First thing's first: DUMBO is so named—like Tribeca
in Manhattan or RAMBO just north—because of its location. Whereas Tribeca is the "triangle below Canal," DUMBO is—in both senses—"down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass." While it was once a haven for starving artists and the working class residents of Brooklyn, DUMBO has seen tremendous surges in property values in the last decade. Where Brillo pads used to be made, the upper class now scrub out their own spot in what used to be a significantly cheaper alternative to Manhattan rents. Formerly called Fulton Landing—after Robert Fulton, the man who invented the steam engine and who's ironclad ship, the USS Monitor, was built in Greenpoint
during the Civil War—DUMBO remains connected to Manhattan by more than just the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges: the New York Water Taxi
stills runs commuter and tour boats from Fulton Landing every day.
If you're coming into DUMBO from Manhattan, there's the usual subway routes, of course, and taxi cabs, but one of the things that New Yorkers and tourists alike love to do is take a stroll down the Brooklyn Bridge
. Still one of the world's largest pieces of freemasonry, the Brooklyn Bridge features a unique promenade that spans the entire length of the bridge and carries pedestrians above the pulsing inter-borough traffic. One a clear day, all of Manhattan and Brooklyn is visible, and views down the East River and into Upper New York Bay. The promenade is adorned with many informational plaques to fill up your historical head and plenty of benches to rest your feet. Floating underneath the bridge is the curious Barge Music
venue, where 125-seat audiences are treated to exceptional chamber music in an unlikely setting. If you'd like something more visual, though, the waterfront is also home to the DUMBO Art Center
, a 3,000 square foot gallery that offers seasonal exhibitions, workshops, and the annual Art Under The Bridge Festival
The art isn't relegated to one museum, though, and rightfully so, since DUMBO used to be a cheap place for artists to live. Now, the area is just expensive enough to attract art galleries instead, like the Museum Of Modern Arthur
, and Schickler Howard Fine Art
With rising property values inevitably comes the boutique shopping. DUMBO has places like Wonk
and the City Joinery
for those in need of innovative furniture solutions to space-conscious Brooklynites with expanding wallets. Visitors, though, might be more interested in the stylings of FIT-alum ZOE
, who's upscale fashions have found a likely home in DUMBO. There's also Blueberi
, sister shop of Park Slope
's trendy Redberi
, a uber-haute boutique with selections that will boggle even the most stable of mavens.
For eats and drinks, art-crowd friendly 68 Jay Street
has the usual bar selections as well as a wine list and happy hour, while the DUMBO General Store
offers an even more relaxed atmosphere, with a café component and a wealth of books to leaf through as your eyes adjust from all those art exhibits. Prefer something sweet? Try the DUMBO location of the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory
or the master chocolates hand-made at Jacques Torres Chocolate.
Now that we've had dinner backwards, head to Front Street for the contemporary American cuisine of Five Front, the seasonal Mediterranean dishes of Superfine, or authentic Mexican food served by chef Danny Mena at Hecho en Dumbo at the DUMB General Store.