I am interrupting my regularly scheduled Paris series to write about something timelier, what I did yesterday. My original plan for Saturday was to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and check out the recently opened Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park. As I passed One Police Plaza, I knew something big was going on when I saw a group of police officers on horses, surrounded by more officers on foot. Based on the cardboard signs in the distance, I correctly guessed that the Occupy Wall Street protesters had mobilized and were crossing the bridge. I was determined to walk over the bridge, so I decided to follow them and document the event.
The protest was very visually interesting. The crowd was energetic and there was a lot of chanting (“This is what democracy looks like,” “Goldman Sachs get off our backs,” “We are the 99%”), with the chants constantly changed by whoever could shout the loudest. Many tourists and photographers gathered on the sides of the bridge to watch and photograph the crowd. I thought it was nice that cars on the lower level of the bridge honked in solidarity and drivers held out their fingers, making peace symbols.
There were also A TON of police officers, most of who looked miserable and not pleased to be there. Things went awry when the police started arresting people on the lower level of the bridge. I should explain that I was on the pedestrian walking level, but there are traffic lanes on the lower level of the bridge. Apparently protesters on that level had blocked traffic and the police arrested over seven hundred people. I do not support people blocking traffic, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the police led the mass there, as has been suggested by several media sources. When the arrests started the group stopped moving and people shouted at the police below. I took photos and then tried to make my way through the crowd. Eventually the group started moving again. I got off the bridge at the DUMBO exit, as originally planned. I don’t know how long I spent on the bridge, but it was definitely the longest crossing ever.
As I walked through DUMBO, I could still hear the protesters chanting for several blocks. I stopped on Water Street at Jacques Torres’ Ice Cream Parlor, where I got a single scoop of the special “wicked” flavor. For $3.30, it was quite the NYC bargain! “Wicked” is chocolate ice cream with chili peppers (I once tried the famous “wicked” hot chocolate and it was too spicy, but the ice cream was slightly less intense).
I walked a block and finally arrived at Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park. I have been excited about the carousel opening since I first passed it in DUMBO, back when it sat immobile in a storefront window.
Jane’s Carousel is a restored historic carousel from 1922, which now sits in a Jean Nouvel designed glass pavilion overlooking the East River, between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges. The carousel and the pavilion were a gift from the Walentas family (real estate moguls) to the city of New York. The pavilion didn’t strike me as anything special, but the carousel was stunning and the setting was equally spectacular. Rides are $2. a piece and while the ride felt short, it may have been because I was having so much fun (note though that the horses on the exterior of the carousel are immobile, but more bejeweled than the rest).
I was excited to see lots of wedding parties in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and particularly at the carousel. I titled this post “Seven Brides” because of the movie “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” and also because I lost count at seven brides, but there were probably closer to ten wedding parties in the park. Eventually I walked back to the bridge, but the entrance was blocked by three police officers who told me that the bridge was closed due to the protest. I was annoyed and headed towards the subway, but it was just as well because it started pouring as I entered the station.
Since it was the weekend, the closest subway line to my house was closed for construction, so I took another line and transferred at 14th street and 8th avenue. Despite my strong dislike of the subway, I love the 14th and 8th avenue station because of the Tom Otterness “Life Underground” installation that is scattered throughout. Seeing the installation was rather timely, since many of the adorable little sculptures actually have political undertones criticizing capitalism. Observing the sculptures was a very appropriate way to end the day. I wish every subway station had art installations like W. 14th street!