The walking read: Guidebook offers tour of borough’s past and present

The walking read: Guidebook offers tour of borough’s past and present
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

She makes walks down memory lane.

An updated guide to exploring Kings County on foot will take wanderers through the borough’s landmarked locales and hipster hubs alike. The author of “Walking Brooklyn” said that she created some new jaunts that spotlight burgeoning businesses while also paying homage to the area’s enduring history.

“The neighborhoods with the historic districts can only change so much as far as the physical infrastructure, but the whole culinary and culture scene has grown so much,” said Adrienne Onofri, who lives in the distant borough of Queens.

Onofri — who also wrote “Walking Queens” and edited “Walking Manhattan” — first penned the guidebook in 2007 by researching local history and wandering the borough’s streets. She updated the book with new walks in areas that had changed dramatically over the past decade, including Downtown, Dumbo, Gowanus, Red Hook, Coney Island, and Bushwick. She said she was most surprised by Bushwick’s transformation from a crime-ridden industrial district to its current status as a bastion of hipsters fueled by overpriced coffee and microbreweries.

“Ten years ago, people were starting to talk about Bushwick as the place where people were going to go when they were priced out of Williamsburg,” she said. “To people who are old enough and have been in New York long enough, that still seemed a little far fetched, because Bushwick has unfortunately been a troubled neighborhood, so it was just amazing the way that turned around.”

Onofri expanded her Bushwick route — which originally focused on the 19th century brewers’ mansions on Bushwick Avenue in the first edition of the book — to include stops at a “hipster mini-mall,” an organic chocolate shop, and an artists’ collective.

The book includes more than 30 Brooklyn neighborhoods, but some of her favorite walks are located in Dumbo and around Prospect Park, she said. Those saunters combine historical context with modern allure, which she hopes will entice both visitors and locals to take the routes less traveled by.

“I like walks that have a real combination of things: history, nature — whether it’s a park or a waterway — and places where you can see very contemporary culture and art,” said Onofri. “The idea was to write it for people living here and for tourists. I certainly hope that it encourages people to explore some new neighborhoods.”

“Walking Brooklyn” by Adrienne Onofri. Available in bookstores now. $16.95.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.