For a person who doesn’t know New York and the area, DUMBO is just a strange-sounding word. I was in the same situation until I went into a rabbit hole, read everything I could find about it, and got the chance to visit it.
In this article, I will share everything I have learned about DUMBO during my research and visit.
We will see what DUMBO stands for, Where it is located, How to get to DUMBO, How DUMBO got its name and the history behind it, What to do in DUMBO, and the Food Scenery.
Buckle up because it is going to be a long ride!
What does DUMBO stand for?
DUMBO stands for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.” This place is a waterside neighborhood in Brooklyn, right below the Manhattan Bridge. It is jammed in between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Vinegar Hill neighborhood.
This area got its name in the 1970s, but the name, along with the region, became more known in the 1990s. We will see about this more later.
Where is DUMBO located?
DUMBO is located in the Northeast of Brooklyn. It is right across the lower Manhattan river and north of Brooklyn Heights.
The name DUMBO perfectly describes the place’s location, as some part of the neighborhood is located right under the Manhattan bridge.
How did DUMBO get named?
Dumbo is not a beautiful name for a place that looks so magnificent, but there is a history of how DUMBO got its name.
We are going to explore that now, so let us get started!
So back in the 1970s, the now DUMBO area was gaining a lot of attention from developers who wanted to reconstruct the site and change the mood of the place.
But residents and tenants, who were primarily artists, didn’t want the place’s ambiance to be lost. Hence they started to look for unattractive names that won’t fit any image the developers had in mind for the area.
They tried to protect their site by trying and naming it weird. And that’s how the historical “let’s name our area protest” came about.
Though the mission the residents and tenants of DUMBO had didn’t really succeed, and the redevelopment of the area was never really stopped, they still got to name the place.
There were two names that were up for the last choice:
- District Around the Navy Yard Annex (DANYA)
- Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass (DUMBO)
Dumbo won the voting with a considerable gap, not giving any chance to the other choices. Which gave the residents and tenants a little hope that the name, DUMBO, might still have the potential to make the developers turn away. But that never really happened!
History of DUMBO
The DUMBO area didn’t look the way it does now a few decades back.
In the 1970s, in the DUMBO area, the residents, the manufacturers, tradespeople, and others were surrounded by the BQE, Fulton street, and the navy yard.
In the north was the navy yard. This place had a few community homes that started to diminish with the expansion of the navy yard. In the South was the Fulton Street.
The significant residents in this area were tradesmen. Their biggest concern is traffic problems in the area.
Then there are people between the two bridges, Manhattan and Brooklyn. This area mainly had several concrete buildings, which were used for various purposes. One of those purposes was for living.
These buildings were primarily occupied by manufacturers on the lower floors, as they own the buildings. And then we have the “illegal” tenants, who occupied the upper floors of these concrete buildings.
These tenants were the group of people who later would take part in naming the area DUMBO to keep it from the redevelopment.
To give a little back story, back in the 1960s, the owners of these buildings, the manufacturers, were having trouble getting tenants for their facilities. No one wanted to rent the place because of its old construction, wall, and floor.
And most importantly, these six floored buildings only had one tiny shared elevator, and the manufacturers couldn’t move their things with them without waiting a while for a turn.
Hence why they occupied the lower floors. And no manufacturer tenant wanted to get the upper floors for the same reason.
But during that time, there was a shortage of living space in the city, as many wanted to live closer to their workplaces.
This was when the government introduced the concrete buildings as the Live / Workspace, specifically for certified artists. Following the program, the area became popular with artists, who would become the significant tenants as time went on.
But a problem arose when non-certified artists and other workers started renting the place with fake certifications. Whenever this happens, owners would kick out the tenants and rent the place out for a pricy amount.
When the government observed the situation, they came up with the “Loft Law,” which helped calm the inflation of rent in the area.
Finally, in the 1990s, manufacturing in the area started to die. As a result, the empty manufacturing spaces were later changed into residential areas, which led to the birth of the DUMBO structure we know today.
How to get to DUMBO
There are numerous options to get to DUMBO. You can take the subway, the bus, or a taxi, and you can drive too, or even use a water taxi.
Let us see all of them one by one:
Subway: using the subway, you have several options: the A / C train to the High Street, the 2 / 3 to Clark Street, or the F train to York Street.
Bus: if you choose to ride a bus, you can take the B25 bus, which stops at the Fulton Ferry landing. One thing to be careful about is that this bus only operates in Brooklyn.
Water taxi: To use the water taxi to get to DUMBO, you have to hop on to the East River Ferry. This water taxi transports between Manhattan and Brooklyn.
By a Car: Dumbo is an easy drive from different parts of New York, so it is a good option.
