The Champs Élysées of Brooklyn
May 23, 2013

The Champs Élysées of Brooklyn

Of all days to be outside, Sunday was not one. The robust competition between sunshine and clouds on Friday, had resulted in victory by the latter on Saturday, and on Sunday we awoke to a rainy day. Nevertheless, there were things to do and appointments to keep which lured us outdoors. In this case, thanks to the geography of all we had to accomplish, we spent a good chunk of our time on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn—and discovered a destination we certainly recommend to others.

Our trip began where the parkway intersects Utica Avenue. We took the 3 train out there, but you can also take the 4. We headed west towards Grand Army Plaza (put Utica Avenue to your back after getting out of the subway station) and the Brooklyn Museum of Art.  Eastern Parkway is very broad and features two wide, paved tree-lined promenades that are separated by four lanes of east-west traffic.  Each promenade also has a parking lane on the far side of it, and beyond that, buildings.  The buildings were mostly low-slung row houses and (aside from the occasional big-bank branch or fast-food outlet) local businesses.

Eastern Parkway was recently referred to as the “Champs Élysées of Brooklyn” and that was part of our motivation for exploring it. On a sunny day with the trees in bloom, the promenades would be a fine place to stroll with a stroller or a toddler who is getting the hang of a scooter. Thanks to the drizzle when we visited, the tree branches, weighed down with rain water, hung low and were the perfect challenge for a leaping ten-year-old fixated on how tall he is going to grow. Meanwhile his little sister literally sang in the rain as she walked along beside him. Given plenty of room to move, they invented throwing games with stray sticks, totally oblivious to—or better, enjoying—the constant drip around them.  As long as there isn’t thunder and lightning overhead, Riley and Halina love being out in the rain—even soaking downpours.

Playground Oasis

At Brooklyn Avenue, about a mile from the subway station, we saw a sign for the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and made a mental note to check it out sometime when we’re dry.  After another mile we reached the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. By this time our kids were ready for a playground, and we conveniently spotted one right up next to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in Mount Prospect Park. As our kids romped for a bit we were stopped wayward pedestrians who asked if it is possible to walk through Mount Prospect directly into Prospect Park—a relatively common error—and we were happy to save them time by informing them “no.”

On a day like ours,  the aquatic theme of the playground (seal statue fountain spouting majestically at the entrance, loads of sprinklers firing—at least in better weather—into one another across the bow of a wide play space within) seemed redundant, and thus perfect. (The Parks Department turns playground sprinklers and water fountains on after Memorial Day.)

From the playground, you can continue on to Grand Army Plaza—site of the famous bunny reunion in the first Knuffle Bunny book—and then into Prospect Park.

What rainy day walks do you recommend?



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