“Everybody ought to have a Lower East Side in their life.” The words of Irving Berlin, one of the greatest songwriters in American history, whom like many others fell in love with this quirky neighbourhood of Lower Manhattan. This section of the tour enables you to cruise through eight acres of green space known as the Sara D. Roosevelt Park, the most popular public park in the neighbourhood. Lower East Side has long been home to a variety of immigrant communities, making it a fascinating place to visit for those interested in trendy boutiques, international cuisine and a large cross-section of bars.
The route then continues east towards Williamsburg Bridge, an incredible structure built with over 17,500 miles of cable. In addition to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, the bridge also carries one of New York’s many subway lines. One of the city’s most famous sons, the rapper Jay-Z, was born and raised close to the Marcy Avenue subway stop on this particular line. His birth name is Shawn Carter, but his Jay-Z stage name reflects the two subway services which stop at this station.
Much like the other two bridges, Williamsburg offers you unrivalled views of both Manhattan and the nearby Brooklyn Navy Yard, which was home to over 70,000 workers during the Second World War. Elsewhere, the neighbourhoods of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill are the perfect places to spend an afternoon. You’ll find yourself spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants, bars and shops, whilst the streets have that stereotypical New York look which so often features on TV and movies.
The final stretch of the tour passes through DUMBO, a name which more often than not requires a bit of explanation: It simply stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. The area has long been a hot spot for artists and creative types, with many having upped sticks from the Lower East Side in the 1970s in favour of this particular district. Today it is one of New York’s most expensive neighbourhoods, and a visit here also gives you the chance to drop by the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Here you’ll find Building 92, the Navy Yard’s welcome centre, which houses a museum showcasing the area’s history. The tour wraps up at the Fulton Ferry landing in Brooklyn Bridge Park where you can hop aboard one of the Waterways’ ferries back to Manhattan, providing you with some outstanding views of the city skyline in the process.
Take on the challenge of B-M-W cycle tour and reap the rewards of seeing some of the city’s landmarks on two wheels. From the marvellous architecture of the three bridges towering over the East River to the history and culture of some of NYC’s most interesting neighbourhoods, it’s an exciting way to explore one of the world’s greatest cities.
Written by Virgin Atlantic