Literary DUMBO: An Afternoon Walk Under the Bridges in Search of Books

Along with the possibilities of ice cream, chocolate, drinks at reBar, lying down on green grass and views of two bridges and Manhattan, this book-oriented walk has added perks. Throw in a beautiful day, and I can't think of a better quick escape than a jaunt to this area of waterfront Brooklyn. A photogenic neighborhood comprised of converted warehouses and new construction, DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) also appeals to fans of heavy infrastructure and engineering. These bridges look tough from underneath, and you definitely hope they are.

My blogger friend Rob (see his terrific book-loving site, RobAroundBooks) clued me to the existence of Melville House, a publisher of quality books that is now housed on Plymouth Street at the intersection with Pearl in DUMBO, and I've been wanting to get over there for a long time. Rob, who is based in Scotland and knows about quality literature, had written about their line of novellas, one of my favorite literary genres, so I took advantage of the nice weather to visit the bookstore and to explore nearby attractions.

View Literary DUMBO in a larger map

After leaving the F train at the York stop, I headed down Jay Street to Plymouth Street, turned left and soon found Melville House and its books. I'm not accustomed to so much natural light in a bookstore, so it took a few minutes to adjust my eyes. Their books are indeed lovely objects to hold in the hand, and their novellas, most all by well-known authors and designed with clean vibrant colors, are nicely chosen. I decided on a Joseph Conrad tale, "Freya of the Seven Isles," partially because the proximity of the water had me yearning for a tale of the high seas.

Later on the walk, I came across The powerHouse Arena, a sprawling space devoted to quality photography and art books, special exhibitions, and other printed objects that was stunningly awash in light. Another stop in DUMBO for book lovers, especially those interested in art books and rare finds, is the P.S. Bookshop.

By all means, head to the Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park to hang out, admire the bridges and look back at Manhattan. Everything about DUMBO suggests genres of photography - landscape, industrial, or in the case of the park, the wide-screen panorama. Nearby are well-known landmarks such as the exquisite Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory and one of the best-known pizzas in the city (or world) with Grimaldi's. On Front Street, find one of the coolest bar/coffee/gastropubs you'll ever see at reBar, a multi-level affair that welcomes single types with their laptops as well as more boisterous groups.

The walk is only about one mile.

Images: Melville House (interior, top), powerHouse (exterior, middle), and the Manhattan Bridge (below), from April 16, 2009 by Walking Off the Big Apple. See many more images from the walk in a set at Flickr WOTBA.

Related Post (nearby):
A Walk in Willowtown to the Future Brooklyn Bridge Park

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