My continuing quest to see everything in New York City

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Friday, March 20, 2009

East Flatbush

A lot of times a walk's just a walk, and not really through an interesting area to boot. Most of my time doing this project isn't spent walking fun places like tunnels and bridge tops. Still, they're part the city also, and I've made a commitment to myself to write them up too. But don't expect too much if it isn't labeled "interesting" or "favorite." It's mostly for myself.

A few of these nondescript walks lately have been through East Flatbush. Flatbush Avenue has always been kind of a demographic dividing line in New York - Downtown Brooklyn from Ft. Green, Crown Heights (or Prospect Heights, depending on what year it is) from Park Slope. As this line fades north of Prospect Park, it remains to its south. The bustling Caribbean neighborhoods by Church Avenue, the shabby old Victorians of Ditmas Park, the hodgepodge immigrant area by Newkirk, the neat rows of houses of the Orthodox Jews in the lettered avenues, all of this generally gives way to a kind of nondescript, somewhat rundown area once you get east of Flatbush Avenue that I have yet to find anything interesting is, or even get a real feel for at all. I haven't yet walked all of East Flatbush, so maybe this will change, or maybe it's just been the moods I've been in on the walks. Holy Cross cemetary (a pretty standard Catholic cemetary) is the only thing that really breaks it up. The end of the neighborhood is also home to the oldest house in New York, which is worth a visit.

Neighborhoods: East Flatbush. Tracts walked: BK 788, BK 790, BK 792, BK794, BK 824, BK826, BK 828, BK830, BK832, BK834, BK838, BK840, BK846, BK848, BK850, BK852, BK854, BK856, BK936, BK942.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Alligators in the Sewers?

Here's my episode of Monster Quest on the History Channel. I edited it down to just the parts I'm in (about 4 minutes), with the exception of the first frame of the cute zookeeper straddling an alligator. Had to leave that one in.

This is mostly me and my friend Shane explaining how storm drains work. Shane is the one filming the sewer expedition, and is the disembodied voice you sometimes hear.

Just to clarify, there are no alligators in the sewers - at least, not more than the fluke handful of discarded pets that have been in the hundreds of miles of the system over the last several decades. Despite what I say on TV to try and sound somewhat responsible, you don't really need an air meter in a 12-foot-deep trunk drain. I haven't been exploring storm drains for 10 years - that was probably only my 3rd or 4th trip draining - and wouldn't really call myself an underground expert (or "urban explorer," which they kept calling me, but there's not a lot you can do about that particular label anymore).   And I'm wearing a shirt and tie because I had just come from work.

The whole thing was a lot of fun. And of course, I got in another couple census tracts while doing this, but I can't tell you which ones.