Say New York City, and visions of Central Park, Wall Street and Broadway come to mind. Over the years, however, the city has undergone rapid gentrification and NYC boroughs are slowly emerging from Manhattan’s chic shadow. Brooklyn, about a 30-minute subway ride from Manhattan, is one such neighbourhood that has gone from hipster to hip in recent times.
Once considered a Mecca for hippies, growing Manhattan families and affordable housing, Brooklyn’s newer neighbourhoods offer an alternate, easy-going vibe. Areas like Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, Williamsburg and Carroll Gardens are abuzz with young residents. The streets are tree-lined, with gorgeous brownstones on either side.
On a typical summer afternoon, you’ll find groups of people lounging on the wide sidewalks, holding fire-sales or impromptu gigs on the stoops, riding their bikes on the streets and taking in the day. Body art, piercings and everything non-conformist is the norm here. Unlike Manhattan’s stuffiness, Brooklyn has a laidback air and is closer to San Francisco in its spirit.
While Manhattan has bigger museums, parks and restaurants, Brooklyn has a lot of culture. This is a neighbourhood for street food, interacting with the locals and bargaining at thrift stores.
A Sunday in Brooklyn
NYC has so much to see but you’d be missing out if you didn’t make time for Brooklyn.
Start your day with a big breakfast in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Scratchbread (1069 Bedford Avenue) has the best bakery in town. Head over to the nearby East River State Park, which offers picturesque views of the city. And also plays host to a flea market.
Spend the afternoon in the trendy Park Slope where there’s something for everybody. Grab a pizza at the appropriately named Tomato & Basil (226 4th Ave, between Union St & President St) and go vintage shopping at the many thrift stores there.
In the evening, head over to Williamsburg for some entertainment. If you make it before 4 pm, become a part of Brooklyn history by posing for the Styleblaster live blog’s camera (in a window on 234 Driggs Ave, a block from the L train Bedford Avenue stop). It was set up as a culture project in October 2012 and captures street styles. After dark, Bedford Avenue is where the action is, with bars and pubs dotting the area. Be sure to check the vibe of the place you’re about to visit before you order your first round though.
Spot the borough in pop culture
* Popular TV show Girls revolves around four youngsters living in Brooklyn.
* TV show 2 Broke Girls is about two broke girls living in Williamsburg.
* In Sex And The City, Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon) moves to Brooklyn after getting married.
* Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem For A Dream (2000) was about drug addicts living in the neighbourhood.
* NYC legend Woody Allen, who spent his childhood in Brooklyn, has also shot parts of his films, including Annie Hall (1977) and Radio Days (1987), in the borough.