Sheepshead Bay/Manhattan Beach (Brooklyn by the Sea: Part 1)

Cross the slatted wooden footbridge that spans Sheepshead Bay and enter Brooklyn’s most picturesque quarter. (Some call it the Brooklyn Riviera.) The bay is a concrete rectangle, a man-made concoction, but there’s a storybook aura here, with swans and ducks and gulls and pigeons galore (and more bird shit—some of it in mounds, mixed with pieces of mollusk shells—than you’ve ever seen in one place, spread like a patina over the concrete piers and bulkheads.)

Stroll through Holocaust Memorial Park in Manhattan Beach, then down Oriental Boulevard to the beach, where on hot days the adjacent park is dense with picnickers and you can almost float out to sea on clouds of fragrant smoke wafting up from the assemblage of grills. Then head over to scenic Kingsborough Community College, where another, more private beach reminds you of some place far from Brooklyn, maybe down south or across the country. Walk the campus perimeter, hugging the shore, passing shoals and seaweed, even a lighthouse (which doubles as an academic building).

Walk up Shore Boulevard, a long stretch of nouveau riche temples, and back across the footbridge. Then walk down Emmons Avenue, where the fishing boat touts beckon with blunt offers of ocean excursions: “All night blues, porgies, bass . . . Half-a-day or all the way.” No poetry from them (that last one’s mine), or nautical lore. And the Randazzo’s waitresses are hardbitten too: What’ll it be hon, please eat and run . . . to the train back to elsewhere, someplace more accommodating, but certainly less picturesque.

SLIDESHOW – Brooklyn by the Sea (Flickr)


  1. Hello from another Brooklyn blogger! I scanned your blog and thought your photos were wonderful!

    I found your site when I did a google search for Green-Wood Cemetery. You wouldn't happen to have any photos of Samuel H Sim's gravestone in Green-Wood that I could use? I would like to do a blog about him.


  2. is a labor of considerable love that adumbrates the incredible diversity of what would be the fourth largest city in the U.S. (if it were a city). This is a beautiful work of art. The aesthetics of the parks, the shores, and often many of the buildings are something of a reverie. I’m embarrassed to discover that as someone who was raised in the borough that I have never been to the Brooklyn Riviera, an omission I will rectify in the coming months. Your photographs rise to the poetic in a way that creates a certain ruminative, almost romantic mood.


  3. Hello. Came across your website and decided to visit. I grew up in Bklyn...Manhattan Beach (the projects on Oriental Blvd's Maritim Base) in the 40's and early fifties. I attended PS 195. I remember my Dad taking me to Brighton Beach to see diverse cultures and, of course, a kids dream: Coney Island..It was there I first rode a horse! A skinny old piebald that took me safely in a few circles and let me feed him a handful of hay. I was 6 or 7.
    My dad managed the housing project at the maritime base and it was not at all as luxurious as the homes directly across Oriental Blvd, but it was fun for a kid. The nuns in a small Catholic church on the street next to my apartment would laugh and smile as my friends and I played cowboy and indians in their churchyard.

    Ever fish on a headboat called 'The Chief'? or eat roast beef sandwiches at McGinnis?

    Thanks for letting me share!!

  4. Dear BiWils
    I also grew up in Manhattan Beach on Exeter Street. I never appreciated how special it was to have the ocean at the corner and the bay two blocks away. And of course McGinnis was the best! Lundys was pretty great then too.
    Coney Island with my dad on the bumper cars were the Sundays of my dreams. Haven't found anything better.