DUMBO is a Brooklyn neighborhood of stately 19th-century warehouses that have been converted to offices and high-end condos. Its name is an acronym that stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. The neighborhood got this title in the 1970s, when artists moved into its vacant industrial spaces — they adopted a name that some residents hoped would keep gentrification at bay. But the area’s proximity to Lower Manhattan and old-timey atmosphere, including cobblestone streets, proved to be irresistible. Developers came, the artists are long gone and DUMBO real estate is now more expensive than in many areas of Manhattan. Office buildings are full of tech and social media start-ups. At lunchtime on weekdays, young, hip Brooklynites form lines at Almondine, reBar, Forager’s Market and the food trucks on Front Street. Commuters and tourists often seem to outnumber residents. This is particularly true outside Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, where the pies are regularly hailed as the city’s best. Nearby, at Grimaldi’s original address (19 Old Fulton Street), Juliana’s has shorter lines and also serves excellent pizza.
DUMBO, bounded by the East River and Bridge, York and Old Fulton Streets, is easily accessible from Manhattan. The Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges converge over DUMBO’s streets; both have pedestrian and bike paths. The F train stops nearby at York Street. Many visitors make a beeline for Pier One in Brooklyn Bridge Park, a waterfront green space with stunning views of the river, the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan’s skyscrapers. In the warmer months, the park is regularly mobbed. Locals sunbathe, read books and practice yoga on the grassy lawns, jog on the running paths or take advantage of the Brooklyn Bridge Boathouse’s free, first-come-first-serve boating activities. A playground with equipment for younger children and Jane’s Carousel, a meticulously restored 1922 amusement housed in a glass box, attracts families. On Sundays, hipsters visit the historic Tobacco Warehouses on for the Smorgasburg local food market. The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is located on a fireboat docked at the Fulton Ferry Pier. The River Café is a romantic dinner destination. Note that many park activities are seasonal. Some attractions, notably the River Café, were damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and have been slow to reopen.
Although there are bars and restaurants, Dumbo isn’t known as a nightlife destination. Even on Front Street, the neighborhood’s main drag, cabs are sparse after dark. During the day, it’s safe to veer off to explore side streets — you’ll find to the occasional art gallery or furniture showroom as well as some empty lots and other remnants of DUMBO’s grittier past. At nighttime, the neighborhood can feel deserted.