Dumbo in Brooklyn

Monday, 11 March 2019 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, New York City

Empire State Building framed by Manhattan Bridge, as seen from Washington Street © MusikAnimal/cc-by-sa-4.0

Empire State Building framed by Manhattan Bridge, as seen from Washington Street © MusikAnimal/cc-by-sa-4.0

Dumbo (short for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Several other New York City neighborhoods are known by portmanteaus, including Tribeca, SoHo, NoHo, NoMad, and Nolita in Manhattan, and BoCoCa in Brooklyn. The area known as DUMBO used to be known as Gairville. It encompasses two sections: one located between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, which connect Brooklyn to Manhattan across the East River, and another that continues east from the Manhattan Bridge to the Vinegar Hill area. The neighborhood is bounded by Brooklyn Bridge Park to the north, the Brooklyn Bridge to the west, Brooklyn Heights to the south and Vinegar Hill to the east. Dumbo is part of Brooklyn Community Board 2.

The area was originally a ferry landing, characterized by 19th- and early 20th-century industrial and warehouse buildings, Belgian block streets, and its location on the East River by the imposing anchorage of the Manhattan Bridge. The entirety of Dumbo was bought by developer David Walentas and his company Two Trees Management in the late 20th century, and remade into an upscale residential and commercial community—first becoming a haven for art galleries, and currently a center for technology startups. The large community of tech startups earned DUMBO the nickname of “the center of the Brooklyn Tech Triangle”. In that time, Dumbo had become Brooklyn’s most expensive neighborhood, as well as New York City’s fourth-richest community overall; this is owing in part to its large concentration of technology startups, its close proximity to Manhattan, and its large number of former industrial buildings that have been converted into spacious luxury residential lofts.

In the 1890s, the western portion of the neighborhood was known as Fulton Landing, after the ferry stop that connected it to Manhattan before the Brooklyn Bridge opened. At that time, it was primarily a manufacturing district, with warehouses and factories that made machinery, paper boxes and Brillo soap pads. The area has been known, variously, as Rapailie, Olympia, and Walentasville. The cardboard box was invented in the Robert Gair building on Washington Street by Robert Gair, a Scottish emigrant; because of Gair’s fame, the area was known as Gairsville for a long time. The Gair building is now home to Etsy. With the deindustrialization of New York City, Dumbo began to become primarily residential; artists and other young homesteaders seeking relatively large and inexpensive loft apartment spaces for studios and homes began moving there in the late 1970s. The acronym ‘Dumbo’ arose in 1978, when new residents coined it in the belief such an unattractive name would help deter developers.

Near the end of the 20th century, as property became more and more expensive in Manhattan, Dumbo became increasingly gentrified. Even so, the acronym ‘Dumbo’ was largely unknown as late as 1997, and the area itself was very inclusive, serving mainly as an enclave for artists located along the East River and under the Manhattan Bridge. At this stage there were still many air conditioner repair shops, auto shops, and “seedy back alleys and wharves”; and, because the neighborhood was still gentrifying from its industrial past, it lacked even a bookstore, coffee shop, or laundromat. The efforts of Joy Glidden, the Founding Director of the Dumbo Arts Center (DAC) and co-founder of the Dumbo Art Under the Bridge Festival, achieved successful development in Dumbo, which is now a model for similar waterfront developments around the world. Glidden stated of Dumbo’s gentrification, “It may be one of the last of what could be considered a true arts community in New York.”

Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory © flickr.com - Jason Kuffer/cc-by-sa-2.0 © flickr.com - LWYang/cc-by-2.0 © MusikAnimal/cc-by-sa-4.0 © unsplash.com - valor kopeny Clock Tower Condominium © Thomson200 Empire State Building framed by Manhattan Bridge, as seen from Washington Street © MusikAnimal/cc-by-sa-4.0 Fulton Ferry © Laslovarga/cc-by-sa-3.0 Jane's Carousel © MusikAnimal/cc-by-sa-4.0 Street Fair under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass © MusikAnimal/cc-by-sa-4.0 Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, Jehova's Witnesses headquarters © Bjoertvedt/cc-by-sa-3.0 Manhattan Bridge, as seen from Dumbo © MusikAnimal/cc-by-sa-4.0
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Empire State Building framed by Manhattan Bridge, as seen from Washington Street © MusikAnimal/cc-by-sa-4.0
The DUMBO Historic District, a historic industrial complex and national historic district in Dumbo, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. It consists of 95 contributing buildings; the manufacturing concerns located in this district included Benjamin Moore & Co. (paint), Arbuckle Brothers (coffee and sugar), J.W. Masury & Son (paint), Robert Gair (paper boxes), E.W. Bliss (machinery), and Brillo (soap pads). The district includes the earliest large-scale reinforced concrete factory buildings in America. On December 18, 2007, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to designate Dumbo as the city’s 90th historic district. The Dumbo historic district consists of properties bound by John Street to the north, York Street to the south, Main Street to the west, and Bridge Street to the east.

The area has emerged as one of New York City’s premier arts districts, with a cluster of for-profit art galleries such as the Klompching Gallery, and such not-for-profit institutions as the St. Ann’s Warehouse and the A.I.R. Gallery. Chef Jacques Torres opened a chocolate factory in Dumbo in December 2000. Other culinary businesses in the area include Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, and The River Café, all clustered in Fulton Landing, also home to Bargemusic, a floating venue for classical music. Invitations for the 2009 presidential inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama were printed by Dumbo printer Precise Continental. The first public space in the neighborhood was Fulton Ferry, followed by Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park. The first six acres of Brooklyn Bridge Park, a joint state/city venture currently under development, were opened in March 2010. The building at 200 Water Street, which the Brillo Manufacturing Co. once occupied, is being renovated as a high-end condo building.

Dumbo has New York City’s highest concentration of technology firms by neighborhood (New York Digital District). Dumbo is home to 25 percent of New York City-based tech firms. Within a 10-block radius are 500 tech and creative firms that employ over 10,000 people. The City of New York, in conjunction with New York University, installed an incubator in Dumbo to support development of tech start-ups. Dumbo’s average office rent of $25 per square foot makes it more attractive to start-ups than Manhattan, where rents averaged $40 per square foot in 2013. The area has been compared to the Silicon Roundabout area in Shoreditch, East London, as well as to Manhattan’s Silicon Alley.

Read more on NYCgo.com – Dumbo, Brooklyn Historical Society Dumbo, Brooklyn Flea Dumbo and Wikipedia Dumbo (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.







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