04 December 2007

The Cripplebush Ghost Tour

A few weeks ago, I was waiting for a bus. It was a weekend, so I had to endure longer-than-usual wait times. I started looking at everything around me to make it go faster. When I looked to my left, I saw this:


It reads: "A Ghost Lives Here. To learn about who this place was named after, text the 4-digit code below to the following phone number." The little caption to the right of the written-in code says "A little neighborhood history brought to your cell phone by Cripplebush Ghost Tour." Naturally I text messaged the code to the phone number. Seconds later, I got this text message (For the record, I was standing somewhere on Driggs Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.):

Edmund Driggs. Last President of the Village of Williamsburgh before it became part of the City of Brooklyn in 1855. Died 1891.

Two thoughts ran through my head:

1. There must be more of these, hence the code written in marker, and
2. This must have been one hell of a boring brief (maybe something like "help raise awareness among Brooklyn residents of the history behind the neighborhoods"), if there was one.

And look what they did! How neat! I wanted to run home immediately to look this thing up and find the rest of the stickers. And here it is, the Cripplebush Ghost Tour. It's pretty much what I thought: it teaches us about the people behind the names of the streets, parks and other landmarks that Williamsburg and Greenpoint residents walk by all the time. Here is what the web site has to say about it...

Nicholas Bayard and John Lorimer Graham never met in real life, but their ghosts meet everyday as the streets named after them intersect in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. All around us are streets and public spaces named after local landowners, real estate speculators, politicians, artists, and activists - people we aspire to be, people we forgot long ago. What does it mean to be surrounded by all these names, these stories, these ghosts?

The Cripplebush Ghost Tour leads participants through the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Greenpoint by the names of their landmarks. Who was Edmund Driggs of Driggs Avenue? Patrick McCarren of McCarren Park Pool? Harry Van Arsdale Jr. of Harry Van Arsdale High School? Through both guided and self-guided experiences, participants directly engage with local history, explore spaces in new ways, and interact with friends and strangers in an area originally called "Cripplebush" for the dense thickets that once dominated the landscape.

At one point there was a guided tour as well, with chalk trails leading to the different stickers:

There is also a Google Map showing where all the stickers are. Neat neat neat. There is a section on the web site with all the ghosts and snippets about them, in case people don't get to experience the campaign in its true form. I imagine this is most interesting to those who are familiar with these streets and places.

The Cripplebush Ghost Tour was inspired by the Yellow Arrow project, which will make sense to those who are familiar with it. You know, now that I read through the entire site, I'm not sure there was a brief. This seems like it could have been organized and put together by a group of people who just felt like it... and that's even cooler.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...