On a beautiful sunny Spring Sunday morning I met Tony Muia and the 25 participants from various parts of NYC as well as Canada, Holland, Hawaii and England (Cost of Tour: Adults- $75 and Children under 12- $65) at 13th Street off Union Square for a 4 1/2 hour whirlwind tour of part of this vast borough.
Tony Muia, a proud native Brooklynite who, for over 25 years, has been showing people around his beloved hometown. In 2005 Tony started A Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour highlighting the incredible pizzerias, landmarks, movie locations and points of interest that have made Brooklyn world-known. Two years later, he started A Christmas Lights Tour of Brooklyn showcasing the famous Christmas decorations of the Dyker Heights section of Brooklyn. Soon after, he launched his Brooklyn Neighborhood Tour highlighting the other foods, unique neighborhoods, landmarks and famous movie locations of Brooklyn.
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City’s five boroughs with about 2.6 million people and the second largest in area (71 square miles). Today if it were an independent city, Brooklyn would rank as the fourth most populous city in the U.S. behind only the other boroughs of New York combined, Los Angeles and Chicago. Brooklyn was an independent city until 1898 when Brooklyn was consolidated with the other boroughs to form the modern “City of New York”.
After driving over the Brooklyn Bridge past the Brooklyn Marriott Hotel and Metro Tech our first stop was Brooklyn Heights, the country’s first suburb with narrow streets, elegant brownstones and the Promenade, Brooklyn’s best view of lower Manhattan. We briefly stepped inside Plymouth Church, a site on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. We drove along Park Slope, an area of beautiful Victorian homes. Then, past Grand Army Plaza, the Botanical Gardens, Eastern Parkway, The Brooklyn Museum and the 85-acre Prospect Park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux after they completed Manhattan’s Central Park. There is a zoo, boathouse, 60-acre lake and band shell for concerts and sports facilities. This was the only part of Brooklyn that I have visited many times. What was the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Ebbett’s Field, is now just a sign on the wall of a housing development.
Next it was time for lunch at World Famous Junior’s on Flatbush Avenue (established in 1950) and included a half a pastrami sandwich, fries, cold slaw, pickles, as well as the famous Junior’s cheesecake and an egg cream for dessert. I figure about 5,000 calories but worth it.
Then it was back on the bus and a stop at Green-Wood Cemetery built in the 1800’s and the final resting place of some of history’s most memorable figures including Albert Anastasia, Boss Treed, Horace Greeley and Leonard Bernstein among its almost 600,000 residents. The cemetery sits on the highest point in Brooklyn with views of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. The Battle of Brooklyn was fought in this area. In August of 1776 British forces under General William Howe defeated Patriot forces under General George Washington.
As we headed back to Union Square we watched clips of the famous people born in Brooklyn and saw locations shots from movies such as Moonstruck, The Godfather, As Good As It Gets, Dog Day Afternoon and Sophie’s Choice.
I loved the tour and hope Tony adds a short stop at the areas around Grand Army Plaza.
Saturdays at 10:30am. These are the standard tour times; please click the link below to see all currently available dates.
Approximately 4.5 hours
Adults: $75 • Children under 12: $65
Includes a half a pastrami sandwich, fries, soft drink as well as a slice of cheesecake and an egg cream for dessert.
The Union Square area of Manhattan (exact details provided upon purchase)
Online: Brooklyn Neighborhood Tour
Phone – Call Zerve at 212-913-9917 or 888-224-7031