Field Trip: Bushwick

Doing minimal research had worked out so well for our Greenpoint walkabout that Andrea and I figured we’d be OK in Bushwick—and we were wrong. I assumed that the interesting part(s) had to be near Roberta’s, where I insisted we have lunch, but if that’s the case, we missed them. Then again, it’s possible we missed Bushwick entirely. “If you enter Bushwick into a Google Maps search,” emailed Andrea once we returned to Tribeca, “the map comes up with an area delineated by a dashed red line. We were just west of it. Got more intel from my son—his second residence [in other words, his girlfriend’s place] is in a very residential section of East Bushwick (Halsey stop on the J train).”

So I guess this Field Trip is actually about the Possibly Unnamed Neighborhood West of Bushwick, or PUNWOB. [Update: Thanks to Deric for commenting that it’s actually called Morgantown.]

The afternoon started off well, when I found this postage-stamp-size photo at the Eight Avenue L station.

Bushwick field trip photo at subway stationAnd how can you not love the mosaic signage at the Morgan Avenue station?

Bushwick Morgan Ave street signWe went straight to Roberta’s. I’d been there before and loved it—the place reminds me of how the city used to be, before it all got so cleaned up. We had two excellent salads and a pizza (the Gorgon Ramsay) that could’ve used more gorgonzola.

Bushwick RobertasBushwick Robertas Gorgon Ramsay pizzaI can’t speak for Andrea’s experience in the women’s restroom, but the graffiti in the men’s room was inspiring.

Bushwick Robertas mens room graffitiAnd the truck delivering wood for the pizza oven was a nice, rustic touch. It reminded me of when Adam and I rented a house in Connecticut, and the young man who delivered our firewood order said, “I don’t stack.”

Bushwick Robertas wood deliveryThen we walked and walked and walked. At first, there was plenty of street art and other character, and then it became generically industrial. I even felt vulnerable—the area was so desolate that a mugger could have pretty much done what he/she wanted with us. Even that made me nostalgic.

Bushwick doorBushwick street art muralAnd then, I guess, we were in the heart of PUNWOB. It was residential and industrial, all mixed together—and somewhat refreshing, in that it reminded me of the East Village and Lower East Side back in the day.

Bushwick bodega Bushwick bricked windowBushwick shoe store Bushwick shoe repairAt one point, I thought we had entered Greenpoint from the rear, so to speak; this church looked like the one we saw there.

Bushwick churchMy favorite sign:

Bushwick ironworks signMy least favorite sign:

Bushwick live poultryI’m not lying when I say I found PUNWOB refreshing, but I was also hoping to buy shit gifts. Luckily, we came across a shop (called Sta. Barbara, I think) selling religious icons, candles, and so on. I picked up some bath oil for an unlucky friend.

Bushwick Jinx Removing bath oilBut if we’re going to be honest, I was hoping for a tad more gentrification. So sue me! And we were getting peckish. There was a street—it must have had a name—with a skate shop and a café where the sidewalk tree had inexplicably been phoneboothed. Alas, the café was too hot inside, so we kept walking.

Bushwick skateboard planterBushwick phone booth treeRoberta’s saved the day. The adjacent building now sells takeout, including pastries, so we bought a sticky bun and had a lovely break at the garden area’s picnic tables.

Bushwick Robertas takeout counter Bushwick Robertas garden seatingAndrea thinks she might need to give Bushwick—the real Bushwick—another try, but then she likes Girls. I think I’m ready on to move on to Bed-Stuy….

P.S.

Bushwick shoe art

8 Comments

  1. The graffiti in the ladies room was much more interesting ;)

  2. It is often worthwhile doing an organized walking tour of the area. We did, got a lot of information about the Bushwick Collective street art, restaurant recommendations and a bit more of a structured walkabout in the more interesting areas. It was very inexpensive. Good as it may be, Bushwick is a lot more than just Roberta’s

  3. PUNWOB has a name, its called Morgantown. You have to cross Flushing to get to Bushwick proper.

  4. On it wasn’t gentrified enough for you? That is so sad.

    • I like to think my position had a bit more nuance than that. When I said I was hoping for more gentrification, what I meant was more shops, more restaurants, more ways to engage—the area we wandered around didn’t have much of that kind of stuff, and I was in the mood for it. (As I think I made clear, we have only ourselves to blame for walking around the less-gentrified part.)

      • The word gentrification is too freighted with meaning, and the meaning has shifted. I first heard it used by Ed Koch when he was mayor, and he had something quite different in mind from what it seems to imply today. I guess words like “developed” would be useful here. There’s a fragrance of old Europe and old money and stuff that sticks to “gentrified”.

        That said, I totally knew what you meant.

  5. Andrea “likes girls.” OMGaaaah, that’s so hoooot.

  6. You could have considered interacting with the denizens in Bushwick, instead of restaurants, shops and buildings. They are generally warmer and pretty common and for those in the know, that’s what all the palaver about “Bushwick ” happens to be about. People.

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