After being cloistered in my apartment with a hellacious head cold for over a week, I bounded out into the sunshine Saturday morning, camera swinging from my neck and ready for a day of photography. My destination was the Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook, where my image Anable Basin, is currently on exhibit at Gallery Brooklyn. I missed the opening gala on October 27th due to the aforementioned cold, so I was anxious to see my work on display, and to take some photos of Erie Basin Park and the Red Hook waterfront.
As I walked down Ditmars Boulevard toward the train station, I smiled at the sun, breathed in the cool morning air – glad to be outside again – and pointed my lens at nature’s own autumnal displays hanging from branches of sleeping trees. Bright fiery red seemed to be the dominant leaf color and I can’t recall ever seeing whole trees ablaze like I’ve seen this year. When I reached the train station I took the N to 59th Street and transferred to the downtown #5 to Wall Street. Walking toward the East River and Pier 11, I stopped to take a few photos of the tourists happily wandering along this historic street before boarding the ferry at Slip-A sailing to Red Hook Brooklyn.
Exiting the ferry I, unlike the rest of my fellow passengers heading toward Ikea for a day of shopping, turned left and walked up to the cobble-stone covered Beard Street; a semi-desolate stretch of road that runs adjacent to the water front of historic warehouses and Erie Basin Park.
The remnants of Red Hook’s shipping heyday are everywhere as you walk along Beard Street. From the 19th to the mid-20th centuries this was one of the busiest shipping ports in the world. This same waterfront has now been incorporated into Erie Basin Park and has retained some of the old maritime decay to make it very appealing as a riverside park and an outdoor port museum.
When I reached Van Brunt Street my heart gave a little leap as I saw two colossal red brick warehouses known as the Red Hook Stores, originally owned and built by William Beard in the 1870’s. I spent two hours taking photos of them and what made these warehouses so alluring for me were the huge vaulted doors and windows framed by arched iron shutters, and the three aging trolley cars sitting at the foot of the warehouse facing the waterfront. I nearly swooned when I saw them sitting there in the sun. Although their paint was cracked and peeling and their insides were spotted with rust, they were beautiful to me.
It was time to head over to Gallery Brooklyn, which is also on Van Brunt Street, but further inland between Dikeman and Wolcott Streets. When I walked through the door of Gallery Brooklyn I was greeted by the curator Pauline, an art history student from France now living in Brooklyn, who happily informed me that Anable Basin SOLD, and on opening night too! That was the icing on the cake of a wonderful day!!! I spent about thirty minutes talking with Pauline and taking photos of the other exhibits. Once out on the street again, I continued to shoot around the neighborhood as I headed back toward the waterfront.
Pier 41 at Van Dyke Street was built by Col. Daniel Richards in 1873, and is where the last of these historic warehouses on the Red Hook Waterfront stands. It is home to a winery, a glass shop, a brass factory, a furniture maker and a restaurant where diners have unobstructed views of the Statue of Liberty and the East River. People were sitting outside along the edge of the pier chatting, reading and just enjoying the day as I photographed a shallow beach dotted with old pylons and the broken remains of a now defunct dock.
Leaving the pier behind me, I walked through a parking lot and came upon a small corn field with tall dried stalks swaying against the blue sky, and a pumpkin patch with a few curly yellow flowers blooming between large green leaves. It did surprise me, but at the same time I thought it seemed right at home in this diverse neighborhood.
It was close on four o’clock when the clouds began to roll in and the sun, not to be pushed aside, sent forth a gossamer curtain of light that fanned out in illuminating rays, casting silver fire on the East River. I stood in awe watching these changes in the sky then pointed my camera skyward to capture the sun’s glory before the rain came.