Finding the City by Bicycle

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To get a sense of how a city is organized I have found that the best way is by riding a bicycle. I have had lots of experience riding my bicycle to “find the city” in The San Francisco Bay Area, a series of bicycle tours within the city of Tokyo, Japan or day rides to explore Almaty, Kazakhstan that have given me a stronger more intimate sense of how these places have developed, decay and are organized. By riding a bicycle, I found places I would have never have come across with a car, subway, or walking.  I decided I would do the same for Brooklyn, since this project is in some ways about how communities fit within the context of the city.

Yesterday, I rode from one end of Brooklyn (downtown) to the beaches of Coney Island and Brighton Beach armed with my point and shoot digicam and my 35mm Minolta. The goal was to take some photos to put in a slideshow to give you a sense of what Brooklyn looks like and who lives here.

You can tell through the signage in the photos that Brooklyn is incredibly diverse. The architecture also speaks a language of the waves of immigration, changing tastes and material realities over the past few centuries. You can see that much of my ride was along the elevated subway line above New Utrecht Avenue. I didn’t take a map but I’m familiar enough to get lost and find my way toward the beaches. I could see the Verrazano Bridge during much of my ride and as a native from the San Francisco Bay Area it reminded me a little of riding in the outerlands of San Francisco’s Sunset or Richmond districts. I couldn’t help but notice all the different types of restaurants along the way. I noted that I could tell from the businesses what kind of people lived in these neighborhoods by this alone.

As a reward to myself I stopped in a small restaurant to have Laughman noodles, Kimchi and Nan at Uteshchi a Soviet Korean/Uzbek restaurant off of Brighton Beach Avenue.