I did it again, the non tipping thing. This time it was on Tuesday, during our street tour. It was only yesterday once we had completed a tour of Brooklyn and our fellow walkers showered our guide in 20 dollar bills that Irealised. It was his business partner we met on Tuesday and I politely thanked him with an almighty shake of the hand then walked away. I’m so ashamed, they should warn you of these circumstances, they should write a guide book. We have another tour today, Greenwich Village, I really want to go, I’m forcing myself and plucking up courage to go ahead with the arranged plans and to whole heartedly apologise for my lack of curtesy, rudeness and inability of thought at times. I will obviously make it up to him with a big fat tip at the end of the tour and I might even give my first trip advisor review just to put my mind at ease.
I guess I never expected Brooklyn to be so beautiful, it has Manhattan charm with more space therefore feeling less claustrophobic. We visited the area of DUMBO, which stands for Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass.
During the turn of 20th Century DUMBO was predominantly industrial, a manufacturing area with factories that made paper, paper boxes, Brillo pads and the cardboard box was invented in Robert Gair’s factory by Robert Gair himself, a Scottish immigrant who became so famous for his work in the area, it was named Gairsville for a very long time. The Gair’s building is now occupied by Etsy.
In the late 1970’s the factories started to develop into residential spaces and were occupied by artists looking for a lot of space with a limited amount of money. The acronym DUMBO arose when said artists wanted to come up with a name for their new abode, a name which would deter developers. Their plan worked as the area served mainly as an enclave for artists right up until the end of the 20th century. With perfect views across the Manhattan skyline It is now one of the most expensive places to stay in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn Heights, an area filled with picturesque townhouses, painted in an array of muted colours felt safe and inviting. A house once inhabited by Truman Capote, where we had written Breakfast at Tiffany’s has just sold in this area for over thirty two million dollars, the yellow painted townhouse has eleven bedrooms and was undergoing renovation when we passed.
We ended the tour on Fulton Ferry Pier outside the famous Brooklyn Ice-cream Factory and Ruby and I decided to walk the Brooklyn Bridge back.
The Brooklyn Bridge looms majestically over New York City’s East River, linking the two boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. The building of the bridge has quite a story to tell it’s self as John Roebling a German engineer with a reputation in designing suspension bridges was commissioned in 1867 by New York legislators to build the very first steel suspension bridge. Just before construction began in 1869, Roebling was fatally injured while taking a few final compass readings across the East River. A boat smashed the toes on one of his feet, and three weeks later he died of tetanus. Washington, Roebling’s son took over his fathers plans and construction until tragically Washington himself contracted “caisson disease” or “the bends”: excruciating joint pain, paralysis, convulsions, numbness, speech impediments and, in some cases, death. The bends would occur from inhalation of compressed air in underwater chambers used to carry workers down to the river bed in order to lay foundations of the bridge. Paralysed and bed ridden in a room looking over the East River, Washington continued to oversee the completion of the bridge, and construction was now in the hands of his capable wife Emily and the bridge was spectacularly unveiled in 1883. Emily emphasising that behind every good man there is a great women.
I’m always completely honest so I have no concern in telling you that I hated walking the bridge. I have never known myself to suffer vertigo but I do and no one bloody told me the floor was wooden. The slats were not even one centimetre apart but I spent the whole journey completely paranoid my phone, my sunglasses or even Ruby would fall through. I seen the waves splashing underneath and the wind frantically whipped my hair around my face, those idiotic travellers on bikes, rattled the slats and just in front of us protesters marched heavily waving banners in the air and banging their big feet on the fragile surface. The only bit I enjoyed was the concrete at the end, a beautiful bridge in which I don’t plan to walk over again.
Bowery is by far my favourite street in Manhattan, from Union Square to Bleecker Street. I’m a punk and I feel at home, I picture myself outside CBGB’s and try to imagine what it would have been like to be part of such a prolific scene. From the smells as you stroll through Chinatown to the repair shops, the newly renovated coffee outlets to the colourful graffiti and street art, the Bowery hasn’t lost it’s vibe.
There is a great spot on the corner of Bowery and Spring, we stopped for photos when a passer-by commented that Ruby was cute. I politely thanked her and continued to take photos of my beautiful daughter pulling her best punk pose, behind her a building thick in colourful graffiti. The women patiently waited until our shoot was done and introduced herself as a model scout looking for kids to model in campaigns for Tommy Hilfiger, Gap and Uniqlo. I have mixed feelings about putting Ruby forward for such work, the last thing I would wish was for my child is to feel exploited, on the other hand I would not want to hinder what may be a successful career. We discussed my concerns and having kids of her own she completely related to where I was coming from. I have her card and we will discuss options and opportunities when we are home. Continuing our Bowery path I chatted with Ruby about what would be involved if it was a path she would like to take.
We arrived at Patricia Field’s House of Field, which is by far one of the coolest shops in NYC. We were greeted by none other than Patricia Field herself…
‘Patricia Field is a native New Yorker and one of fashion’s greatest visionaries:
Known for changing the way women dress through HBO’s television series “Sex and the City”, she is also an Academy Awards nominated, Emmy Award winning costume designer for film and television.’
Finding Ruby utterly adorable Patricia along with her assistant Jonny kindly showed Ruby and I around her famous store and gave us an exclusive glimpse of the kids range she has coming out this year, allowing Ruby to purchase a cool fuchsia T-shirt with a hand painted Andy Warhol print. House of Field is one of those shops where you can’t buy anything because you want to buy everything! I eventually settled on big gold initial ‘H’ earrings and a cute Betsy Johnson bag and along with her T-shirt Ruby bought a stretchy black choker.
New York is a huge place and your busy all day everyday, that can take it’s toll especially on an eight year old kid. A slight fever and a feeling of lethargy found Ruby in bed at 4pm, only to awaken early evening to squeeze in a burrito before bed. She makes me the proudest person ever.
Long live the VEF and I can’t stop gushing over Ruby my wee FASHION QUEEN.