Brooklyn’s criminal past is not the only option for a Bike the Branches tour. The library’s Brooklyn Collection helped prepare 12 different routes that focus on different aspects of the borough’s past and alcohol-soaked present. Our panel of expert recommenders picked a basketful so you do not have to.
Brooklyn has loved liquor for as long as it has been inhabited. The route features historic buildings from Brooklyn’s beer-brewing heyday, such as the former Leibmann and Rheingold breweries on Forest Street, Schaefer Brewing Company on Kent Avenue, and Excelsior on Pulaski Street. The tour also features some newer points — and pints — of interest, including the Brooklyn Brewery, the Kings County Distillery, and the Van Brunt Stillhouse. But if you plan on sampling the modern libations, you should probably ditch the bike.
This is a tour of sites connected to America’s pastime in the borough of Kings. It features the homes of famous Brooklyn Dodgers, including Duke Snider, Sandy Koufax, and Jackie Robinson, stops near Prospect Park’s Parade Grounds, where semi-pro games were once played, and The Wallace Grounds, a ball field near the Washington Irving branch that hosted Negro League teams. And of course the pilgrimage must stop at the former site of Ebbets Fields on Bedford Avenue at Sullivan Place, where a 20-story housing complex stands today.
This is the Old Brooklyn route — the very Old Brooklyn route. It includes stops at Native American sites, such as Marechkawick, a site on Bridge Street between Front and York streets thought to have been a village run by an offshoot of the Canarsee tribe, who had a large settlement and a planting site on the other side of the borough. The tour also directs attention to Revolutionary War times, including the once-higher spot in Cobble Hill called Ponkiesbergh, where George Washington is said to have stood looking down at the Battle of Brooklyn being fought in what is now Gowanus. This tour is like going back in time with a foot-powered DeLorean.