If you are coming from Manhattan, you can use a bike to ride across the bridge to get to DUMBO.
Once you get to DUMBO, everything is a nearby walking distance. But if you prefer to explore by bike, there are several bicycle renting stations in the area.
What to do in DUMBO Brooklyn
Dumbo is one of the best areas in Brooklyn to visit and explore. It is one of the most exciting areas to spend a day as there are many things to do. From the most historical area to the hippest place, DUMBO has it all.
Let us see some of the things that you can explore in DUMBO and some activities:
1. Brooklyn Bridge Park
334 Furman St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, United States
The list of things that you can do at Brooklyn Bridge Park is literally endless. But let us start with the 6 NYC piers.
The 1st pier is excellent for the skyline view of manhattan.
The 2nd pier is the place for any physical activities and games. It has different sports courts and equipment.
The 3rd pier is for nature lovers. Covered in green, it is one of the best places in Brooklyn for a picnic.
The 4th pier is the beach. The beach only allows manual boats, which are much safer and can be enjoyed by many.
The 5th pier has three soccer fields and a fishing station.
The last pier has a beach volleyball court and the governers island ferry.
The other thing to explore in the Brooklyn Bridge Park is Empire Fulton Ferry. This ferry has the perfect landing, as it lands on the Empire’s lawn between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges.
This place is the area for the St. Ann’s Warehouse and Jane’s Carousel. This Ferry is the oldest ferry between Brooklyn and Manhattan. It started its service back in the 1600s.
The Brooklyn Bridge Park has the best bicycle riding and dog walking streets as well.
2. Air Gallery
155 Plymouth Street Brooklyn, NY 11201
Phone: 212- 255- 6651
Air gallery is the first all-women artist-directed in the country. It was first founded by twenty women aiming to help women showcase their artworks. Air Gallery is now a place where hundreds of women display their art.
This Gallery also helps underprivileged women bring their paintings and engage all from different backgrounds and times.
Besides the showcases, the gallery also gives lectures on feminism.
3. Dumbo Walls
DUMBO Brooklyn, NY 11201
Dumbo walls are the Instagram spot in DUMBO. The famous DUMBO walls are the place for pictures if you visit DUMBO. This art on the wall culture started because of the collaboration between the NYC Transportation Urban Art program and the Two Tree Management Company.
Many renowned artists have participated in these different wall arts. To be more specific, eight artists from other areas came together to honor the DUMBO artists and left their imprints on the wall DUMBO at Time Out Market.
4. St. Ann‘s Warehouse
St. Ann’s Warehouse
Brooklyn Bridge Park | 45 Water Street, DUMBO BKLYN
St. Ann’s Warehouse is found at the historical Tobacco warehouse, which has brought theater into the area, a newer addition to DUMBO.
This place was not originally here; the area was renovated, and St. Ann Warehouse was relocated to this place. The 19thce Tobacco house was renovated into a 21thce theater, and that’s the story the name tells.
This place was opened in 2015, and it has a variety of performances from the theater to live music and even dance.
There are also brick patios built around the area open-air and are just the perfect place to melt into the scenery.
5. Jane‘s Carousel
Jane’s Carousel, New Dock St,
Brooklyn, NY 11201, United States
Jane’s carousel is the best thing to try for all ages in DUMBO. It is located right alongside Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Jane’s carousel is 100 years old now, installed in1922, and one of the oldest carousels on the National Register of Historic Places.
A ride only costs $2, and if you go there, often there is a discount.
6. Time Out Market
Time Out Market New York, Empire Stores,
55 Water Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201
You can’t miss out on this place while visiting DUMBO.
Time Out Market is the biggest marketplace in DUMBO. This place has 21 eateries, bars, and outdoor terraces. All this can be found in one place, which is 21,000 Sqr. Ft wide.
The Time out Market opened in mid-2019 and is said to have one of the best eateries and bars in Brooklyn and even New York. Many compliments the reasonable pricing too.
Also, if you are wondering how it got its name, the popular Times magazine is in the area.
With good weather, the open-air terrace, the view, the entertainment, and the comfortable set is to die for.
7. PowerHouse Arena
28 Adams Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Dumbo, one of the reasons we say DUMBO has it all is because of the variety of options it has for everyone. And PowerHouse Arena is a living statement for that.
PowerHouse Arena is a go-to place for any bookworm people. This place was opened back in 2006 with the publisher PoweHouse Books.
PowerHouse Arena has everything when it comes to books, from fictional books to personal development books, lifestyle books, and many more. Also, they have one of the best children’s books sections.
PowerHouse Arena is also known for its jewelry, stationery, and artifacts collections and also for its gifts shop, besides the books.
