The hipster enclave in Brooklyn that you need to know about
Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighbourhood is the Pied Piper that’s luring creative young folks.Updated: Nov 01, 2018 15:00 IST
A twenty-minute cab ride across the Queensborough bridge from Manhattan, and I’m in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighbourhood, curious to see what the younger set is going on about.
It’s October, fiercely cold and yet the brilliant sun feels like a billion-watt torchlight in my eyes. Rows of tall, handsome, terraced houses called brownstones stand shoulder to shoulder, as though they’re in attention at an army inspection. Leafy trees animate the street scenes, as do the imaginatively installed Halloween props of ghosts, ghouls, witches, skeletons, cobwebs and carved pumpkin lanterns on the stoops of the houses.
The shops, restaurants, cafes and galleries are concentrated on Bedford, Berry and Briggs streets, where you might run into a film set, and most certainly will run into trendy hipsters with their thick, groomed, statement beards.
In the adjoining areas, colourful murals are splashed across giant facades, exuding a relaxed, arty feel.
Young folks hanging out at the lobby of the Hoxton Hotel, Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Further, by the East River waterfront, the large warehouses that once offloaded ships have been converted to design hotels and swish apartment buildings clad in terracotta bricks, whose floor to ceiling windows, balconies and rooftops encompass all the romance of the classic Manhattan skyline and a series of necklace-like bridges. The gentrification of the area is instantly palpable.
The Canarsee Indians, it is said, were the very first residents of these woods, now called Brooklyn. The area was taken over by Dutch migrants in the late 17th century, who came from Breuckelen, near Utrecht. The most recent wave of residents are well heeled, on-the-verge-of-breakthrough, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed youngsters.
An independent shop on Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg.
A CREATIVE HAVEN
Time and again, when young talent simply got priced out of Manhattan’s neighbourhoods people moved to lower rents in adjoining areas. Williamsburg and the pockets surrounding it such as Greenpoint, Dumbo and Bushwick have been so infused with creativity, they’ve evoked a unique atmosphere that makes their music venues, bars, boutiques and little restaurants all the more desirable.
‘It’s a different ethos here in Brooklyn, that we intend to protect fiercely.’ said a young man working at the stylish new Hoxton Hotel, the new epicenter and hangout space. ‘There’s a mellow vibe with liberal attitudes and a laid back feel. Here, time is more elastic, the people are kinder, we’re less corporate and more entrepreneurial. We value the open skies and quieter streets that are not overrun with tourists and chain stores.’
Rooftop views of Brooklyn bridge and Manhattan.
I look around the high-ceiling lobby area set with pink velvet armchairs and cool ceramic bric-a-brac, where entrepreneurial youngsters pad away on their laptops sipping almond milk coffee and nibbling vegan snacks. Outside, even the taxicabs are painted green.
While the Brooklyn folks find little need to to visit the all too hectic island of Manhattan for weeks on end, New York’s millennials can’t stay away from Williamsburg’s magic, especially the edgy house and techno beats at venues such as Output, Schimanski, Brooklyn Steel and The Music Hall of Williamsburg, where they dance to live music or enjoy some of the world best DJ’s and their cutting edge acoustic systems. There’s nothing quite like grabbing a bite at Five Leaves restaurant where the tables spill out on the street, partying all night, then taking the East Ferry home just as the Midas touch of the morning rays turn all of Manhattan into gold. I totally get it.
The Hoxton, 97 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn. www.thehoxton.com
The Wythe Hotel- 80Wythe Ave at North 11th St. www.wythehotel.com
Five Leaves. 18 Bedford Avenue 718. 383 5345
Lilia- a popular dining spot in abakery, dinner only. www.lilianenewyork.com
Music and Dance-
Brooklyn Steel -319 Front St, Williamsburg.
Output, 74 Wythe st and 9th Ave.
Music Hall of Williamsburg- 66N 6th st Kent Avenue.
Du’s Donuts 107 North 12th St.
Stand alone stores-
Simple Goods combines a small restaurant with a shop selling stylish French Andean and local homewares and personal use goods.
Norbu- a cornucopia of delicate jewelry pieces. 232A Bedford Avenue www.norbu.us
Homewares- Mociun Home and Sprout Home.
First Published: Nov 01, 2018 14:44 IST