It bustles with a flurry of activity and the smells of ethnic foods and other goodies waft forth from the street's many eateries, bakeries and coffee shops.
Dating back to 1660, Williamsburg's industrial heritage - which thrived in the 1800's with docks, shipyards,factories, distilleries, mills, and foundries that dotted its waterfront - is still in evidence.
Former factory buildings are now becoming lofts and studios for the young professionals and creative types, who have escaped from the high cost of living in New York's East Village and seek the hip scene in Williamsburg.
The area used to be a center
for brewing and today, The Brooklyn Brewery is carries on the tradition.
As the Village's popularity has grown, new businesses have followed in the wake - to join the many mom-and-pop establishments which range from small hardware stores to drug stores and markets - that provide tasty selections of Polish and other ethnic foods. Now bookstores, art galleries, coffee shops. flower shops, upscale clothing and sports shops and a wide variety of restaurants and bars have become part of Bedford Street and the surrounding neighborhood... making Williamsburg the
in-place to live across the East River from Manhattan.
Spanning the east River between Williamsburg and Manhattan, the Williamsburg Bridge is the other bridge. Although it may take a second position to the more graceful Brooklyn Bridge in terms of design, the utilitarian Williamsburg Bridge provides an important function by reducing traffic congestion on the Brooklyn Bridge and linking Manhattan to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Its construction began November 7, 1896. At a cost of $24.2 million, it was completed and opened to horse-drawn carriages, bicycles and pedestrians on December 19, 1903. With a 1,600-foot-long main suspension span, the bridge’s total length - with eight traffic lanes and two subway tracks - including its approaches, extends 7,308 feet.
While exploring Williamsburg’s waterfront industrial area, I heard the sound of band music emanating from the distance ...then I discovered the rag tag Hungry March Band, standing there on the street, surrounded by rusting remnants of old manufacturing plants, warehouses and graffiti infested walls. They were casually practicing on a Sunday afternoon. Although everyone seemed to be playing in a different key, what they lacked in musical ability, they more than made up for in enthusiasm. Their sound reminded me of the Mayberry Band from the Andy Griffith show.
I found out that The Hungry March Band has become famous for their spontaneous and audacious performances in unlikely locations like subway trains, the Staten Island Ferry and unannounced street events. They are always on the move and have performed at outdoor festivals and events in New York and Europe and have even marched in the New Orleans Mardi Gras parade. According to web sources, this happy group of non-musicians has also performed at the Lincoln Center, a Lollapalooza festival, a dog parade, protest marches, a Harlem block party, and at numerous other events, benefits and weddings, and they reputedly marched into the ocean while playing in the Mermaid Parade.
The band has some 25 active musicians and performers - with the size varying from five to fifty at different times. It is comprised of musicians, dancers, baton twirlers and even hula hoopers or whoever wants to join in on the fun. Their instrumentation includes everything from a sousaphone to trumpets, saxophones, clarinets, trombones, percussion and a banjo.
The group’s musical repertoire includes
a variety of musical styles: punk rock, hip hop, jazz, reggae, Latin and Gypsy
music, or whatever inspires them at the moment.
The Hungry March Band has self-produced three full-length CD's and they are currently writing new material for another CD. They are continually planning events and future tours among which include a West Coast tour, a return to Europe, and a brass band festival in NYC in 2007. MF
They may be found at: