Friday, January 13, 2012
East New York, Brooklyn, is one of the worst neighborhoods in the five boroughs of New York City. It is unlikely that you have ever visited or will ever visit. You won't find it in your not-for-tourists or secret New York guides. But, perhaps you are like me and don't trust what people tell you without corroboration. This is what garnered me respect with Mark Birnbaum (see here and here), when I asked him if he would be kind enough to show me documentation for his claims.
So when I tell you that you will not be visiting East New York, I would not be offended if you check cool guides and websites to New York City. If you locate much at all, you may find yourself looking at things like this quote from Forgotten-NY, a website which prides itself on the obscure and lesser-known:
But there are some parts of the city where I’ve trafficked very little. For example, this was my third time ever in Brownsville and its neighbor East New York on bike or foot.
If you peruse the AIA guide to New York City, you're only going to find about two pages. A church is listed, as well as a number of housing projects, a hospital, a health care center, and a mental hygiene center. Other sites include East Brooklyn Industrial Park and the remnants of the elevated train.
I toured the area recently with an old friend who, unbeknownst to me, grew up in East New York. He is Jewish, and East New York was the first home of his working-class family. Click the photo for a video tour of our excursion. My friend circulated, pointing his former residences. It was a trip down memory lane.
The wildest looking thoroughfare was Van Sinderen Avenue, which flanked the old elevated train line. My friend told me that this deserted, desolate, weed-ridden road was a lover's lane in his youth (see top photo).
East New York is not a great place to visit, and you probably wouldn't want to live there. However, having grown up there, like being from the South Bronx, is about the best street cred a New Yorker or former New Yorker is going to get. And for them, there are good memories - old haunts like a weed-ridden Lover's Lane :)
Related Post: Juxtaposition
Previous adventures with my friend Greg: None of Us Go, Signs Were All Around Us, You Always Find Something, Up in Smoke, Randazzo's, Wild Ride, Hunt's Point, Arthur Avenue, Greasy Spoon