Dumbo, an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. It encompasses two sections: one located between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, which connect Brooklyn to Manhattan across the East River, and another that continues east from the Manhattan Bridge to the Vinegar Hill area. The neighborhood is part of Brooklyn Community Board 2.
Until the 1890s, the western portion of the neighborhood was known as Fulton Landing, after the ferry stop that connected it to Manhattan before the Brooklyn Bridge opened. Then, it was primarily a manufacturing district, housing warehouses and factories that made machinery, paper boxes and Brillo soap pads. With deindustrialization it began becoming primarily residential, when artists and other young homesteaders seeking relatively large and inexpensive loft apartment spaces for studios and homes began moving there in the late 1970s. The acronym Dumbo arose in 1978, when new residents coined it in the belief such an unattractive name would help deter developers. Near the end of the 20th century, as property became more and more expensive in Manhattan, Dumbo became increasingly gentrified. Joy Glidden is the Founding Director of the Dumbo arts center (DAC) and co-founder of the Dumbo Art Under the Bridge Festival in Brooklyn, where she served as the Executive Director from 1997-2006. Using art as a catalyst for change, Glidden’s efforts achieved successful development in Dumbo that is now a model for similar waterfront developments around the world.
On December 18, 2007, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to designate the Dumbo section of Brooklyn as the city’s 90th historic district. The Dumbo historic district consists of properties bound by John Street to the north, York Street to the south, Main Street to the west, and Bridge Street to the east.
The area has emerged as one of New York City’s premier arts districts, with a cluster of for-profit art galleries such as the Klompching Gallery and such not-for-profit institutions as the St. Ann’s Warehouse and the A.I.R. Gallery. Chef Jacques Torres opened a chocolate factory in Dumbo in December 2000. Other culinary businesses in the area include Grimaldi’s, the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, and the The River Café. All of these businesses cluster in Fulton Landing, which is also home to Bargemusic, a floating venue for classical music. The first public space in the neighborhood was Fulton Ferry, followed by Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park. Brooklyn Bridge Park, a joint state/city venture presently under development, was launched in 2006.
NY Waterway runs a water ferry from the Fulton Slip at Fulton Landing. New York City Subway stations are located at York Street (F train), and High Street – Brooklyn Bridge (A C trains). Bus service is provided by the B25, B67, and B69. A convenient staircase connects the Brooklyn Bridge walkway to Washington Street, one of Dumbo’s main streets. The East River Ferry began operations in July 2011, connecting the wharf at Fulton Landing to stops in Governor’s Island, Wall Street, Williamsburg, Greenpoint and midtown Manhattan at E. 34th Street. A free bus picks up passengers at E. 34th for more convenient locations in midtown.