Those who travel to New York for the first time want to conquer the urban canyons of Manhattan, stroll along the famous 5th Avenue, stroll through Central Park, enjoy the view from the iconic Empire State Building, and soak up art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You can spend weeks in Manhattan and still not see all the sights. Those who come to New York more often will sooner or later be drawn to Brooklyn via the East River. Our author Alexandra explored the hip district of New York and brought back lots of insider tips: from vintage shopping to beautiful cafés, restaurants and places away from the photo spots.
When Miranda Hobbes casually mentions on an episode of Sex and the City that she’s likely to give up her apartment on the Upper West Side and move to Brooklyn, it’s tantamount to a confession. In Carrie Bradshaw she triggers sheer horror: “I can’t even say it, let alone live there. There aren’t even taxis going there!”
That was in 2004. Today, Brooklyn’s image has changed fundamentally. The district has developed into a center for art, culture and cuisine and has become a magnet for young, creative people from all over the world. A trip to New York City shouldn’t be complete without a trip to Brooklyn – and not just for the breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline. I’ll take you to the sights and show you real insider tips in the neighborhoods of Brooklyn.
East Williamsburg and Bushwick: industrial chic and street art
While Williamsburg isn’t the alternative neighborhood it once was, a stroll along Bedford Avenue is still worthwhile. For Williamsburg tips, see my article A Day in New York: Little Tips for the Big Apple .
If you like it “edgy”, take the L-Train a few stops further to Morgan Avenue. Some call the former industrial area Morgantown, others East Williamsburg. Some say it’s no man’s land, others insist it’s part of Bushwick. What is undisputed: The former no-go zone is now one of the largest open-air galleries in New York. Murals by well-known graffiti artists adorn the walls of derelict industrial sites and the gates of factories and warehouses on Moore Street, Grattan Street, White Street, Siegel Street, Troutman Street and around Flushing Avenue.
The initiator of the whole thing is Joseph Ficalora. As a child, he spent afternoons on the roof of his father’s steel factory, one of the few places outside where he felt safe. In 1991, Joseph’s father was stabbed to death on the street for a handful of dollars and a gold necklace. Joseph never got over this and in 2011 he started the Bushwick Collective art project , with which he wanted to give Bushwick a new look. To do this, he invited world-famous graffiti artists.
After the murals came galleries like Ketchup Gallery , The Parlor Bushwick and Sardine , cafés like Swallow Café and Ange Noir Café , restaurants like Roberta’s , Falansai and Otis , and bars like Rebel Café & Garden , The Narrows and After Life . My favorite for an All American Breakfast: Tina’s Place , an institution that’s been serving up the best blueberry pancakes in Bushwick for more than 80 years.
What’s the best way to get to East Williamsburg? Take the L train to Morgan Avenue or Jefferson Street.
South Williamsburg: Home of the Hasidic Satmarer Jews
Strolling through southern Williamsburg between Division Avenue, Heyward Street and the Brooklyn Navy Yard, you will find yourself in a world that seems removed from the rest of New York’s galaxies. Lee Avenue is lined with Judaica shops, liquor stores selling kosher wine, delis smelling of knish and herring, hardware and clothing stores with windows straight out of a 1950s movie. On the street, women in wigs and long, wide skirts push old-fashioned prams in front of them. Men in black coats, tall hats, and sidelocks, prayer books in hand, scurry across the intersection and disappear into the Rodney Street synagogue.
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South Williamsburg is the center of the Satmar Hasidim, an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic faith group whose name derives from the Romanian town of Satu Mare. The Satmar Jews in Williamsburg live completely isolated, have their own banks, schools and doctors. Visitors are hardly noticed, but you should move with special care. If you want to try Jewish cuisine , South Williamsburg is the place to be. Gottlieb’s Restaurant on Roebling Street offers gigantic pastrami sandwiches, while Oneg Heimish Bakery on Lee Avenue below Heyward Street serves gooey-sweet chocolate babka.
How do I get to South Williamsburg? Take the J, M, and Z lines to Marcy Avenue.
Park Slope: Prospect Park and Brownstone Homes
If you want to compare Brooklyn to Manhattan, you could say that Park Slope is the equivalent of the West Village. Except that Park Slope has another huge park, Prospect Park. Come here on a sunny Saturday afternoon to jog, bike, walk the dog, watch the kids play soccer or have a picnic in the sun.
Park Slope is laid-back, family-friendly, and a great spot for people-watching at sidewalk cafes. This is best done on 5th and 7th Avenues, where there are many individual eateries and shops. Some of the most popular cafes include Cafe Grumpy , Velvette Brew , and Couleur Cafe . When you get hungry, the Casa Azul tempts you with exquisite Mexican delicacies, and the Brookvin for a glass of wine . Vintage shopping is also popular in Park Slope, for example at L Train Vintage , Slope Vintage or Almost New Vintage Clothing .
An absolute must is a stroll through the side streets, because here you will find the typical New York sandstone houses with the staircases, which you also know from Sex and the City. Park Slope was settled by the Dutch in the 17th century. The Old Stone House dates from this period and is a great place to learn more about Park Slope’s history. The Old Stone House was once the clubhouse of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Park Slope extends from Prospect Park to 4th Avenue and from Flatbush Avenue to the Prospect Expressway.
What’s the best way to get to Park Slope? Take the F and G trains to 15 St Prospect Park, 2 and 3 trains to Grand Army Plaza.
Carroll Gardens: Between historic and hip
Another must-see neighborhood in Brooklyn is Carroll Gardens, named after the signer of the Declaration of Independence, Charles Carroll. At the beginning of the 19th century, mainly Irish and Norwegians settled here, followed by Italian immigrants. The heart of Carroll Gardens beats on Court Street and Smith Street . Local flair runs through both parallel streets, Italian bakeries alternate with flower and organic shops, hip vintage shops and indie designer boutiques. With plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants to choose from, here are a few names to remember: Poetica Coffee , D’Amico , Buttermilk Channel , Court Street Grocers, Kittery, Frankies 457 Spuntino.
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Carroll Gardens’ partially heritage-listed blocks stretch from Bond Street to Van Brunt Street and from Degraw Street to Hamilton Avenue. It’s always worth turning down the side streets, because Carroll Gardens also has the brownstone houses that are typical of many corners of Brooklyn.
How do I get to Carroll Gardens? Take the F and G trains to Carroll Street.
Cobble Hill: European heritage and plenty of brunch spots
If you think Carroll Gardens, it couldn’t get any prettier – yes, it can, and that’s in Cobble Hill, which borders Carroll Gardens and stretches between Court Street and East River and Atlantic Avenue and Degraw Street. Cobble Hill features particularly well-preserved 19th-century brownstones and townhouses, some in the Neo-style, which draw on elements of Greek, Gothic and Roman architecture.
Some of the finest examples are on Clinton Street, Henry Street, Warren Place and Amity Street. Cobble Hill is very European, with Italian and French heritage in particular. Life happens on Court Street . Lavishly topped bagels are available at Court Street Bagels , sweet and crunchy cannoli like in Sicily at the Court Pastry Shop , and Maman is the perfect place for a coffee break . Many places, such as Kitchen at Cobble Hill and Big Tiny, offer weekend brunches. Those interested in sustainable fashion should stop by Rue St. Paul .
How do I get to Cobble Hill? Take the F and G line to Bergen Street.
Dumbo: Manhattan Bridge and food in old warehouses
Dumbo is an acronym for “Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass” and is synonymous with the typical history of many former industrial sites. Due to the favorable location on the East River and the two ferry lines to Manhattan, more and more manufacturing companies settled in Dumbo in the course of the 19th century. When they turned their backs on New York in the 1970s and the halls in which coffee, boxes, soaps, shoes, paints and sugar were once made and stored stood empty, artists found a new home here. Today there are chic lofts, creative companies, galleries, small shops and pretty restaurants in the historic department stores.
Most people come to Dumbo for the Washington Street Instagram photo spot . Admittedly, the view of the Manhattan Bridge from this perspective is something very special. If you want to enjoy the view of the Manhattan Bridge with the Manhattan skyline in the background in a more private setting, head for John Street Park and then walk under the bridge. Brooklyn Bridge Park begins there . At the tip of Pebble Beach, you get your first glimpse of the Brooklyn Bridge. After a ride on Jane’s Carousel , a restored 1922 children’s carousel, make a culinary stop at Time Out Marketand strolling the cobbled streets of Dumbo.
How do I get to Dumbo? Take the F line to York Street.
Brooklyn Heights: Brooklyn Bridge und die Skyline von Manhattan
Brooklyn Bridge Park extends to Atlantic Avenue and is the green oasis of Brooklyn Heights. Reading, barbecuing, exercising on a blanket in the grass, and all this with a gigantic view of the downtown Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge – priceless! If you want to enjoy this view with a drink, you should make a reservation at Harriet’s Rooftop at the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge near Pier 1. The postcard panorama of the Brooklyn Heights Promenade is free.
Brooklyn Heights is bounded by Old Fulton Street, Cadman Plaza West, Atlantic Avenue and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. American writers such as Arthur Miller, Walt Whitman and Truman Capote, who wrote “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” on Willow Street, already knew that Brooklyn Heights is a good place to live. Brooklyn Heights was the first neighborhood in Brooklyn to be listed as a historic monument in 1965. With their 19th-century brownstones, the “fruit streets” of Orange Street, Cranberry Street and Pineapple Street are an architectural gem. College Place and Grace Court Alley are also worth a detour. Townhouses with colorful wooden facades can be found on Joralemon Street. Who wonders why the windows of number 58 are blacked out: the house is not inhabited,
The new darling in café heaven is L’Appartement 4F . When hunger calls: One restaurant follows the next on Atlantic Avenue. Be sure to visit Pips for the oyster happy hour and let yourself be pampered with Italian specialties afterwards. Then revisit the piers and admire the illuminated Manhattan skyline on a nighttime stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge, which opened in 1883 as the world’s first steel wire suspension bridge. A perfect New York moment! The walk across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan takes about 45 minutes.
How do I get to Brooklyn Heights? Take Line A or C to High Street.
Even more insights into the neighborhoods of Brooklyn
- What neighborhoods are in Brooklyn?
Brooklyn neighborhoods include Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Clinton Hill, Dumbo, Fort Greene, Fulton Ferry, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and Vinegar Hill.
- What is typical of Brooklyn?
Typical of Brooklyn are the so-called brownstone houses, which are townhouses made of brown sandstone from the 19th century.
- Which is better: Brooklyn or Manhattan?
Brooklyn and Manhattan can only be compared to a limited extent. If you are in New York for the first time, you will first explore Manhattan and, due to time constraints, limit yourself to the Brooklyn Bridge and the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. If you have more time or have been to New York several times, four or five days in Brooklyn are warmly recommended.
- What’s the best way to get to the Brooklyn Bridge?
In Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge Pedestrian Walkway begins at the intersection of Tillary Street and Boerum Place. The pedestrian walkway can also be accessed via a stairway in the underpass at the corner of Cadman Plaza East and Prospect Street.
- Is Brooklyn expensive?
In Brooklyn you have to dig just as deep into your pocket as in Manhattan, which is not only due to the dollar exchange rate, but also to the generally high price level in New York. Rents in many Brooklyn neighborhoods even exceed those in Manhattan.
- Is Brooklyn Safe for Tourists?
The Brooklyn neighborhoods mentioned in the article are now safe for tourists. Of course, as always when travelling, you should use common sense and take care of your valuables.
- What do you eat in Brooklyn?
In Brooklyn there are thousands of restaurants of different nationalities, for example Polish in Greenpoint, Caribbean in Flatbush, Latin American in Bushwick. Legendary are the hot dogs at Nathan’s in Coney Island and the cheesecake at Junior’s on Flatbush Avenue . Bagel & Lox is a must, as is a pastrami sandwich.