Downtown Brooklyn

The sky’s the limit in Downtown Brooklyn, as many new commercial and residential buildings soar. Along Flatbush Avenue and within the triangle bordered by Schermerhorn St., shiny new rental and condo towers are replacing older structures at a breakneck pace. The lifestyle pace is also fast during the workweek, as office buildings, stores, and colleges fill with students, professionals, and workers. The evenings and weekends bring less foot trafficyet maintain an active vibe. While Downtown Brooklyn isn’t quite as dense and tall, it feels closer to Manhattan than most Brooklyn neighborhoods.

The building boom extends to exciting new commercial spaces as well. DeKalb Market Hall, featuring an outpost of Katz’s Deli, Arepa Lady, Ample Hills Ice Cream, and many more mouth-watering options, sits beneath the new City Point locations of Target, Trader Joe’s, Flying Tiger, and more popular retail. Alamo Drafthouse Cinemaoffers dine-in service and a bar. An Apple store opened in a futuristic glass structure at the base of a new residential building on the border of Fort Greene.

There are some fabulous older buildings in the neighborhood as well as the many new developments. Prices in Downtown are on the higher end for Brooklyn as a whole, but not quite as high as the quieter surrounding neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo, Fort Greene,Boerum Hill, and Carroll Gardens.

Just about every subway snakes through this well-positioned neighborhood, with only 1-2 stops into Manhattan.

Boerum Hill

Boerum Hill is a quaint, small, and surprisingly flat neighborhood at the hub of many vibrant Brooklyn destinations. Its tree-lined streets, spacious brownstones and townhouses, and easy access to all parts of the city make it an ideal neighborhood to come home to at the end of the day. Sections of Boerum Hill have been landmarked, and its residents, both long-time and newly arrived, take pride in preserving its historic buildings.

Shopping and Supping
Many blocks are residential, but business is booming on pretty Smith Street. Its restaurants draw foodies from all over Brooklyn; they come early for the shops and stay late to enjoy the lively, but not too wild, bar scene. Atlantic Ave., the area’s wide thoroughfare, is made more intimate by the fabulous shops of all kinds that line it’s wide sidewalks. City Foundry is a treasure trove of vintage and antique furniture and lighting. The Primary Essentials showcases locally made products. After wandering in and out of the shops, stop in to St. Gambrinus, a friendly and well-stocked craft beer shop and bar. The intimate and welcoming vibe of this neighborhood is most clearly manifested in its annual block parties. It’s also an easy stroll over to the surrounding neighborhoods of Fort GreeneProspect HeightsPark SlopeGowanus, Carroll Gardens, and Downtown, and all that they have to offer.

Coming, Going, and Nesting
Because the brownstones and townhouses of Boerum Hill are amongst the most desired in Brooklyn, the prices are high. They attract mid-career professionals and families looking for an easy commute to the city and a peaceful place to come home to. There are also some walk-ups that are somewhat more affordable.

Atlantic Ave. is a hub of transportation, with numerous subway lines passing through, and a railway station. There are also other subway stations within the neighborhood, making it very accessible.

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Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn HeightsA fabulous location and architectural elegance combine to give posh Brooklyn Heights a charming small-town feel. To appreciate this idyllic New York City neighborhood, stroll down a cobblestone street from the waterfront park and find a hidden courtyard lined with immaculately restored carriage houses. Architecture is paramount in this corner of the city. Every style, from mid-1800s row houses to early 20th century mansions, is represented in exquisitely maintained detail along the tree- and garden-lined streets. With the passage of the Landmarks Preservation Law of 1965, Brooklyn Heights became the first historic district in New York City; saving it from the misguided tastes and development of the era.

To Do, Eat and Buy
Brooklyn Bridge Park, spanning the entire length of the neighborhood along the bank of the East River and extending north to Dumbo, offers picture-perfect views of lower Manhattan from grassy lawns, piers, and promenades as well as sports facilities that include a roller rink. On summer evenings the park hosts outdoor concerts and movies.

