Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Finding the View at the Bush Terminal Park

So there was that silly silly snow on the first day of Spring, but the weekend actually warmed up some -- not quite balmy, but nicer than Friday -- and had lovely sunshine and blue skies and since I'm getting into one of those times of the year when I spend way too many hours at my desk, I wanted to get outside for a while. Saturday we went up to CT to say hi to TQ's folks, so Sunday was the day for some activity. Earlier in the week I'd been hoping for a paddle, but it was again a bit windy, so I decided to stick with a good walk. TQ works for the Parks Department and gets as much fresh air as a body could want, so he doesn't get quite as antsy about getting out on weekends as me (especially when it's budget season at my office); he actually decided that what he wanted to do was get a batch of beer started (YAY - he makes very good beer and it's been a while since the last batch).

He did an inventory of his brewing supplies on Saturday night, after we got back from CT, and discovered that a trip to a homebrew store was in order. He checked online and found that
Brooklyn Homebrew carried everything he needed, and then I looked at where they were and discovered that they were a little less than two miles from the new Bush Terminal Park in the Sunset Park area of Brooklyn. That struck me as a good distance to an interesting destination; it just opened last October, I seemed to recall a couple of friends who'd been there being quite favorably impressed, and it's someplace different -- I have a certain set of places I tend to ALWAYS go when I feel like going for a long walk (Red Hook, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Sheepshead Bay, etc.) and I like them all but every now, but it's a big borough and I enjoy seeing parts of it I haven't seen before!

I told TQ I would ride over with him and then if he wanted to go find the park with me, he could, or if he wanted to he could head on home and get going with his brewing and I would get myself back in time for dinner. I'd never walked in the area I was going but I knew I could get to the F train from there, if I didn't find something better first (I don't happen to own a phone that tells me how to get places but in this case I wasn't too far afield). 

Brooklyn Homebrew was very nice. We'd been somewhere else in Brooklyn in the past to get supplies, but this place was much bigger, with a better selection. TQ got the yeast that he needed, a few other odds and ends, and some barleywine pointers (not a type he's tried before but he found he had kit for that when he reviewed what he had, so that's what he was going to make) from the guy at the shop.

I got a cheese kit. This'll be fun!

We'd gotten a bit of a late start and weren't done at the store until 3, so TQ decided to run along home and start brewing, while I set out for Bush Terminal Park. Started out walking along 3rd avenue for a while -- impressive mural here -- then went down to 2nd avenue. This was getting into a pretty industrial area, lots of warehouses, and I wasn't sure that I would be able to get through if I went closer to the water, so I stayed on 2nd. See the Statue of Liberty here? No, really, she's out there!

 Interesting, seeing all the train tracks running around the area - this one had run from the docks into a loading dock in one of the warehouses, but at some point the warehouse stopped sending and receiving goods that way and the sidewalk was laid right over top of them. These were all over the place, it must have been something to see when they were all in use.

 Here's one of the older-looking buildings I passed. Turned out to be a Superfund site - this was Empire Electric and I don't know what they were using here but it must have been bad (PCB's like General Electric, perhaps?). Interesting old building though. 
I walked and I walked and I walked and I walked and I walked and at a certain point I started to suspect that I'd missed the park. I'd been walking along 2nd avenue expecting that I would be able to see it from there; I guess I was assuming that the construction of this park would've followed the Hudson River Park pattern, where most of the old waterfront structures got torn down and the area just overlaid with shiny new stuff that looks distinctly parkish from a ways inland. Thinking that, I hadn't really noted what street I would need to turn down to get to the park, but by the time I got to 60th street I was thinking "I should've been there by now" and when I got to the Belt Parkway, I knew I'd missed it. I walked under the parkway to Owls Head Park - thought about walking around in there for a bit but decided to just head back, going down to the ferry dock at the Brooklyn Army Terminal to at least get a couple of waterfront pictures.

I was glad I'd come this far, though, because I think the facility shown below (tucked in just north of the Belt Parkway) is the Brooklyn end of the last marine railway in New York Harbor. Click here for an interesting WSJ article with video about this system, which used to be the standard way of transporting goods between New Jersey and NYC. Railroad cars would be driven onto barges with tracks and then taken across the harbor by tug; there's one business still doing this and I think this has got to be where they land. I of course learned about this means of freight transportation back when I kept my kayaks on a barge at Pier 63 - that barge was one of these rail cars. She'd been retired and repurposed, with a bar and grill, a performance space, and of course boat storage (back in those days) - you'll actually see a glimpse of the place if you watch the video, watch for the red caboose (a nod to the barge's working past) at 1:25. I didn't know that this was still going on for a long time; I've still never seen the cars on the car float (I'm probably always at work when that's going on) but I enjoyed seeing the facility where they come in. 

Heading back, I walked up to where the ferry to the Brooklyn Army Terminal docks, just to get a look at the harbor. Lots of whitecaps, definitely a good urban-hiking day (rather than kayaking). 

This must be a sanitation department facility - hope they're putting those plow blades away for the last time in the first half of the year! 
Nice view of Manhattan over there - 

And hey - I bet that's the park I was looking for! Turned out that they hadn't done the clearing of the entire waterfront thing like they did in Manhattan - this park was tucked in behind a working facility. I couldn't really see a way to get there from here, though, figured I'd come back on another day to figure that out, just took my picture and kept walking. 

But just beyond the facility where I'd spotted the park across the way, I saw a parks sign by what I would've otherwise taken to be the gate to another commercial facility (never would've guessed it from 2nd Avenue).

And yes, this is it!

At this point, my planned four-mile hike was running a good bit longer (ended up being closer to 6, which was fine), I was still a couple of miles from the F train if I didn't find something closer (I did, but I wasn't counting on that until I found it), and I didn't want to spend too long here - but I had to at least go in and get a better look at the park that's tucked away around the corner here.

Irving T. Bush, who built Bush Terminal starting in the 1890's

Nice looking park - 

And oh what a VIEW!!! Click for a better view of this view. Seriously.

Just gorgeous.

Gotta run now, but I'll be back!


Chris Partridge said...

Interesting...I recognised the name Irving T. Bush from a piece I wrote for my 'other' blog about Bush House in London, built as a base for companies trading with America - http://ornamentalpassions.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/bush-house-aldwych-wc2.html.

bonnie said...

Fascinating! I went over Irving's role in the development of the Brooklyn waterfront with a pretty light brush here - very interesting to read your post about Bush House after visiting his terminal.

bonnie said...

If I read correctly, he was the one who really started things out with the cross-harbor railway that was the standard means of getting goods into NYC for quite a long time. The Wikipedia article on him mentions him ordering carloads (railway cars of course) of hay from Michigan just to show people that this would actually work.