Novel New York
by Jessica Allen, 04/01/2014
"Brookland" (2006), by Emily Barton courtesy Picador • The Brooklyn Museum photo by Adam Husted
No matter how often you've done it, strolling across the Brooklyn Bridge still has the power to captivate—in fact, this very activity offers the perfect antidote to New York City cynicism. Emily Barton's historical novel takes readers back to a time when Dutch was still widely spoken here, British soldiers were garrisoned in what was then known as "Brookland" and the only way to cross the East River was by boat (or by gliding across the ice). To get a sense of this past, spend some time examining Francis Guy's painting Winter Scene in Brooklyn (1819–20) at the Brooklyn Museum. Then, to honor the protagonist's dream of bridging Brooklyn and Manhattan, make your way to DUMBO and wander around Brooklyn Bridge Park's 85 waterfront acres. To preserve an image of the bridge, head to the intersection of Washington and Front Streets for an awesome photo op. Finish your day by stopping at the dignified River Café for a multicourse meal or just a gin (as fans of the book know, Barton goes into extensive detail about the distillation of this particular alcohol). As the Manhattan skyline starts to twinkle, you'll be forgiven for thinking that the borough across the water really does belong to another, more magical world.