09 August 2006

Subways and Snowboards

Wednesday, August 9: Bushwick, Brownsville, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg, Greenpoint

Distance: 9.53 miles
Time: 1:15
Pace: 7:52
Temp: 70
Dewpoint: 60
Weather: sunny & breezy

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 9.15
Total Unique Miles:
Percent of Brooklyn Run:

Route: I began at the Dekalb Avenue stop on the L, then ran east to St. Nicholas, south to Bleecker, over a block to Cypress, down a block to Menahan, back to St. Nicholas and on to Gates, right on Gates to Wyckoff, and then on to Halsey. I made a right on Halsey, which I followed to Saratoga, and then went south on Saratoga to Dumont, turned right on 98th, another right on Ralph, and followed it back up to Halsey. Then left on Halsey, north on Patchen, left on Broadway, right on Sumner, left on Humboldt, west on Powers, and then north on Manhattan to Norman.

Notes: Today dawned cooler and drier, and I was up early to greet it. After spending yesterday systematically running up and down quiet little streets in Sheepshead Bay, I figured a change of pace was in order and planned a looping route through Bushwick, Brownsville, and Bed-Stuy. And what a difference -- yesterday, I despaired at finding interesting subjects to photograph; today, I could've easily taken 50 (I deliberately keep only a 16 MB card in the camera, which limits me to about 25 two-megapixel shots and reduces the tempatation to spend too much time snapping pictures).

Speaking of pictures, I'm keenly aware of the potential for appearing as nothing more than some kind of opportunistic tourist, slumming his way through the shabbier neighborhoods in search of "authentic" urban tableaux. But in my experience so far, there really do seem to be more interesting opportunities for photography in some of the lower-income areas.

Moreover, my runs in places like East New York and Brownsville and parts of Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy seem to really fascinate people -- the most common question I get about this whole thing (whether in person or via email) is "aren't you worried about the 'bad' neighborhoods?" My answer's always the same: I'm as concerned about my safety as anyone else is in the big city, but I also engage in the usual precautions -- other than the camera I don't carry any valuables, I try to keep aware of my surroundings at all times, and I don't run at night.

I do, however, come into contact with people from time to time, for better or worse. Just today, for instance, I was stopped twice in Brownsville. The first time was by a young guy who was part of a crew painting the elevated subway tracks, and who was somewhat suspicious (at first, at least) about my taking pictures. We chatted for a minute and he softened up once he realized I wasn't there to check up on him and his co-workers. The second time was by a frantic guy trying to unload one of the more improbable pieces of stolen merchandise to be found in Brownsville in August -- a snowboard. I told him to try me again in December.

In any event, I made it home safely. And the weather was fantastic, especially compared to the recent above-average warmth and humidity. All in all, a great run. Here are some pictures:

Barbershop on Halsey Street

Garden on Saratoga Avenue

Church on Ralph Avenue

Broadway, Bushwick/Bed-Stuy line

Motorcycle... sculpture? (also on Broadway in Bushwick)


At 11:51 AM, Anonymous jen said...

Gary, great comments about taking the photos in the shabbier neighborhoods. And I, too, have taken so few photos in the nice, pleasant neighborhoods where I have walked, and so many in the "rougher" parts of town.

At 4:41 PM, Blogger Gary said...

Thanks. I've also noticed that so far, my running pace is a bit quicker when I'm in the more run-down neighborhoods, though this may be completely coincidental...


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