The lifestyle here is upscale, yet relaxed. Commercial establishments are centered mainly on Montague Street. Cafés, restaurants, and wine bars cater to the neighborhood’s discerning clientele. High-end retail chains share blocks with local boutiques.

Pricey Digs and Class
Besides a very few luxury developments at its edges, housing stock is mainly single family or converted historic townhomes and mansions. Residents are mostly families and affluent professionals who can afford the hefty price tags, which rival the price of real estate in many Manhattan neighborhoods.

Commuting is a breeze by way of the many subway lines that pass through or are immediately adjacent to the area.

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BushwickAwash in “Cool”

Vogue magazine has named Bushwick the 7th coolest neighborhood on the planet. Creative types of all kinds looking to escape the gentrification and rising prices of Williamsburg have tumbled over the border to wreak artistic havoc on this previously neglected nabe. A stroll down almost any block on its western end is like walking through a giant modern art gallery; entire facades of many of the one or two story warehouses are covered with fantastic murals. Hidden behind an unmarked door and up some stairs is perhaps a very low-key performance space or a cutting-edge gallery.

Music venues and various informal performance spaces are everywhere. With over 50 galleries and hundreds of artist studios; Bushwick boasts the largest concentration of artists in the world. This is celebrated every June with Bushwick Open Studios, a 3 day arts and culture festival.

It’s said that a new barrestaurant, or coffee shop opens every week in Bushwick, and it has become a foodie haven. One of the most highly acclaimed restaurants in New York, unassuming Roberta’s always has a line down the block and a long wait.

The housing stock in Bushwick consists mostly of relatively affordable 2-3 story walkups in low brick buildings or wood frame townhouses as well as industrial loft spaces. There are also new buildings popping up with higher price tags. Between Central Ave. and Evergreen Ave. and between George St. and Jefferson St., the enormous Reingold Brewery site is being developed to contain 1,000 new apartments and lots of retail space.

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Carroll Gardens

Carroll GardensIncredible curb appeal and an impressive variety of small businesses contribute to the unique character of Carroll Gardens. This neighborhood got its name, in part, from the gardens planted between the sidewalk and the deep setback of the mostly 3 story homes. In the late 1800s, a law was passed stating that all homes in a large section of Carroll Gardens must have a front courtyard.

A Cultural Mini-Melting Pot
Carroll Gardens’ tight knit community is dedicated to preserving its various cultural identities. There are strong Italian, French, Irish, and Norwegian communities. These cultures are celebrated by the entire neighborhood. A Bastille Day party and accompanying pétanque tournament close Smith Street every year. Along Court Street are generations-old cobblers, delis, Italian butcher shops, and European bakeries.

Shops, Suds and Savories
While supporting its heritage, the Carroll Gardens’ thriving, diverse small business scene also embraces the trendy and fashionable. It’s a hotbed of indie clothing boutiques, artist collectives, and lots to do. The numerous acclaimed restaurants on Smith St. have earned it the nickname “Brooklyn’s Restaurant Row”. Cocktail bar Brooklyn Social and craft beer bar Bar Great Harry are among the inviting selection of casual nighttime options. The best microbrewery in New York, Other Half, crafts delicious beers that can be sampled in it’s popular tasting room. A short stroll to the surrounding neighborhoods of Cobble Hill and Gowanus affords an even wider range of possibilities.

And the Living is Easy
The bocce courts, playground, and free Wi-Fi at Carroll Park make it a popular gathering place. There are also a few small community gardens sprinkled throughout the neighborhood. The Carroll Gardens branch of the Brooklyn Public Library is very much a part of the community, offering readings, after school programs, and outstanding cultural events.

While much of Carroll Gardens remains single family or subdivided brownstones and row houses, new developments are cropping up in some areas in step with the neighborhood’s growing appeal. Prices here are somewhat lower than the average for Brooklyn.

