Dumbo, Brooklyn

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"DUMBO" redirects here. For the 1941 animated film, see Dumbo.
Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, DUMBO
Neighborhood of Brooklyn
View of Dumbo, with the Brooklyn Bridge and the island of Manhattan in the background
View of Dumbo, with the Brooklyn Bridge and the island of Manhattan in the background
Country United States
State New York
City New York City
Borough Brooklyn
 • Total 0.050 sq mi (0.13 km2)
Population (2010)
 • Total 1,139
 • Density 23,000/sq mi (8,800/km2)
ZIP Codes 11201
Median household income $171,842[1]

Dumbo, also known as DUMBO,[2][3] is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. "Dumbo" is an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass; It is similar to other city neighborhoods with an acronym, including Tribeca, SoHo, NoHo, NoMad, and Nolita in Manhattan, and BoCoCa in Brooklyn.[2][3]

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.


Empire State Building framed by the Manhattan Bridge, as seen from Washington Street

In 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. At that time, it was primarily a manufacturing district, with warehouses and factories that made machinery, paper boxes and Brillo soap pads. The area has been known, variously, as Rapailie, Olympia, and Walentasville.[4] The cardboard box was invented in the Robert Gair building on Washington Street by Robert Gair, a Scottish emigrant; because of Gair's fame, the area was known as Gairsville for a long time.[4] The Gair building is now home to Etsy.[5]

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.[3] The acronym Dumbo arose in 1978, when new residents coined it in the belief such an unattractive name would help deter developers.[3]

Near the end of the 20th century, as property became more and more expensive in Manhattan, Dumbo became increasingly gentrified. Still, by 1997, the acronym Dumbo was largely unknown, and the area itself was very inclusive, serving mainly as an enclave for artists located along the East River and under the Manhattan Bridge. There were still many air conditioner repair shops, auto shops, and "seedy back alleys and wharves"; however, as the neighborhood was still gentrifying from an industrial district, it lacked even a bookstore, coffee shop, or laundromat at the time.[6]

Joy Glidden is the Founding Director of the Dumbo Arts Center (DAC) and co-founder of the Dumbo Art Under the Bridge Festival, 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, which is now a model for similar waterfront developments around the world.[7] Glidden stated, of Dumbo's gentrification, "'It may be one of the last of what could be considered a true arts community in New York."[6]

On December 18, 2007, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to designate Dumbo 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.[8]

Land use[edit]

Art, business, and leisure[edit]

Looking westward from Jay Street along Plymouth Street, through Dumbo, under the Manhattan Bridge, at a pier of the Brooklyn Bridge

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.[9] Other culinary businesses in the area include Grimaldi's,[10] the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory,[11] and The River Café,[12] all clustered in Fulton Landing, also home to Bargemusic, a floating venue for classical music.[13]

The first public space in the neighborhood was Fulton Ferry,[14] followed by Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park.[15][16] The first six acres of Brooklyn Bridge Park, a joint state/city venture presently under development, were opened in March 2010.[17]

Tech hub[edit]

Pearl Street pocket park in Dumbo

Dumbo has New York City's highest concentration of technology firms by neighborhood.[5] Dumbo is home to 25 percent of New York City-based tech firms. Within a 10-block radius are 500 tech and creative firms that employ over 10,000 people.[5]

The City of New York, in conjunction with New York University, installed an incubator in Dumbo to support development of tech start-ups.[5] Dumbo's average office rent of $25 per square foot makes it more attractive to start-ups than Manhattan, where rents average $40 per square foot in 2013.[5]

The area has been compared to the Silicon Roundabout area in Shoreditch, East London, as well as to Manhattan's Silicon Alley.


New York City Subway stations are located at York Street (F train) on the IND Sixth Avenue Line, and High Street (A C trains) on the IND Eighth Avenue Line. New York City Bus service is provided by the B25, B67, and B69. Ramps and staircases connects the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge walkways to Dumbo. The East River Ferry began operations in July 2011, connecting the wharf at Fulton Landing to stations in Manhattan and Williamsburg.

NY Waterway formerly ran a water ferry from the Fulton Slip at Fulton Landing.


