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The 4 Awesomest Brooklyn Parks and Their Most Awesomest Upcoming Events.

With Spring officially sprung, its time to head outdoors!

Everyone knows about Central Park and Battery Park, but with more than 1700 parks in the Five Boroughs of NYC, there’s GOTTA be more options. So we created this list of four of our favorite Brooklyn Parks and their upcoming events, each more awesomer than the rest.

Prospect Park

What else can you say about the crowning achievement from the men who built Central Park? With a grand entrance that hosts the biggest farmers market in Brooklyn, Prospect Park also boasts the longest, uninterrupted lawn in the country, a weekly drum circle made up by the 3rd largest Caribbean population in the world, a world-class free concert series every summer, a historic Dutch farmhouse with free events every weekend, and a historic, century-old carousel, it should be crystal clear who the winner is in the Central vs. Prospect Park-off.

If you’re still not sure, PLEASE read this awesomely written throwdown between two NY Times park enthusiasts.

Next up: The Great GoogaMooga on Saturday May 19th and Sunday May 20th. Get your groove-on at this weekend-long outdoor festival, celebrating food, music and Prospect Park!  There will be some fantastic bands throughout the weekend as well as food stands run by some of the best restaurants and eateries in the City!

Owl’s Head Park

One of Brooklyn’s best-kept secrets is in Bay Ridge: Owl’s Head Park has a breathtaking view of NY Harbor. There’s a dog run, lots of grassy hills and Brooklyn’s first skate park.

And don’t get us started on the history: Swaen Janse, a freed slave from  Sweden came to New Amsterdam in 1654 and purchased the land that became the park. One of the founding fathers of the Dutch Village of Breuckelen lived on the land as well; Senator Henry Cruise Murphy drafted the Brooklyn Bridge construction bill and also was a proud founder of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (which predates the New York Times by ten years.) But in order for this private property to become public land, it took a civic Brooklynite – Eliphalet Bliss, a wealthy manufacturer – to buy the Murphy estate and on his deathbed, offer the land to the City of New York (at a discount) with the stipulation that it be used as parkland.

Next up: Viking Fest 2012 on Saturday May 19th from Noon to 5PM. Come see reenactment groups, Viking ships, combat demos, polish folk dance, Middle Eastern percussionists. Get in early because an authentic Norwegian band will be performing at noon sharp!

Brooklyn Bridge Park

It’s always been clear that New York City is a place of constant transformation, and for good reason. The entire 18th century and the first half of the 19th were golden ages for the working waterfront – NYC was the trading, shipping and manufacturing hub of the world. Along comes containerization, and the waterfront got abandoned and destroyed.

However, in the last decade a new transformation has been taking place where a 1.3 mile ribbon of parkland along the East River has been renamed Brooklyn Bridge Park. Once completed, it will eventually link up to Fulton State Park under the Manhattan Bridge, and boast kayaking, floating pathways, fishing piers, waterside handball and basketball courts in coming months to years! In the meantime, a number of piers are open. Pier 1 is particularly poppin’ with a waterfront promenade, salt marsh, a sloping lawn, and dramatic granite steps recycled from the Roosevelt Island Bridge.

Next up: Funk Dance Party! Thursday, May 10th, 7PM. Feel like funkin’ it up? At this show you gotta Go-Go to get down. Chuck Brown is the innovator behind the Go-Go scene of the 70’s and he’s about to bring funk, R&B and hip-hop together to show you what it’s all about. Don’t miss the DJ opener, Rich Medina, as he brings you on a sonic journey through hip-hop, house, Afrobeat, funk and soul.

Marine Park

A true hidden gem, a trip into Marine Park is a trip into the wild. Sure, Central Park was designed as a park in which to get lost, but Marine Park’s 530 acres has got wide expanses of salt marsh, meadows and sand dunes. Get your mind away from the city by traversing thickets of shrubs, vines and beach plants.  All this explorin’ has made us hungry! Good thing Joe’s of Avenue U has killer Italian heros. Utilize the knowledge of Park Rangers who can point out the 325 different kinds of birds, 50 species of butterfly and the occasional rabbit or hawk. All this nature and history too: in a recent archaeological dig, the excavators discovered food preparation pits dating back to the 9th century!