8. Empire Stores
55 Water St.
Brooklyn, NY 11201
The Empire Stores have been standing, holding on to the histories they have within them since the 1860s.
It was in a horrible state as it was abandoned for a long time. But with the help of the NYC government, a decision was made to renovate it.
The renovation started in 2013, it took four years, and the empire stores opened to the public in 2017. This has made it one of the last warehouses to be standing for more than a century.
The Empire Stores have become a place for different eateries, bars, and shops. Also, it has become a place for the Time Out Market and the Brooklyn Historical Society.
9. Aegir BoardWorks
99 Water Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Aegir Boards is one of the few skate and surf shops in New York. Though it might raise the question of “a surf and skateboard shop in New York?” Aegir Boards have had a significant impact in the area.
Aegir BoardWorks also gives skateboard lessons during after-work hours and on the weekends. In addition to that, they also provide repair and refurbishing services for surfers.
10. AD ASTRA
145 Front Street Brooklyn, New York 11201
Phone: (347) 526-4245
If you are a jewelry fanatic, this is a place for you. With handcrafted jewelry pieces and reasonable prices, AD ASTRA is a trendsetter place.
The immaculate collection of jewelry pieces, AD ASTRA, is one of the must-see places in DUMBO, Brooklyn.
DUMBO‘s Food Scene
The food scene in Dumbo Brooklyn is by itself a rich culture itself. The variety of food ranges from street food to fine dining. The eateries in the Time Out Market are also a great addition to the food scene.
Though there are several restaurants in the area, we will try to explore some of the available options:
1. Los Tacos Al Pastor:
141 Front St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
If you are craving Mexican food while exploring the beauty of DUMBO, Los Tacos Al pastor has you covered. You will immediately be provided with an authentic Mexican palate.
Los tacos Al Pastor have a various selection of food ranging from different cuts of pork, chicken, and various dishes for their vegetarian customer as well.
It is located in Ferry Fulton landing, which places it in a great location to grab a quick bite during your tour of DUMBO.
15 Main St Brooklyn, NY 11201
This is one of the fine dining places in Dumbo. Atrium’s platter is mainly from the southern part of the united states, one of the reasons why many refer to it as the American Restaurant. But they also have vegetarian and vegan options.
It is a very hip yet warm and very high-energy restaurant. Atrim has a view of the Brooklyn Bridge and the water in front, which adds to the enhancement of the ambiance in the restaurant.
The atrium was also voted one of the best places for brunch in DUMBO.
3. Luke‘s Lobster
11 Water St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, United States
Luke’s Lobster is one of the few seafood places in the Brooklyn Bridge Area and DUMBO. They use the local fisherman catches as an input; Luke’s Lobster has different seafood options such as lobster, crab, shrimp rolls, and others.
Luke’s Lobster was founded by Luke, who has done a fantastic job bringing different tastes from Manie to different parts of the world. Besides Dumbo, Luke’s Lobster has two other branches in New York and many across the united states.
Luke’s Lobster was also voted as New Yorks’s best lobster roll.
4. Shake Shack
2 Water Street
On the Corner of Old Fulton and Water Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
From the variety of options that we are exploring, from Mexican to fine dining and from seafood, now we have gotten to fast food.
One of the fast-food franchises in dumbo is shake-shack; we don’t have to say much about shake-shack since it is very well known.
It’s simple, an ideal place for a cheeseburger and soda. Shake shack in dumbo also offers beer and wine.
55 Water St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, United States
Cecconi’s is a classic Italian place in DUMBO with a fantastic water view in front.
This place specializes in hand-made pasta, pizza, and other Italian-based food, and in addition, they also serve seafood.
Cecconi’s has branches all over the world and as they say, bringing that taste to DUMBO and recreating it with the local product is what feels like a reward.
6. One Girl Cookies
33 Main St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, United States
One Girl Cookies is one of the best cafes in the DUMBO area. They have various selections of pastry and cakes.
Their location in Dumbo is the other thing that makes them favored. Situated right in front of the waterfall, One Girl Cookies is in an ideal location to enjoy some sweets and coffee; They also have wine and beer if it is to your liking.
One girl cookies have different menus for breakfast and lunch, so check it out when you visit DUMBO.
DUMBO is one of the main tourist attraction areas in Brooklyn and New York. And it is all because of how the past, the history of the place, is not lost and is still maintained in such a hip area it has grown to become.
Also, the variety of activities you can take on is the other reason. In DUMBO, there is something for everyone!
This has been DUMBO, everyone! Thank you for exploring DUMBO with us. If you have found an interest in DUMBO or just learned something after reading this piece, please let us know in the comments below.
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