I just took my fourth trip to New York City this summer. It was only my second time setting foot in Brooklyn. I finally did what so many New York tourists are encouraged to do: Walk the Brooklyn Bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the country (finished in 1883), and is nearly 1600 feet long. My cousin, who moved to Brooklyn this summer, was more than game to join me, as she hadn’t walked the Bridge yet, either.
I highly recommend the walk. As long as you’re in reasonably good health, it doesn’t take that long (20-25 minutes if you’re not stopping to take photos every few minutes, but you probably will be). You can walk across from Manhattan and then take the subway back; take the subway to Brooklyn and walk back; or do what my cousin and I did: Walk both ways.
It was a neat experience. There are cars passing down below, and at times, you can feel the bridge move. If you go mid-day, you’ll see all kinds of people–tourists, joggers, bicyclists, school groups; you name it. Keep to the right, because otherwise you’ll get run over by bicyclists or rollerbladers. Men and women set up shop with their coolers selling cold bottles of water for a dollar on the bridge. (The downside being that if I heard the chant “Cold water, one dollar” one more time, I was going to scream.)
The main reason to walk the bridge (aside from being able to say you did it) is the view. You can get terrific views of the harbor, Staten Island, the Statue of Liberty and ferries, along with the Manhattan skyline, Brooklyn, and nearby bridges.
To make the experience complete, you’ll want to stop for lunch on the Brooklyn side just to say you did. I recommend a place most New York City guides won’t: No, not Grimaldis, that’s the one the others recommend. Me, I prefer not to have to wait in line in the hot sun for pizza–no matter how good it might be. I recommend trying No. 1 Front Street, which is next door to Grimaldi’s in a beautiful old bank building.
Oh sure, we headed for Grimaldi’s first, because that’s what everyone does. But when we arrived, already overheated from the walk across the bridge, there was a line. In the direct sun. And it wasn’t moving. My cousin, God bless her, is a lot like me when it comes to needing to eat on a regular basis. We were both pretty famished by this time. We looked at each other, then at the restaurant we’d just passed in a white building on the corner, and said “Let’s try that place instead.” We were so glad we did.
No. 1 Front Street has a lovely white stone exterior and equally lovely brick interior with lots of dark wood, a bar area with seating and plenty of two top tables in front of large windows. It also has glorious air conditioning, which is most welcome on a hot day.
I was a little nervous when we first went inside, because we were the only customers, and you know what they say about the quality of food in empty restaurants. But apparently, they had just started serving lunch in June. My cousin got the BLT sliders (mini-Angus burgers with bacon, lettuce and tomatoes), I got the portobello sandwich, and both of us got sweet potato fries.
Those were the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever eaten outside of Vermont. (I have very high standards when it comes to my sweet potato fries.) The sandwich was pretty tasty, too. It was plenty enough food to fill us up, so dessert was out of the question. Plus we still had to walk back across the bridge again. Not something you want to do on an overly full stomach.
Service was fantastic–whether because for most of the time we were there, we were the only customers, or because it’s always that way, I can’t say. Our waiter was very attentive, and the manager even took the time to see to it we were happy with our meal. We had an enjoyable lunch and the best part? We each got to order what we wanted (as opposed to making compromises over a shared a pizza). We left the restaurant with full bellies, quite pleased with our discovery.