Subway Lines: (Run right through the middle of the neighborhood)


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Cobble Hill

Cobble HillCobblestones pave many of the quaint, tree-lined streets of this mostly landmarked, pocket-sized yet vibrant neighborhood. While beautifully maintained brownstones on residential streets define much of Cobble Hill, at its borders it shares commercial stretches with neighboring Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill and Carroll Gardens. An eclectic mix of inviting eateries and boutiques interspersed with generations-old barbershops and meat markets along Court St. give the area a comfortable, laid-back vibe. On the corner of Atlantic Ave. and Court St. is popular grocery chain Trader Joe’s.

Cobble Hill attracts families as well as professionals across the age and industry spectrum who join long time residents of Dutch, Swedish, English, Native American, and Italian descent. Besides single family and multi-family brownstones, there are some boutique apartment buildings. Prices are higher than average for this coveted Brooklyn neighborhood, keeping it in line with the surrounding neighborhoods.

Subway Lines at its eastern edge):


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DumboWhen artists began taking over the large loft spaces in this tiny riverfront corner of the city in the 1970s, they wanted to dissuade gentrification, so they gave the area a name they thought no one would want to say they live in – Dumbo, an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. Not even the rumbling of the trains on that overpass could hold back the influx of people who appreciate the Old World charm of the rehabbed manufacturing buildings and warehouses along the cobblestone streets of this intimate, somewhat isolated enclave of only a few square blocks with its magnificent views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan.

Arts and Crafts
The pedestrian-friendly streets are dotted with quirky shops and cool spaces. Powerhouse Arena is not only a bookshop and home to an art book publisher, but also a gallery, a boutique, and a performance and events space. Independent music shop Halcyon specializes in marginally popular music styles mostly on vinyl and also operates as a listening den. Local up-and-coming fashion and jewelry designers’ wares are featured at Trunk. Online artisan marketplace Etsy is headquartered in an old carton factory and hosts an array of crafting workshops and tech lectures. St. Ann’s Warehouse presents innovative and highly influential theater and concerts.

Park It Here
Brooklyn Bridge Park, extending south into Brooklyn Heights along the East River, is the green jewel of the waterfront. Highlights of the park include the oversized, glass-enclosed antique Jane’s Carousel, which is enjoyed regularly by kids of all ages, a sand beach, a marina, walking and biking paths, and plenty of grass and play fields which also host concerts and outdoor film screenings. In this close-knit and creative neighborhood, there’s always something going on.

Sprinkled among the unique loft spaces that abound in Dumbo are some newer high-rises with full amenities and breathtaking views. Its proximity to Manhattan as well as its unique feel and waterfront siting create a demand that is reflected in the relatively high prices. Creatives and families co-exist here easily as both were attracted by the same quirky features of the neighborhood.

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. . . as well as the NY Waterway Ferry

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GowanusSandwiched between sought-after Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, Gowanus has more recently come into its own as a laid-back and very cool destination while retaining a healthy dash of grit. There is a certain beauty in the toxic colors of the Gowanus Canal, earning it the nickname “Lavender Lake.” Industrial and commercial buildings from when the canal was in use have been transformed into artist studios, event spaces, and concert venues, prompting the arrival of young artists and creative professionals as well as the hangouts they frequent. This creative energy is on display one weekend every fall during Gowanus Open Studios.

Business is Blooming
Independently owned businesses are opening every week in Gowanus. Pickle Shack is a bar/restaurant that serves craft beer and their own Brooklyn Brine pickles. Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, a neighborhood oasis, has full sized shuffleboard courts. At The Bell House, a converted 1920s factory building, there might be a bluegrass concert, a story slam, or a bacon takedown. Other Half Brewing produces some of the best craft beer in NYC, which can be enjoyed in their cozy tasting room. A mini restaurant row has emerged along upper 3rd Avenue featuring the rustic charms of Littleneck, The Pines, and Runner & Stone. The best pies, both savory and sweet, can be found at Four & Twenty Blackbirds. Surprisingly, smack in the middle of Gowanus is a huge new Whole Foods Market complete with a greenhouse and a hopping bar/restaurant scene on the roof.

