A Few City of New York Thoughts

Brownsville today. Clean & safe streets.

Be patient, in less than two weeks, I will be back on Dauntless and my blogs will revert to its focus on boats, cruising and travel.

But in the meantime, I find myself with a lot of time; maybe too much time, thinking and reflecting, reflecting and thinking and the continuous circle that entails.

Burned out cars and dilapidated buildings on sixth street, Sunset Park in the 1980's. Photo by ROBERT MADDEN/National Geographic Creative
Burned out cars and dilapidated buildings on sixth street, Sunset Park, Brooklyn in the 1980’s.
Photo by ROBERT MADDEN/National Geographic Creative

Meeting an old friend in the middle Brooklyn yesterday, driving from the Bronx; one is reminded that the transportation networks of NYC, roads and public transportation, as outstanding as they are, were never meant for doing what I was doing, going from the Bronx to Brooklyn and return.

New York City was put together in the “Consolidation of the City of Greater New York” in 1898.  Before 1898, NYC consisted of Manhattan and the Bronx.  The towns of the Bronx having been incorporated into NYC during the preceding 25 years.

So until 1898, the City of Brooklyn, (then one of the largest cities in the U.S.) was incorporated into the City of Greater New York.  At the same time, all the little villages/towns of Staten Island and Queens were included.  Thus even to this day, the addresses in Queens, refer to the village, e.g. Flushing, Long Island City, but Brooklyn is all Brooklyn, while Manhattan is of course New York.

So the “City”, “New York”, Manhattan to the rest of you, is where most of the commerce takes place and thus our transportation system, public and highways, was developed to get people from the boonies to New York.  But driving across the boroughs, let’s say from Bronx to Brooklyn, is a pain in the ass.

My Drive Clara Barton H.S.
My Drive Clara Barton H.S. From the Bronx, through Queens and Brooklyn

But it gives one time to see how the places I lived in Brooklyn, 16 years ago have changed or in some respects have stayed the same and that’s for the better.

Driving through Brownsville, the clean streets, single women walking alone, are all signs of the changes that took place in the last 30 years, as well as the dedication of Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg.  Giuliani in particular gets no credit for making NYC clean and safe.  Before his time, Manhattan was difficult, but livable.  The ghettos of Brownsville, East New York, Bedford Stuyvesant were littered with burned out cars on every block, walking was impossible, driving was perilous.

A Walk though Prospect Park for the first time in 15 years.
A Walk though Prospect Park for the first time in 15 years.

Giuliani proceeded to make every NYC employee do their job.  Garbage was picked up, crooks were arrested, rules were enforced.

Thanks for listening.


Author: Richard on Dauntless

I’m an eclectic person, who grew up in New York, lived overseas for many years and have a boat, Dauntless, a 42 foot Kadey Krogen trawler yacht. Dauntless enables me to not only live in many different parts of the world, but to do it in a way that is interesting, affordable, with the added spice of a challenge. Dauntless also allows me to be in touch with nature. As the boat glides through the ocean, you have a sense of being part of a living organism. When dolphins come to frolic, they stay longer if you are out there talking to them, watching them. Birds come by, sometimes looking for a handout; sometimes grateful to find a respite from their long journey. I grew up on the New York waterfront, in the West Village, when everything west of Hudson St. was related to shipping and cargo from around the world. For a kid, it was an exciting place of warehouses, trucks, and working boats of all kinds: tugs and the barges and ships, cargo and passenger, they were pushing around. My father was an electrical engineer, my mother an intellectual, I fell in between. I have always been attracted to Earth’s natural processes, the physical sciences. I was in 8th grade when I decided to be a Meteorologist. After my career in meteorology, my natural interest in earth sciences: geology, astronomy, geography, earth history, made it a natural for me to become a science teacher in New York City, when I moved back to the Big Apple. Teaching led to becoming a high school principal to have the power to truly help kids learn and to be successful not only in school but in life. Dauntless is in western Europe now. In May and June, I will be wrapping up the last two years in northern Europe, heading south to spend the rest of the year in Spain & Portugal. Long term, I’m planning on returning to North American in the fall of 2017 and from there continuing to head west until we’re in Northeast Asia, Japan and South Korea, where we will settle for a bit. But now, my future lies not in NY or even Europe, but back to the water, where at night, when the winds die down, there is no noise, only the silence of the universe. I feel like I am at home, finally.

5 thoughts on “A Few City of New York Thoughts”

  1. Thank you Richard for sharing your interesting perspective and “Dauntless” experiences. Funny, the pic you have of Sunset Park from the 80’s—it is actually 6th Avenue, not 6th Street. We lived just to the left in the pic—-we had just been burnt out of our previous apartment in Sunset Park and then moved next to these burntout buildings. The Tag on the building is “La Familia” a gang from Sunset Park at that time. Brought back memories!

  2. The one with the burntout, wheel-less, bullet-ridden cars above is Sunset Park. Sometimes they used to light the cars on fire and my Pop and I would watch from our window. Some of the many street gangs were La Familia, Assassinators, Turban Saints, Dirty Ones. Richard, have you ever sailed by the West Coast of Ireland? Innishlackan is one of the many beautiful little islands, just off the coast of Connemara.

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