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New York City - Brooklyn
Brooklyn, the "Borough of Homes and Churches," is situated on the westernmost point of Long Island and shares a land boundary with Queens which partially encircles Brooklyn to the north, east and south; Manhattan lies across the East River to the west and north of Brooklyn and Staten Island is across the Verrazano Narrows to the southwest.
Brooklyn is currently enjoying a period of growth and affluence not seen since before World War II. There's world-class theater at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the center of a proposed new arts district that will include a new art museum and a highly controversial Frank Gehry-designed sports area home for the NBA's Nets. Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Brooklyn's Prospect Park as well as Manhattan's Central Park, thought his Brooklyn creation the finer of the two. Elsewhere in the borough, Williamsburg is a hipster neighborhood and burgeoning art colony, and Brighton Beach is home to New York's largest concentration of Russian immigrants.

What to see

Grand Army Plaza
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Prospect Park designers Olmsted and Vaux conceived the Grand Army Plaza as a grand, sweeping introduction to the Park, separating the active urban landscape from the expansive beauty of the Park's interior. The first section of the Park to be completed, in 1867 the Plaza featured little more than a simple fountain surrounded by Olmsted and Vaux's distinctive berms (banks of earth used as a barrier) with dense plantings. But two years later, John H. Duncan, the designer of Grant's Tomb in Manhattan, was commissioned to add grandeur to the Plaza, in the style of dramatic European plazas like the Parisian Etoile where the Arc de Triomphe is located. The plan was somewhat at odds with Olmsted and Vaux's original vision, however it was soon after the Union emerged victorious from the Civil War, and Brooklyn mayor Seth Low wanted to build a fitting tribute to the Union's war heroes. The construction of the memorial arch, created by John Duncan in 1889, took on national importance; Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman laid the first stone and President Grover Cleveland presided over its unveiling ceremony on October 21, 1892.
In 1896, sculptor Frederick MacMonnies was chosen to adorn the Arch with sculptures depicting heroic Civil War battle scenes attended by Greco-Roman mythological figures. The first was installed in 40 separate pieces towering over seven stories above the plaza. Known as the Quadriga, the piece includes the lady Columbia, an allegorical representation of the United States, riding in a chariot accompanied by horses and two winged Victory figures trumpeting her arrival. The other two groupings were installed upon each pedestal of the Arch; the left one was entitled The Spirit of the Army, the right entitled The Spirit of the Navy. Both depict frenzied scenes of soldiers amid unwavering officers charging through the chaos.
Other artists contributed works of sculpture to Grand Army Plaza, including bronze relief panels of President Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant astride their horses. The human figures were cast by William O'Donovan and the horses by Thomas Eakins in 1895. Throughout the century, other historical statues and busts were erected at different points in the plaza.
Just north of the Arch stands Bailey Fountain, the fourth fountain to occupy this prominent site. The original fountain, featuring a rather unimpressive lone jet of water, was replaced in 1873 by Calvert Vaux's Plaza Fountain. Although more appropriate than the first, with its gas-lit colored horizontal and vertical water jets, the next version of aquatic art far surpassed its predecessors. The Electric Fountain, designed by electrical engineer F.W. Darlington in 1897, featured 19 automatic focusing lights powered by the then modern marvel of electricity and a dancing display of water jets controlled by a conductor. Unfortunately, the Electric Fountain was removed during the 1915 construction of the IRT subway under the Plaza.
In 1926, the Plaza received its current name to honor the 60th anniversary of the Union victory in the Civil War. The Bailey Fountain, which currently stands in Grand Army Plaza, was built in 1932 by architect Edgerton Swarthout and sculptor Eugene Savage. The Fountain's construction was funded by Brooklyn-based financier and philanthropist Frank Bailey (1865-1953), who wanted to build a memorial to his wife Mary Louise. It features an elaborate grouping of allegorical and mythical figures, including Neptune, god of water, and a pair of nudes, male and female, representing Wisdom and Felicity.
The Soldiers and Sailors Monument received landmark designation in 1973; in 1975, all of Grand Army Plaza became a National Historic Landmark.

