Close-Up on DUMBO, Brooklyn


Portions of this article have been updated.

Walk down the quiet cobblestone street in the shadow of a towering warehouse and the sturdy stone of the Brooklyn Bridge, and find a green park and a view of the skyline intersected by two bridges. Artists have worked and mused in this symbiosis of industry and nature since the ’80s, when real estate developer David C. Walentas recognized its potential as the next Soho. Latching onto the acronym trend, he christened the area formerly known as Fulton Landing DUMBO, for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. It worked; yuppies and trustafarians are pricing out artists who leave under a sign advertising luxury condos. Dreading the change, DUMBO General Store (111 Front Street) owner Anna Castellani reflects, “There’s not a lot of people with allergies and emotional problems like in Manhattan. I hope it stays that way.”

Boundaries: East River to the north, Bridge Street to the east, York Street to the south, and Old Fulton Street to the west

Transportation: Take the F train to York Street (15 minutes from Union Square) or the A/C to High Street. In 1998, Walentas paid the MTA a fee of $90,000 for extending the B25 route into DUMBO, linking it with East New York through downtown Brooklyn.

Main Drags: Washington Street provides studio space and minimal commerce, including a bank, grocery, and pet-supply shop. Old Fulton Street leads to the Fulton Ferry Landing.

Prices to Rent: It ain’t cheap. Studio or one-bedroom, $3,000 and up ($1,500 to $3,600); two-bedroom, $4,000 and up ($2,800 to $5,500); loft, $4,000 to $6,000 and up ($4,500 to $12,000).

Prices to Buy: Luxury buildings add to the yuppie cachet. One-bedroom, $600K to $1 million ($700K to $800K); loft, $ 1 million and up ($600K to $2.7 million).

Galleries: Metaphor Contemporary Art (382 Atlantic Avenue), Howard Schickler Fine Art (45 Main Street, suite 402), Spring Gallery (126A Front Street), and the D.U.M.B.O. Arts Center (DAC) (30 Washington Street).

Local Shops: Primarily opened to provide art materials to the community, DUMBO General Store does double duty as a café. Overpass Flowers houses InsidersNY (65 Washington Street), a line of accessories with heat-transferred images by artist Sigal de Mayo. Young urban professionals can furnish their condos at ABC Carpet & Home’s DUMBO branch (20 Jay Street). Using donated bicycles or parts, Recycle-a-Bicycle (55 Washington Street) trains New York City youth to rebuild bikes.

Green Space: Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park (between the bridges and along the river) displays the greatest skyline ever.

Cultural Institutions: Bargemusic showcases chamber music (Fulton Ferry Landing). White Wave Young Soon Kim Dance Company (25 Jay Street, suite 100) brings modern dance to the bridges. St. Ann’s Warehouse (38 Water Street) stages eclectic performing-art shows.

Community Group: Since 1989, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Coalition (BBPC) had lobbied to build a 1.3-mile-long waterfront park beginning at the Manhattan Bridge.

Local Landmark: The Brooklyn Bridge, of course, which houses the Anchorage, a dramatic performance space that’s been sadly shut down for security reasons.

Restaurants: River Café (1 Water Street) requires boys to wear a jacket. Expect a line at Grimaldi’s (19 Old Fulton Street) for its coal-oven-baked pizza and another at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory for its homemade deep, dark fudge topping (Fulton Ferry Landing).

Bars: Hip kids get their drink on at Superfine (126 Front Street) and Low (81 Washington Street), the bar below Rice. City workers head for the neighborhood dive Between the Bridges (63 York Street). The fancier folk frolic at the 66 Water Street Bar.

Happenings: The BBPC runs a film series in July and throws its “Sunset Shangri-la,” an annual benefit party, in Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park. The DAC celebrates every October with its “DUMBO Art Under the Bridge Festival,” offering dance, theater, film, video, art, open studios, spoken word, and parties.

Politicians: Councilmember David Yassky, Assemblywoman Joan L. Millman, State Senator Martin Connor, and Congresswoman Nydia M. Velazquez—all Democrats

Crime Stats: The 84th Precinct serves all of downtown Brooklyn, including Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, and Vinegar Hill. As of September 25, 2005 it reported 0 murders, 6 rapes, 158 robberies, 100 felonious assaults, and 106 burglaries. (The 84th Precinct serves all of downtown Brooklyn, including Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, and Vinegar Hill. As of April 6, it reported zero murders, same as last year; one rape, same; 63 robberies, down six; 47 burglaries, down 11; and 49 felonious assaults, up 18).

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 22, 2003

Archive Highlights