Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My New York City Adventure: Part 4, The Brooklyn Bridge

After the Groom's Dance and a quick bagel, Tom and I started on our trek to Brooklyn. But before we landed there, Tom wanted to take a few pictures of the Brill Building somewhere near Times Square. You would think that since we are reasonably educated people we would have the address of the building. We didn't have the address, but Tom remembered seeing it on the red bus tour that we took four or five years ago. This was the only thing that Tom mentioned that he wanted to do while in New York, and I knew it was the least I could do because he was carrying my equipment and was going to help me find that park to the north of the Brooklyn Bridge. He vaguely remembered it being about a block from where we got off the bus. So as soon as we found the red buses, believe it or not, we found the Brill Building.

The following article on the Brill Building was found at:

The Brill Building…("Tin Pan Alley")
1619 Broadway, in the heart of New York’s music district, is a building that changed the course of popular music history.
The Brill Building (named after the Brill Brothers, whose clothing store was originally located in the street level corner and who would later purchase the entire building), was completed in 1931 and intended to house the offices of brokers and bankers. The owners were obliged by a deepening Depression to rent space to music publishers, since there were few other takers. By 1962, the Brill Building contained 165 music businesses.
Here you could write a song, hire the musicians, cut a demo, and take it around the building to record companies, publishers, managers, artists and promoters. To this day, some refer to the building and its environs as “Tin Pan Alley”, though others insist the famed district was only West 28th Street between 6th Avenue and Broadway.
Famous Brill Building musicians and songwriters include Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Carole King, Hal David, Burt Bacharach, Neil Sedaka, Paul Anka, Eric Clapton, Jim Croce,
Bobby Darin, John Denver, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Howard Greenfield, Billy Joel, Johnny Mercer, Kris Kristofferson, John Lennon, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, Paul Simon, and James Taylor.
To appreciate the tremendous effect these and other Brill Building denizens had on American popular culture, one has only to scan the play list of the popular radio and television program, Your Hit Parade. Of the 1,278 songs performed by the show’s cast throughout its run from 1935 to 1958, 404 songs, approximately one third, originated with Brill Building publishers.

We did really brilliant things that day, starting with getting off the PATH train at 33rd street and walking ten blocks north to Times Square when we could have changed trains, but we didn't want to wait. Then we began looking for a bathroom. Went into a hotel that was in the middle of renovations thinking that we would walk right into the lobby and find a restroom. Wrong. Then went into the Best Western, walked right past the concierge as if we were staying there, found the restroom but didn't have a key. Finally went into a pizza restaurant, ordered a coke and went to the restroom. Then walked a few more blocks to find the subway to Brooklyn.

When we finally got on the subway, the conductor, who could have cared less if anyone understood him because it sounded like he was sucking down the microphone, announced that the High Street Station was closed and we would have to get off at Jay Street and transfer and on and on. I only halfway listened, but Tom, who is almost deaf, did. Thank goodness. We could have wound up at Coney Island if we had to depend on me. I wasn't an auditory learner, but I can hear; I just don't listen. Makes sense.
To continue, we did get off at Jay Street and, believe it or not, we were around the corner from a Marriott where Janie and I had stayed a year ago. I remembered that the Brooklyn Bridge was several blocks down the street, so we started walking. It's really an optical illusion when you are walking towards the bridge because you aren't really looking at the Brooklyn Bridge, it's the Manhattan becomes clear as you approach it. You really have to be there to understand what I'm trying to say. Anyway, we had a Google map in hand and tried to follow the streets. The map was emailed to me by a girl named Karyn, who has a blog under the name of Pretty in the City. We had one million arguments during that walk. Tom was right about the directions. He's a stickler for following the map, and I wanted to follow the crowd. I just figured that they were all coming or going to the park. This area in Brooklyn is called Dumbo, Down (or directly) Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. It reminded me of some areas in Boston. Quaint. Cute shops and restaurants. But we couldn't stop. Had to keep going. Had to get THE SHOT. On the way we passed the famous pizza restaurant, Grimaldi's, where you wait in line outside for hours. Really. We kept going.

At about 5:30 we reached the park. I was so disappointed because the shot I wanted would be impossible without having access to a rooftop. That was until we changed positions and got closer to the bridge. As usual I took a million shots. Poor Tom, who was totally exhausted and starving, sat patiently on the park bench for over an hour. Several of the images turned out pretty good. I haven't had time to photoshop them yet, so I'll have to post them without enhancements.

The park closed at 7:00, just as the lights were coming on. I wish we could have stayed later, but I didn't want to get arrested. That's just me. So we packed up the equipment and began our trip back to New Jersey. Being the Sunday before Labor Day, we didn't think there would be that many people riding the trains. Wrong again.
I will spare you the horrid details of our return trip to the hotel. Let's just say that the subway stations were crowded and hot, very hot. We got up close and personal with many of our friends from New Jersey. Needless to say, we were late in meeting Nancy, Bill, Janie and Dennis for the "cocktail party" that I planned.
What a day! Starting with the Groom's Dance and ending with the Brooklyn Bridge it was an adventure that I will never forget, and I know Tom won't!

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