Why I like leading this tour: Trees, parks, sculpture, row-houses, and mansions--some of the loveliest blocks of the city, illuminating history.