There was an article in the New York Times recently about the re-opening of Fairway Market in Brooklyn’s Red Hook section after Sandy’s devastation.
When I started shopping at Fairway’s several decades ago, it was a cramped location at West 74th Street and Broadway. Poorly designed, with narrow aisles and sawdust on the floors, it had better deals than its better-known competitor just up Broadway, Zabar’s, and a more interesting selection than its lesser-known competitor, West Side Market.
Over the years, that cramped and overcrowded market expanded into the D’Agostino’s next door when that market’s lease was up. It added a second floor with organic groceries, and a cafe that served reasonably priced and deliciously prepared scrambled eggs with chorizo (in the days when I still ate meat).
Eventually, Fairway’s over on West 130th Street, just under the Riverside Viaduct, opened. I noticed from their website that they now have locations in New Jersey, Connecticut, around New York State, as well as several more in New York City. They’ve come a long way from the days when I used to buy bologna and cheese for the only lunches my darling daughter would deign to eat at pre-school.
Anyway, that article in the New York Times reminded me that although I’m in the Red Hook neighborhood often, I’ve never visited the Fairway Market there. So, I decided to check it out. I took the IRT express train down to Borough Hall in Brooklyn, then I walked down Court Street to Atlantic Avenue and waited for the B61 bus in front of the Rite Aid. I didn’t know exactly where I’d need to get off the bus, so I asked the bus driver.
He told me I’d need to get off at Beard Street and I said okay. Even though it’s not strictly kosher since they’re not supposed to be distracted while working, I chatted up the bus driver a little. I told him I wanted to take some pictures of the area, which baffled him since Red Hook is an industrial area and he thought there must be much more interesting things in Brooklyn to photograph.
“Where do you come from?” He asked me.
I replied, “Oh, I live in Harlem.”
He laughed. “You can take the same pictures in Harlem!” he told me between chuckles. Not really.
The Fairway Market in Red Hook is enormous! I recognized the brands and layout from the other Fairway markets. The cafe area, however, is laid out a little more like a food court, with a sandwich counter, a salad counter, and like that. I wasn’t hungry, so I just looked (yeah, never thought I’d see myself write that!).
There’s a seating area, outdoors when the weather permits, tented to protect diners from the brisk wind on the day I was there. I asked the security guard if it was okay to go out, since he was sitting right by the makeshift exit and appeared to be protecting it. After admonishing me not to cross the yellow lines, he graciously told me it would be okay and I could get a view of the Statue of Liberty just outside the door.
I noticed the junked trolley cars just at the water’s edge . A little poking about the internets revealed that the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association has offices in Red Hook and had a plan to restore some trolley service until funding was withdrawn.
I followed the trolley tracks and emerged at a shipyard where several New York Water Taxi boats were docked. Following the waterfront, I eventually reached Erie Basin Park, owned by IKEA just beyond it.
Although chilly, it was a sunny day and serenely quiet. My feet hurt. Where’s the bus stop?