There is a (not so) hidden walkway through the backyards of majestic Brooklyn brownstones that leads to a stunning view of downtown Manhattan. I am, of course, talking about the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. If you’re not familiar with this underrated gem of a pathway leading from Remsen Street to the Brooklyn Bridge Park, then you should be. I recently had the pleasure of shooting Claudia and Angel’s Brooklyn Heights Promenade engagement photos, and in this week’s blog post I have all the details of how we captured their spectacular images.
Meet Claudia & Angel
Let’s start off by introducing you to Claudia and Angel. These two lovebirds are getting started early on their photos as their wedding won’t be until 2022. They met while working together at the iconic Nathan’s hot dog chain. While it took a while for love to bloom, one fateful night Angel asked Claudia if he could walk her home. That old-fashioned chivalry led to a pure New York-style date: pizza in a cardboard box, eaten in Brooklyn Bridge Park. While we didn’t include the pizza snack during their engagement shoot, we did recreate the ambiance and fun of that night during their photo session. These two laugh constantly, and I think the resulting photos are great signs of things to come for their wedding.
The History of the Brooklyn Heights Promenade
What we know today as the Brooklyn Heights Promenade began as the bluffs behind the private, wealthy residences of the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood. It wasn’t until Robert Moses set his sights on building the Brooklyn Queens Expressway down below that the promenade came to fruition as a public space.
With plenty of funding thanks to the WPA, Moses created the Brooklyn Heights Promenade to acquiesce the concerns of local residents. In particular, the Brooklyn Heights residents were alarmed that their neighborhood would be bisected just as the Carroll Gardens neighborhood had been by an earlier extension of the highway. Plans for the cantilevered highway were approved in 1943 and the promenade was finally completed as a public park in 1948. If you would like to read more fascinating details about the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood, then check out this article.
Recommended Locations – The Brownstones
There are two strategies for handling an engagement shoot in the area. You can either start off at the Brooklyn Bridge Park and work your way to the promenade for sunset, or vice versa. In the case of Claudia and Angel, their priorities were photos on the promenade, so we began their engagement shoot here.
If this is the route you are going to take, then I recommend starting at the entrance to the promenade on Remsen Street. The neighborhood is home to beautiful brownstones that have become the hallmark of Brooklyn architecture. These stately manors still retain their historical beauty, and to not include these homes in the background of your photo shoot would be crime. For Claudia and Angel’s shoot, there was a stately brownstone in the Remsen Street cul-de-sac that had a beautiful bunch of tulips blooming, so I started here.
Take a walk down Montague Terrace for your next set of photos. The brownstone located at 10 Montague Terrace is the grandest of all the homes on the street and should not be missed (check out the history of the place here). Personally, however, I think the sidewalk along the other side of the street is more scenic for wide shots. The brownstone at 1 Montague Terrace has some adorable cherubs over the doorway, and the twin brownstones located at 2/3 Pierrepont Place are beautiful as well. If you have some extra time, I also recommend checking out the façade and dramatic fire escape of the apartment building located at 62 Montague Street.
Recommended Locations – The Promenade
At the intersection of Montague Street and Montague Terrace, is where you should enter the Brooklyn Heights Promenade proper. The fenced in garden in the middle of the walkway always has something lovely blooming, and make sure you check out views both towards the promenade and back towards the neighborhood. If you look back towards the neighborhood, there is turreted apartment building that looks great in photos.
Next stop for my photo shoots on the promenade are walking photos and views of the Manhattan skyline. As you make your way towards the north end of the pathway, you will find lots of opportunities for bench shots and photos of the quaint apartments forming the backside of the promenade. At the end of the pathway is a globe-like sculpture that can provide some interesting perspective shots.
Recommended Locations – Pathway to Brooklyn Bridge Park
From here you wind around through the basketball court to the new pathway leading to Brooklyn Bridge Park. You are going to get your best shadow shots and wide angles here. Also, don’t neglect the new pathway: it is quite photogenic on its own and has the perfect deep view of the Manhattan skyline.
At this point you are in the Pier 3 Greenway Terrace of Brooklyn Bridge Park. My favorite locations on this side of the park are the dilapidated pylons near Pier 3, the far corner of the park with a view towards the Statue of Liberty, and the steps of the Granite Terrace.
There’s only one other spot you might check out on the Brooklyn Promenade, and that is the walkway to the promenade at Pineapple Street. This path offers a beautiful tree-lined perspective for photos. Unfortunately, the walkway was covered over in scaffolding during Claudia and Angel’s photo shoot.
One thing to note, the little shops along Montague Street are in a sad state at the moment. I found that there were quite a few shops closed, no doubt due to the pandemic. I’m in hopes that business will bounce back, but for the moment I wouldn’t waste your time with photos here.
Brooklyn Heights Promenade Engagement – Tips
There are two areas of concern for photos along Brooklyn Heights Promenade. The first is how bright it can be along the promenade walkway if you are not there during ‘golden hour.’ The second is dappled light thanks to all the overhead trees. Just keep an eye out for both issues and time your shoot for either just after sunrise or just before sunset. Also, note that you are subject to the full frontal force of wind coming off the waterfront. Plan for hair emergencies accordingly. During Claudia and Angel’s shoot it was exceptionally windy.
Finally, always be respectful of the homes in the area, and don’t take too much time on any staircase.
Enjoy the images and I’ll have more photo adventures for you next week!
If you like these Brooklyn Heights Promenade engagement photos, then check out images from Kate and Stuart’s session here.
Claudia’s beautiful dress is by Maje.
Interested in scheduling an engagement session? Drop me a line, and let’s chat about your photography needs.
If you would like to see more images from my engagement portrait portfolio, then please visit my website – KellyWilliamsPhotographer.com