Mostly off the top of my head with a good bit of double-checking in Wikipedia. If any Dutch-speaking friends want to correct my spelling of Dutch place names, feel free.
And as always, click on any photo for a better view.
And that's enough from me - without further ado, here's Flat Stanley!
Hi everybody! I'm Flat Stanley, and today I'm visiting Brooklyn!
Brooklyn is one of the five boroughs of New York City. Originally this was all part of the territory of the Native American tribe called the Lenape (including a group called the Canarsie, after which the Canarsie neighborhood of Brooklyn is named). As Europeans began to head this way, a lot of the Northeast was settled by the English, but the Dutch were some of the first European settlers in this particular area. There were several Dutch towns here at the end of Long Island that eventually grew together; the one that gave its name to the whole borough was originally called "Breuckelen". Eventually when the English took over this area, they changed some of the names to names that sounded more English, but a lot of the names around here still hark back to the ones that the Dutch gave them. See "Flatbush" there on the map? That was originally something like "vlack bosch", meaning flat woods, which is what was here back when the Dutch moved in. It's still pretty flat today (maybe not as flat as me, but I'm awfully flat!), but not so many woods now. Another Dutch name for this part was "Midwout", and the neighborhood we're actually setting out from today is now called Midwood.
We're riding the subway today 'cause Cousin Bonnie doesn't actually have a car. A lot of people here in New York City don't have cars - if everybody in New York City had a car, you would never be able to get anywhere in your car because there would just always, always, always be a traffic jam. It's like that sometimes anyways but not all the time, but Bonnie doesn't worry about it too much because she goes all over the place on public transportation, which you can ride all over the city. You can catch a cab or use a car service if you want to get somewhere in a hurry, but they're kind of expensive - and if you get stuck in one of those traffic jams you might have gotten there faster on the subway anyways!
Here we are on the subway! Did you ever hear the song about New York with the line "The people ride in a hole in the ground?" That's the subway (although out here it runs in a trench, not a hole, and in some places it runs up on a trestle, but sometimes the people do ride in a hole in the ground). There are also buses and ferries and New York City is a great city for walking in!
Speaking of walking, now we've gotten off of the subway for a little walking in the part of Flatbush that people call "Victorian Flatbush". I bet when you think of New York City you think of tall buildings, but there are quieter places too, with houses and lawns and trees and stuff. This neighborhood was built up in the early 1900's, that's why it's "Victorian". This was really one of the earliest suburbs ever and although every house looks a little bit different, if you walk around and look carefully you can see similar bits on different houses - it was kind of an early version of pre-fab where the houses were built for people one at at time, but they could say "Oh, I want this porch, and those windows upstairs, and so on" and the builders had some of the pieces already built and could put them together pretty fast. There were movie studios in the area, and Ebbetts Field, where the Brooklyn Dodgers played, was not too far from here.
And speaking of movie studios - I don't think there are any actual studios left in the area, but it's still REALLY popular for making movies and TV shows - with all the old houses, if you can get the modern cars and people cleared out and bring in old-timey stuff, you can make it look just like the 20's or the 30's. Also, the owners of the houses here sometimes rent out their homes to movie makers who just need a nice place to be the home of their main character or something. I forgot to ask what movie these people were making but they had a truck full of lighting equipment that they were bringing into one of the local homes so they could shoot some scenes here. The best thing was that the guy who's standing in the truck had met me before -- Bonnie asked if we could take pictures and explained why and he just lit up and said "Oh, I know Flat Stanley, I have a little cousin who sent me Flat Stanley too, we went to Harlem and rode the Staten Island Ferry and did all kinds of stuff!" That was REALLY cool!
Phew, this is much less scary!
I am the king of Pumpkinland!
There are some big grocery stores in Brooklyn, but there are also smaller places like this everywhere, most of the people who live here have one somewhere really close by so if they are going to have, oh, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, and suddenly realize they don't have milk, and just they just can't eat their PB and J without milk, they can just run out and get some right around the corner.
We've left Flatbush now and come across the park (by subway again, and now it's running in a hole in the ground, just like the song says - oh, and what park? Prospect Park!) to Grand Army Plaza.This is the Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch, in honor of those who fought in the Civil War. Sometimes you can climb up inside and there's a space where they have art exhibits but Bonnie was mostly thinking of Prospect Park when we came here, so we forgot to even go see!
Here's the entrance to Prospect Park, the main park in Brooklyn. Parks are really important when you have this many people living close together and Prospect Park is a really nice one.
It was designed by the same people who designed Central Park, super-famous park designers Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux. Supposedly they thought Prospect Park was better than Central Park because there were more places where it was quiet and you couldn't see buildings and you could imagine you were out in the country -- I don't know if that's true but that's what some people in Brooklyn say. This is Brooklyn's "back yard" - in the neighborhood where we started out, the houses do have little back yards, but more people live in apartment buildings (like Bonnie does) and when they want to get outside this is one of the best places to come!
It's really pretty! Fall's just starting now, still a lot of green but some of the trees are starting to turn colors.
And then I tamed a giant snake! He looked scary but I patted him on the nose and he liked it. He said he's just there to bother the people who bother the flowers - the people who take care of the parks in NYC put the flowers there for everybody to enjoy so if somebody picks them to take them home for themselves it's not fair.
Last stop here in Brooklyn, right in the same place - this is the main branch of the Brooklyn Library. Brooklyn became part of New York City in 1898. It's got the most people living in it of all of the boroughs and it would still be one of the biggest cities in the USA if it wasn't part of NYC. Brooklyn has its own library system, though, and Wikipedia says that it's the 5th largest in the country. This is the central branch, built in 1941. It's so dignified!
There are a million more things we could've done in Brooklyn - we could have gone to an art museum, or a transit museum, or a botanical garden, or a concert, or the canoe club in Canarsie where Bonnie loves to go paddling, or Coney Island, or fishing on one of the fishing boats in Sheepshead Bay, or horseback riding at a stable on the other side of the park, or, or, or, oh, just so many things to do in Brooklyn, but there are a few more things that a visitor to New York City is just supposed to see, so this is it - time to head back underground and travel on into Manhattan!
To Be Continued, SOON!