Prospect Park

Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux after their great success with Central Park, this 562 acres of woodland, meadows, bluffs, and ponds is considered by many to be their masterpiece and the pièce de résistance of Brooklyn. The best approach is from Grand Army Plaza. For the best view of the lush landscape, follow the path to Meadowport Arch, and proceed through to the Long Meadow, following the path that loops around it (it's about an hour's walk). Other park highlights include the 1857 Italianate mansion Litchfield Villa on Prospect Park West; the Friends' Cemetery Quaker burial ground (where Montgomery Clift is eternally prone-sorry, it's fenced off to browsers); the wonderful 1906 beaux arts boathouse; the 1912 carousel, with white wooden horses salvaged from a famous Coney Island merry-go-round (open Apr-Oct; rides 50¢); and Lefferts Homestead Children's Historic House Museum, a 1783 Dutch farmhouse with a museum of period furniture and exhibits geared to kids (open Apr-Nov Fri-Sun 1-4pm). There's a map at the park entrance that you can use to get your bearings.
On the east side of the park is the Prospect Park Zoo, a thoroughly modern children's zoo where kids can walk among wallabies, explore a prairie-dog town, and much more.

 
Brooklyn Museum of Art
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The Brooklyn Museum, housed in a 560,000-square-foot, Beaux-Arts building, is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the States. Its world-renowned permanent collections range from ancient Egyptian masterpieces to contemporary art, and represent a wide range of cultures. Only a 30-minute subway ride from midtown Manhattan, with its own newly renovated subway station, the Museum is part of a complex of nineteenth-century parks and gardens that also includes Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the Prospect Park Zoo.
Its world-renowned permanent collections include more than one million objects, from ancient Egyptian masterpieces to contemporary art, and represent a wide range of cultures.
200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, tel (718) 638-5000
Subway: 2, 3, Eastern Parkway / Brooklyn Museum
admission: suggested contribution adults $8, students with valid ID $4, adults 65 and over $4, members and children under 12 free
open We-Fr 10am-5pm, Sa-Su 11am-6pm

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Just down the street from the Brooklyn Museum of Art is the most popular botanic garden in the city. This peaceful 52-acre sanctuary is at its most spectacular in May, when thousands of deep pink blossoms of cherry trees are abloom. Well worth seeing is the spectacular Cranford Rose Garden, one of the largest and finest in the country; the Shakespeare Garden, an English garden featuring plants mentioned in his writings; a Children's Garden; the Osborne Garden, a 3-acre formal garden; the Fragrance Garden, designed for the blind but appreciated by all noses; and the extraordinary Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. The renowned C. V. Starr Bonsai Museum is home to the world's oldest and largest collection of bonsai, while the impressive $2.5 million Steinhardt Conservatory holds the garden's extensive indoor plant collection.
1000 Washington Ave. (at Eastern Pkwy.)

Historic District
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Bounded by the East River, Fulton Street, Court Street, and Atlantic Avenue, the Brooklyn Heights Historic District is one of the most outstanding and easily accessible sights beyond Manhattan. The neighborhood is reachable via a number of subway trains: the A, C, F to Jay St.; the 2, 3, 4, 5 to Clark Street or Borough Hall; and the N, R to Court Street.
It's easy to link a walk around Brooklyn Heights and along its Promenade with a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, a tour that makes for a lovely afternoon on a nice day. Take a 2 or 3 train to Clark Street (the first stop in Brooklyn). Turn right out of the station and walk toward the water, where you'll see the start of the waterfront Brooklyn Promenade. Stroll along the promenade admiring both the stellar views of lower Manhattan to the left and the gorgeous multimillion-dollar brownstones to the right, or park yourself on a bench for a while to contemplate the scene.
The promenade ends at Columbia Heights and Orange Street. To head to the bridge from here, turn left and walk toward the Watchtower Building. Before heading downslope, turn right immediately after the playground onto Middagh Street. After 4 or 5 blocks, you'll reach a busy thoroughfare, Cadman Plaza West. Cross the street and follow the walkway through little Cadman Plaza Park; veer left at the fork in the walkway. At Cadman Plaza East, turn left (downslope) toward the underpass, where you'll find the stairwell up to the Brooklyn Bridge footpath on your left.