Gowanus Real Estate
Housing stock in Gowanus is a mix of converted industrial and warehouse loft spaces, new developments that are popping up all over the neighborhood, and brownstones and row houses that have already undergone or are ripe for renovation. Prices are rising quickly along with the neighborhood’s caché, however they are still lower than the surrounding areas.

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GreenpointWhile Greenpoint has been feeling the incursion of trendy Williamsburg to the south, it proudly maintains its own distinct character. Since 2005, when new zoning laws paved the way for the conversion of low slung buildings from industrial to residential along the waterfront, the area has seen an influx of a young artsy crowd. There is also a strong Polish American presence in the area, with some of the best Polish restaurants and bakeries in the city concentrated around Manhattan and Nassau Avenues. Try kielbasa or pierogies at Lomzynianka or Karczma. The streets are clean and the mostly wood frame houses, often with colorful facades, are maintained with pride.

Parks and Rec

There are 3 lovely parks in Greenpoint: the new WNYC Transmitter Park on the waterfront; the 9 acre McGolrick Park which has beautiful mature trees and hosts a Sunday farmer’s market; and the 35 acre McCarren Park, which has an outdoor pool and recreation area and hosts summer films and concerts as well as a Saturday greenmarket.

Eat, Drink and . . .

Closer to the waterfront, some of the city’s best bars, restaurants and shops are thriving in repurposed industrial spaces. Torst has been named one of the best craft beer bars in the country, and its adjoining restaurant, Luksus, enjoys the distinction of being one of the top restaurants in the city. Tiny Brouwerij Lane is a favorite local watering hole. Greenpoint Beer and Ale, a popular brew pub with a large outdoor patio, is housed in an old industrial space. Paulie Gee’s serves some of the city’s best pizza from its wood burning oven. Industrial-chic restaurant Glasserie always draws a crowd. Independent bookshop Word hosts a wide variety of community events ranging from book clubs and readings to tastings, comedy nights, and craft workshops.

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The NY Waterway Ferry has a slip at India St.

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Park Slope

Park SlopeWith its beautifully maintained brownstones on picturesque tree-lined streets, fabulous parks, and many small local shops and eateries, Park Slope has a charming, family-friendly vibe. Strollers are at least as common as bicycles in this well-established neighborhood.

Food, Fun and Frolic

Victorian mansions on Prospect Park West mark a majestic entrance to Olmsted and Vaux’s masterpiece, Prospect Park. This 526-acre Brooklyn gem boasts a zoo, an Audubon center, a botanical garden, an ice rink, a band shell, a carousel, an intricate waterway system, a museum, a library, and dozens of recreational and athletic facilities. A few blocks to the west, Washington Park is a popular community meeting spot filled with the sounds of children in the playground or a musical performance drifting out from the Old Stone House. It also hosts a weekly farmer’s market.

Residents of Park Slope appreciate good food and fun. One of the oldest and largest food co-ops in the world, the Park Slope Food Co-op has about 15,000 members. Blue Apron stocks gourmet and artisanal foods from around the world and down the block. Dining options line 5th and 7th Avenues, from sidewalk cafes to top rated restaurants like al di la. The nightlife scene is relaxed yet robust. Craft beer bars like Mission Dolores dot the area and sometimes present live music. Union Hall is packed nightly with young professionals playing bocce or catching a late night comedy or music show. Nearby Gowanus and Prospect Heights also offer plenty of night life options.

Books and Boutiques
Shops in Park Slope are also fun and eclectic. Vintage, independent label, and superhero duds can all be found at the many boutiques in Park Slope. Bird is a favorite destination for fine and funky fashion. Readings, book groups, and various events are offered at Community Bookstore. Handcrafted goods are lovingly displayed at Homebody Boutique.

A Residential Potpourri
The housing stock in Park Slope consists mostly of brownstones that have been converted into multi-unit walk-ups or have been renovated as single-family homes. There are also pre-war co-ops and sleek new developments along 4th Avenue. Prices here are above average for Brooklyn, though they are a bit lower in the southern section of the neighborhood.

Subway Lines (at the neighborhood’s outer boundaries):


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