Brooklyn’s Waterfront Cultural Hotbed

PSFK visits thriving arts neighborhood, DUMBO, to hear a Rolling Stone writer read from his latest book in partnership with Nokia.

DUMBO, short for Down Under The Manhattan Bridge Overpass, was deemed, for many years, a place that was “about to happen.” Artists were moving in and renting studios by the dozen, and a slew of small design shops and restaurants were popping up. Half a decade ago the neighborhood seemed poised to become the next Chelsea, and on a recent visit to the Brooklyn ‘burb, PSFK realized that it had. Throngs of hipsters, sightseers, and those simply drawn to the majestic waterfront meandered through the streets. This summer, as part of an initiative spearheaded by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, the neighborhood is offering a range of free events and activities– from yoga in the park, to free local history and eco tours.

Though the pristine water’s edge and a chance to view the Manhattan skyline at sundown were certainly added bonuses, what brought PSFK to DUMBO was a reading by Rolling Stone columnist Rob Sheffield, discussing the mechanisms behind karaoke at the independent book store powerHouse Arena. Billed as half book launch (for his newest release Turn Around Bright Eyes) and half live karaoke session, we couldn’t turn down the opportunity to catch one of our favorite music and pop culture columnists wax poetic on Bonnie Tyler, the joys of singing with friends, and the ability of karaoke to heal all wounds.

Home to world-renowned art book publisher powerHouse Books, the Arena is a gallery, boutique, book store, performance and events space. The space boasts 24-foot ceilings on the 5,000 square foot ground floor and a glass paneled storefront that allows visitors ringside seats to astoundingly vivid sunsets that have become a aesthetic constant this summer.

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Created in 2006 to act as a “laboratory for creative thought” and a venue for exhibitions, installations, presentations, performances and readings, the space was designed by famed architect David Howell to enhance the beauty of the surrounding neighborhood and act as a catalyst and incubator for the dynamic creative class emerging in the area. TimeOut NY called it “one of the best spots to hear authors read their work,” which was proven true as we sat listening to Sheffield and gazing out at the DUMBO waterfront.

After catching Sheffield’s reading and, along with a few audience members who also decided to brave their stage fright and belt out a few hits, we took our Nokia Lumia 928 back to the park to capture the post-sundown scenes– with surprising clarity. While our iPhone left figures blurry and mysterious, our Lumia was able capture the subtle colors of the breathtaking views.

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If you’d like to see for yourself, take a look at some of the images we shot below:

Nokia Lumia 928 // powerHouse Arena // Brooklyn Bridge Park

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