It’s a good thing Marine Park remained a wildlife preserve because it almost got developed out of existence: a real estate boom saw speculators developing a Rockaway channel to allow large ships to enter a proposed manmade harbor. Thanks to Alfred T. White, Brooklyn philathropist offered the city 150 acres in the area for parkland. Over the next 60 years a number of transactions quadrupled the land available for a nature preserve, but we’ve got to thank the godfather of attractive affordable housing for starting the trend.


Next up: Family Camping on Saturday June 9th at 6PM. Who says that you can’t camp in the city?  Take your kids and enjoy a night surrounded by nature and the Urban Park Rangers!  Families are chosen through a lottery system, so make sure to sign up for the lottery before May 30th.  Dinner is provided.

By Jonah Levy

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The Bronx – Yes, Thonx!

Let a native Bronxite take you to some of the most picturesque and interesting neighborhoods and sites in the Bronx.

The outside of the Andrew Freeman Home.

When you say “The Bronx” to any non-NYer, the first thing they think of is The Yankees. Fair ’nuff.

The second thing they think is gangs, drugs, and arson. Because from the 1970′s through the mid-80′s, the Bronx was synonymous with urban collapse and wide-scale destruction. Slumlords realized that instead of collecting rent from their working-class tenants, they could burn down their buildings and collect the more profitable insurance. Legendary sports announcer Howard Cosell epitomized The Bronx’s problems when he proclaimed “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning,” during Game 2 of the Yankees-Dodgers World Series, when a TV camera showed an abandoned building, up in flames, to the country and world.

Mark grew up in the Tremont neighborhood of The Bronx, just a few blocks from Yankee Stadium and he remembers being at that game. His folks (including legendary Gramma) were part of the middle & white working class flight from The Bronx. Luckily, they were sophisticated and progressive, so instead of moving to the ‘burbs like the middle class, or Co-op City like the working class, they landed in the liberal Upper West Side.

Jimmy Carter in the South Bronx, 1977.

The Bronx has had an inspiring, uphill climb since ’77.  Thomas Wolfe depicted it as hell on earth in his novel (and the subsequent film) Bonfire of the Vanities. It became a standard campaign stop for politicians expressing their concern about urban problems; Jimmy Carter’s visit to Charlotte Street in ’77 was a turning point.

The Bronx started to rebound since then and is now having an all-star comeback. You read about it in the newspapers, you hear about it on the radio, and your eyes pop out of your head when you check the dollar signs on formerly derelict neighborhoods. SoBro anyone? Another marker of a neighborhood’s ascendancy – large-scale art projects, which Jonah, good buddy Josh Bernstein and I checked out last Wednesday night.

Crowds and crowds aim for art.

Brilliant mural by Daze.

This Side of Paradise is an awesome and massively expansive art installation inside the first two floors of an abandoned retirement home, the Andrew Freeman House, at 1125 Grand Concourse. Built as a gorgeous Neo-Renaissance palazzo-cum-old age home for formerly wealthy New Yorkers who shouldn’t have to suffer the indignities of living in anything less than opulence.  The building itself had fallen on hard times in the 70s, but was recently revitalized by No Longer Empty, a vibrant community organization that uses old and abandoned spaces to showcase art and activities for neighborhood residents.

An awesome upside down installation.

Check the perspective on this room-size installation

The place was jammin! There must’ve been five thousand people there the hour we spent wandering the halls, checking out the art, engaging the community and marveling at the building’s faded glory. The crowd was gorgeous – multi-culti, multi-ethnic, old, young, black, white, fashionable, dorky, excited to be in a relic from history looking at art from the present and catching glimpses of the future. Fine art, graffiti art, installation, performance, sculpture, video, reconfigured rooms, you name it, it was goin’ down. The entire production was awesome and awe-inspiring. The exhibit is up til June 2nd, and there are tons of events through the end of the show. Any excuse to prove that The Bronx is lookin’ up is good by us!

PS:  Quiz Time, hotshots: Why is it called The Bronx? Nobody goes to The Brooklyn or The Queens!?

Put your answer below in the Comments! Best answer gets a LUNY tshirt mailed to them!

By Matt Levy

Let a native Bronxite take you to some of the most picturesque and interesting neighborhoods and sites in the Bronx.

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