24 January 2007

Neighborhood Update & Summary

So it's been a few days since I hit the halfway mark last Friday, and I figured I ought to at least offer a brief update on what's been going on in the Runs Brooklyn world since then. And the short answer is... nothing much. I've actually been enjoying the break from running (which has coincided with some of the colder and windier weather we've experienced out here this winter, not that I'm complaining), and have been able to devote a substantial amout of quality time to my non-running obligations (the dissertation, especially). I still intend on posting some sort of first-half wrap-up or summary or whatever, including statistics about miles and hours and everything. But that's going to require me to finish rebuilding the spreadsheet I accidentally deleted last week -- something that's taking longer than expected. This, of course, is mostly because it's really boring and I've been putting it off.

Instead, today I offer a neighborhood-by-neighborhood overview of where I've been spending my time (and where I'll need to spend more time during the second half). After looking over the "big map" and seeing where all the orange lines are, I assigned each Brooklyn neighborhood to one of four categories: Completed (100% of the streets run); Getting Close (more than about 2/3 of the streets run); Making Progress (between one-third and two-thirds run); and Needs Work (less than 1/3 complete). Kind of like a mid-semester grade report, I suppose.

Before I get to the list, however, let me preemptively offer a few clarifications:
  • First, no actual statistics were harmed in the creation of this list. I merely eyeballed the map and made my best guesses as to what percentage of each neighborhood I've trod. In other words, this is hardly a scientific affair.
  • Second, I'm quite aware that neighborhood boundaries are not set in stone, and can vary depending on who you ask or what source you consult. So to expedite things, I relied entirely on the maps in John Manbeck & Kenneth Jackson's The Neighborhoods of Brooklyn, 2nd Edition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004) as my guide here. To that end, I've followed their lead and done things like include DUMBO and Vinegar Hill in with Downtown, for instance, and group East Williamsburg, Northside, and Southside together simply as Williamsburg. Any complaints, take it up with them.
  • And third, my "strategy" (or whatever you want to call it) for the first half centered largely around running the southernmost neighborhoods first, since they're the farthest away from my home base in Greenpoint (though as I approached the overall 50% mark I did do several runs much closer to home). So if you live in Brooklyn Heights or Bushwick or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, don't read anything into the lack of time spent in your corner of the borough. It's nothing personal, I promise. And besides, look on the bright side -- you'll see plenty of me this spring and summer.
Okay, onto the list itself, which will be followed by a (very brief) analysis (click here for a handy map of Brooklyn neighborhoods):

Completed (100%)
  • Bath Beach
  • Bay Ridge
  • Bensonhurst
  • Bergen Beach
  • Brighton Beach
  • Coney Island
  • Dyker Heights
  • Flatlands
  • Fort Hamilton
  • Gerritsen Beach
  • Gravesend
  • Manhattan Beach
  • Marine Park
  • Mill Basin
  • Sea Gate
  • Sheepshead Bay
Getting Close (>67%)
  • Canarsie
  • Greenpoint
  • Midwood
Making Progress (33-67%)
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant
  • Borough Park
  • East Flatbush
  • East New York
  • Fort Greene
  • Prospect Heights
  • Sunset Park
  • Williamsburg
  • Windsor Terrace
Needs Work (<33%)
  • Boerum Hill
  • Brooklyn Heights
  • Brownsville
  • Bushwick
  • Carroll Gardens
  • Clinton Hill
  • Cobble Hill
  • Crown Heights
  • Cypress Hills
  • Downtown Brooklyn
  • Flatbush
  • Gowanus
  • Kensington & Parkville
  • Park Slope
  • Prospect-Lefferts Gardens
  • Prospect Park South
Analysis: Actually, there's not much to analyze, now that I think about it. But I will offer three quick observations:

First, I hadn't really thought about this, but it appears that I've already run most of the pleasant-sounding neighborhoods with the word "beach" or "bay" in the name, but have yet to spend much time in most of the places whose names include "hill" or "heights." I have to admit, that's a little depressing (from a running point of view, at least).

Second (and on a more encouraging note), a good number of neighborhoods on the "Needs Work" list -- places like Cobble Hill, Prospect Park South, and Kensington & Parkville -- are small both geographically and in terms of population. Conversely, many of the borough's more expansive neighborhoods (again, measured in both people and square miles) like Bed-Stuy, Sheepshead Bay, East New York, Canarsie, Gravesend, and Borough Park are areas where I've made quite a bit of progress or finished up entirely.

Third, although there are a number of neighborhoods I clearly need to spend more time in, I have run at least once through all of the places listed with the glaring exception of Brooklyn Heights. Admittedly, I haven't yet run in Vinegar Hill or DUMBO either, but since we're lumping those in with downtown...

Anyway, there you have it. I have no idea what any of it means -- I just really wanted to post something while I was putting together the big "Runs Brooklyn First-Half Extravaganza," which should be forthcoming one of these days.

Finally, I've also recently added a few dozen photos (covering all of the last seven months' worth of running) to my flickr page. Here's a sampling:

hair salon, bed-stuy
Hair salon in Bed-Stuy

houses, brownsville
Houses in Brownsville

iglesia, sunset park
Sunset Park church

church, east new york
Church on Liberty Avenue in East New York

barber shop, east flatbush
Barbershop in East Flatbush