There is an ice cream shop near the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, a few steps from a pier that offers some very nice views of the Manhattan skyline over the East River.
The river, at this point, is about a half-mile wide, but the buildings on the other side feel immediate, as if placed on that island with the intention of becoming a backdrop for photographs of handheld ice cream cones.
And that backdrop, looking west over the water, is just fine. There’s a pleasant and interesting Frank Gehry apartment building over there. One World Trade Center stretches out into the sky, perched behind an array of smaller financial district office towers. It’s a perfectly sufficient slice of NYC architecture.
Look north, though, and find a better resting place for eyes and cameras. On clear nights peering under the Brooklyn Bridge and over the Manhattan Bridge in the distance, the familiar tiers of the Empire State Building peak out, towering above its puny, midtown surroundings.
At any moment, at least a few people are standing on the 86th-floor observation deck of that building and looking south over the river. Their eyes following the straight lines of the bridge over the water towards Kings County.
And there, at the base of that bridge, on the pier that juts out into the water, a few steps from that ice cream shop, fellow tourists, or perhaps neighbors, mill around taking photos, leisurely eating vanilla ice cream cones, and looking back at them.
Looking back, past the two bridges, at those beautiful lights.