Here comes another quick public post because, let's review once more, our "work won’t be fully realized until it’s shared." From a prompt related to walking outside my front door and taking a good look around.
My bad attitude about the current neighborhood situation has restrained my natural explorer. So I’m coming to this exercise with appreciation, especially because I extol the virtues of backyard wayfinding eagerly and often. At first glance, the radius I’ve drawn on the Google map doesn’t look like it holds much. A quarter mile in an urban space is traversed by foot by necessity and on the regular. Between biking to yoga and driving more than I’d prefer, I’m sure I’ve passed by most of these streets.
I decide to begin the wandering as lunch ends at one of our local favorites called 983. A chalkboard placard out front proclaims it Bushwick’s Living Room. I sit on one of the three wooden benches just outside the entrance, draped in heavy blue curtains installed to keep out the cold. Such comfort is unnecessary with today’s temperatures nearing sixty degrees. The ubiquitous stickers seen on every surface surround me here: the grim reaper, Parks Department, band names and taglines, none of which mean much to me. The woman next to me picks at the rip in her jeans with bejeweled fingers and stubs out her cigarette in the silver bucket at our feet. I’m on Flushing Ave, a long, busy artery cutting from the East River straight on to Queens. It’s low scale, mixed use but leans toward the industrial side.
I cross Flushing to Central Ave as the crosswalk hand flashes red. I pass a mailman pushing his cart with one hand, a slice of pizza crammed into his mouth with the other. He nods at me and I smile.
Turning up Central at H&H Repair Service, stacks of tires and cars parked haphazardly behind the heavy black gate, I cross the street toward Tiltz Sports Bar + Arcade where the brash yellow awning reports in blue block letters that we can “eat * drink * play” here. I have done none of those things at Tiltz and I wonder if anyone living in the three floors above frequent the joint. A tractor trailer rambles past as I walk just a few paces up the incline of Central Ave to a sweet little respite: Green Central Knoll playground.
A forest green sign affixed to its gates, installed by the City of New York Parks and Recreation department in 2001, is a history nerd’s dream. These 2,595 acres have been named for the three streets that bound it: Evergreen [for a cemetery], Central [for its prime location] and Knoll [a local businessman]. There’s talk of Peter Stuyvesant and Canarsie Indians here in 1638, farming and breweries, decay and revitalization [so please use the green plastic bags provided by Mutt Mitt to clean up after your dog]. The quaint playground gives way to expansive playing fields, with a few old school water fountains and green score board reminiscent of Fenway Park. It is no doubt an oasis for the kids at Andrew Jackson PS 145. The School of Innovation! Home of the Jaguars! Hold up. What the heck is Old Hickory doing here?
I’ve reached the southern border of the radius as I stop and wait as four people furiously pedal by in the designated bike lane. I turn left at the small police station onto to Noll Ave, past the “Authorized Only” police cars parked diagonally up on the sidewalk. There’s loud music playing, a discarded Christmas tree pegged against the chain link fence of the officer’s parking lot. A tag on a scrawny sapling reads “I’M YOUR NEW TREE” and suggests I should scan the QR code for more information. There is a small bank of five 3-story brick row houses across the street, set back behind a squat cinder block wall and cement driveway suitable for one car, a Brooklyn luxury. Each front door reflects the personality within: here faded wood with etched glass oval window; there candy apple red; another metal with white sunburst design.
To be continued…