DUMBO is an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass and is a neighborhood located between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges. It also extends to the area from the Manhattan Bridge to Vinegar Hill. Until the 1890’s, this neighborhood in Brooklyn was known as Fulton Landing after the ferry stop that connected it to Manhattan before the Brooklyn Bridge opened. At that time it was primarily a manufacturing district that housed warehouses and factories making machinery, paper boxes and Brillo soap pads.
As time went on, deindustrialization of the neighborhood led to its becoming primarily residential. Artists and other young people seeking relatively large and inexpensive loft apartment spaces for studios and homes began to move into the area in the late 1970’s. DUMBO has become increasingly gentrified as property has become more and more expensive in Manhattan. Being a close subway or ferry trip away from Manhattan, the area is attractive to families, artists, and tourists alike. The New York Water Taxi company runs a water ferry from the Fulton Slip at Fulton Landing. Stepping out onto the old cobblestone streets is a delight.
Art has been a unifying force in this area and has served as a catalyst for change there as well. The DUMBO Arts Center was founded by Joy Glidden and under her direction from 1997-2006 has helped to establish a successful model for waterfront development that has been referred to and used internationally. The area has emerged as one of New York City’s premier arts districts, with a cluster of for-profit art galleries and such not-for-profit institutions as the St. Ann’s Warehouse and the A.I.R. Gallery.
The neighborhood is also home to a chocolate factory, an ice cream factory and a bunch of other wonderful culinary businesses such as the River Café and, in the One Old Fulton Street building, Pete’s Downtown Restaurant. All of these businesses cluster in Fulton Landing, which is also home to Bargemusic, a floating venue for classical music. The first public space in the neighborhood was Fulton Ferry, followed by Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park. Brooklyn Bridge Park, a joint state/city venture presently under development, was launched in 2006. During the summer, the neighborhood hosts Movies with a View, a free outdoor movie series that brings thousands of people to the area. DUMBO is a perfect place to spend a weekend moseying through the streets discovering the old-meets-new charisma of Brooklyn.