The neighborhood contains the Farragut Houses, a group of ten towers managed by the New York City Housing Authority.[18]

In popular culture[edit]

Kortunefookie at Art Under The Bridge in Dumbo
  • Jerry Seinfeld referred to Dumbo on a late-night talk show appearance, joking that it stands for "Down Under Manhattan Bridge", but that New Yorkers added the "O" at the end because they did not want to live in a neighborhood called "Dumb".[19]
  • Tracy Bonham wrote a song about her years in Dumbo on her CD Blink the Brightest, "Dumbo Sun".
  • The neighborhood is parodied in Grand Theft Auto IV as BOABO ("Beneath the Off-ramp of the Algonquin Bridge Overpass").
  • It is featured as a filming location in the film Killer's Kiss (1955), in the movie Vanilla Sky (2001), and in Big Bang's music video Blue (2012).
  • It is the residence of the Humphrey family on the television series Gossip Girl. The view from Washington Street appears very often to inform the viewer of the scenario change from Manhattan to Brooklyn.
  • Dumbo is the inspiration of Nacrene City in the Pokémon Black and White games.
  • Dumbo is featured prominently in the Sergio Leone drama film Once Upon a Time in America as the location for one of its pivotal scenes.
  • Dumbo appears on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit as a site of a runaway girl and a rave in season two.


  1. ^ "DUMBO Income in 2011". Retrieved 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Dolkart, Andrew S. et al. DUMBO Historic District Designation Report, New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (December 18, 2007)
  3. ^ a b c d Barnard, Anne (December 25, 2007). "Dumbo Journal: District Trying to Forge a New Identity". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  4. ^ a b "About Dumbo". Dumbo NYC, Brooklyn. DumboNYC.com. Retrieved 2012-12-10. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Graham, Jefferson. (2013, May 7). It's hip to be tech in Brooklyn's Dumbo. USA TODAY, p 5B.
  6. ^ a b "As It Turns Artistic, A Noirish Enclave Steps Into the Light". October 10, 1997. New York Times article by Peter Marks; accessed Nov. 12, 2010.
  7. ^ Dumbo - Soul of Brooklyn. "The DUMBO Arts Center was founded by Joy Glidden and under her direction from 1997-2006 has helped to establish a successful model for waterfront development that has been referred to and used internationally". Retrieved June 12, 2014.
  8. ^ "Landmarks Preservation Commission Designates Dumbo as New York City's 90th Historic District" (PDF) (Press release). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. December 18, 2007. Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  9. ^ Moore, Peter (February 18, 2004). "'Mr Chocolate' blazed a sweet trail for retailers - Jacques Torres Chocolates". Real Estate Weekly. Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  10. ^ Shaw, Joanna (November 29, 2011). "Pizza Madness: Grimaldi Taking Over Grimaldi's When Grimaldi Moves Next Door". Nona Brooklyn. Retrieved 2011-11-29. 
  11. ^ "FULTON FERRY; Some Landmarks Are Just Meant to Be a Problem". The New York Times. February 1, 2004. Retrieved 2011-04-29. 
  12. ^ The River Café
  13. ^ Allan Kozinn (1991-08-20). "Music in Review". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  14. ^ "New York Water Taxi Begins Service From Fulton Ferry". NY1. Retrieved 2006-11-27. 
  15. ^ "Empire Fulton Ferry". Archived from the original on 2012-10-14. Retrieved 2013-09-06. 
  16. ^ Calder, Rich (December 17, 2009). "Brooklyn Bridge Park finally set to open". New York Post. Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  17. ^ "Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg Open First Section of Brooklyn Bridge Park" (Press release). New York State. March 22, 2010. Retrieved 2012-04-04. 
  18. ^ The Editors (April 17, 2013). "Welcome to the Gilded City of New York". The Nation. Retrieved 2013-04-18. 
  19. ^ Jerry Seinfeld episode from 2001. The reference to Dumbo can be heard at the 0:26 mark in the video.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°42′11″N 73°59′22″W / 40.70306°N 73.98944°W / 40.70306; -73.98944