Let’s talk about Brooklyn.
The last time I was in New York I met and spent a little time with another blogger Crepes of Wrath and she gave me a little advice on where to stay next time I’m in the city and it was over the Hudson. Having been to New York a handful of times and while nothing and no one trumps Manhattan for me, it was good advice to step into a place I’d actually only spent a few hours in previously.
Brooklyn is the cooler cousin across the Hudson attached by a few rather cool and separate identities of culture also known as bridges (search for Williamsburg bridge under Instagram and you’ll see what I mean). If it were a family member it would be the quieter one who wouldn’t tell you much until you got to know it and that is what makes it a perfect place to visit. You have to really get on the ground and walk through the borough.
Areas of Brooklyn have exploded in cool factor over the last decade thanks to gentrification and people moving across the river to a more suburban neighborhood feel that is so welcome in the city that never sleeps. Locals sit on their steps saying “good morning” or “hello” to whomever crosses past their stoop. There is a sense of community in Brooklyn, despite it’s vast size and different cultures. It feels more compact than it is and the people feel more welcoming than across the river.
Brooklyn is in fact New York’s most populous borough and it’s history stems back to the 17th Century. Brooklyn played a role in the Civil War in 1776 when George Washington, as the Commander and Chief of the Continental Army entrenched himself in New York and Brooklyn in March 1776. The fight between the British and the Americans resulted in George Washington evacuating his troops from Brooklyn Heights in a single night which to this day is seen a brilliant triumph by historians.
Brooklyn was it’s own city until January 1 1898 until it was linked to Kings County and then officially became a borough of New York City. It had its own scars and personality before being united with the larger New York so it’s long and expanding personality is its own and it’s just as open to show you who it is as any of the other boroughs.
While the Brooklyn Bridge is by far the most famous between Manhattan and Brooklyn, there are in fact two other bridges that link the two boroughs together and as the header image proves, the Williamsburg bridge has a reputation that spans longer than it’s steel. This was never more evident than stepping foot on this bridge with it’s pink painted steel and graffiti that recognizes it’s position amongst places to see in the borough.
If you want a taste of the real New York, the home where the real people of the city live and breathe. Below the massive skylines of gray lies families who lived and breathed their entire lives in this city and most don’t step foot into Manhattan unless they work there so hanging out in the other boroughs allows to see a quieter more community New York. It allows you to see a different part of it’s soul that isn’t as rough or tough as you may have experienced or imagined previously.
It’s lives and breathes in color with artworks of different forms of paint on walls and trucks. Basically any surface that an artist feels is too dull and white is colored with vibrant colors and there are so many to be seen that you could spend a week just capturing artworks.
One of the must see places is Prospect Park, designed by the same landscape architects who crafted Central Park and it has features that lend themselves to the same era. Lamps clearly from the 19th century now with vines of green wrapped around the posts. Statues and fountains of another time when the world was churning towards faster and more advanced means to live.
Streets are varied with many having industrial buildings and homes side-by-side and it’s interesting to see people’s yards next to shops that are next to industrial yards. There are many neighborhoods still in the process of becoming gentrified and sure enough if the same streets were walked in a decade a quarter would surely look vastly different as Bushwick and Williamsburg run out of living space.
Now for some food of the borough, a list I didn’t complete, but that was obviously not going to happen anyhow. My first night near Williamsburg and despite my lack of hunger I walked into a restaurant called Eastwick and ordered a small salad and mac and cheese as I’d barely eaten all day. This was so good that the whole meal I tried to figure out what was in the dressing of the salad as it has to have been one of the best green salads I may have ever tasted. This also went for the mac and cheese, both had depth in such simple dishes.
My first meal in Brooklyn was a beginning of great eating in the borough filled with just as many restaurants as downtown Manhattan. The next day afternoon brunch was enjoyed at Buttermilk Channel that is moving up the lists of ‘best places to eat’ and it’s obvious the secret of how good the food is has gotten out with a two hour wait to eat lunch.
A Saturday morning class at Momofuku Milk bar allowed all us bakes the chance to take home our own Crack Pie. Only two hours long and thoroughly enjoyable it doesn’t matter what level you are, it’s worth giving one of their classes a go.
Walking from Williamsburg to Red Hook allowed for a lot to be seen and I was on a mission to experience Baked. With sprinkles in the window of their kitchen and cabinets full of sweet and savory delights its obvious why it’s a popular spot.
Brooklyn may not have the bright lights of it’s neighbor, but it more than enough makes up for it in vibrant colors and changing neighborhoods. It makes up for the lack of skyscrapers with friendly people who will give you a “hello” in their time of day.
Brooklyn’s the kind of neighborhood that will keep you busy and well fed. It will show you a different New York, a smaller New York. One that is in indie movies and not blockbusters and it’s best to get on your feet and wander through the suburbs to enjoy it’s bold colors yourself.
NYC Go has a list of the neighborhoods in Brooklyn that you can delve further into for your visit.
The second largest museum in New York is the Brooklyn Art Museum, which should be a stop while in town.
If you are on a budget, here is a list from The Guardian, and half the things on the list can be found in the borough.
Lovely Stefanie has created a one day guide on what to do if you have limited time in the city.