Brooklyn is the biggest borough in New York, and America’s fourth-largest neighborhood with more than 30 communities, hosting 2.6 million residents. It is the home of the greats. Unsurpassed rappers, actors, designers, movie stars, hipsters, best pizza, Brooklyn’s NETS, Peter Luger’s steak house, scariest Cyclone ride, and the best hot dogs in town.
There are so many good reasons to cross the bridge and visit this insiders-only borough, distinct and unique, boasting it’s own flavor. Brooklyn is rich in history, a melting pot of different cultures. It is a hot, trendy and pricey place to live, holding equity better than a blue-chip stock. It sits at the nexus of historical landmarks, trendy bars and hip restaurants, edgy stores, charming coffee shops, futuristic fitness studios, forward-thinking galleries, and insane views of the Manhattan skyline spanning across the East River.
The days of Brooklyn taking a back seat to Manhattan are long gone. Brooklyn has 700 arts and cultural institutions, including the Barclay Center and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, making it one-stop shopping for lovers of the performing arts.
Brooklyn’s history is saturated with innovative breakthroughs. Some products that were invented and patented in Brooklyn include Twinkie, Sweet’N’Low, Nathan’s hot dogs, teddy bears and the country’s first iconic Cyclone roller coaster at Coney Island, which is just 90 years old.
When the Dutch settled in western Long Island, they established a village, which are the present-day neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO. They called it “Breukelen,” after the town of Breukelen in Holland, which means broken land in Dutch.
The borough’s official motto is Een Draght Mackt Maght, which translates as “In unity there is strength.”
A fascinating destination to visit and exciting place to live, Brooklyn is a dynamic NYC hub, and it is widely considered to be one of the “It” places in the world right now.
Red Hook, once a tough, gang-infected South Brooklyn neighborhood and home of the legendary crime boss Al Capone, has become trendy-cool. It now houses expensive art galleries, funky bars, the best lobster shack, a sprawling Fairway Market and the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal.
Williamsburg, often called “the new Soho,” hosts many aspiring and established artists and musicians, as well as successful professionals. In the 1900s Williamsburg prospered and was a hotbed of industrial growth. It was the home of Astral Oil, which later became part of Standard Oil. Charles Pratt, whose family founded the Pratt Institute, a respected school of art and architecture, launched the company. Corning Glass Works was founded in Williamsburg, as was Pfizer Pharmaceutical, founded by chemist Charles Pfizer and his cousin Charles Erhart. The area was also known as Brewers’ Row as it was home to dozens of breweries.
For more than three decades, the Park Slope area has been a hot neighborhood with hopping shopping streets, new eclectic restaurants, and large, landmark, turn-of-the-century brownstones housing trendy urban artists, musicians, filmmakers and a mix of fast trackers and media professionals.
Winter holidays take a stand in Dyker Heights, the Italian-American section of Brooklyn, made famous in the PBS documentary Dyker Lights, as seen on TLC’s “Crazy Christmas Lights.” The multimedia decorations, millions of lights synchronized to music, and the largest 15 feet tall Santa all spell Christmas meets Las Vegas and will take your breath away.
One of the coolest museums in the entire city, The New York Transit Museum, located in downtown Brooklyn, offers an opportunity to see what subways were like back when a ride cost a nickel. This museum is a particularly cool experience. Its entrance is a faux-subway station, and it’s the largest museum devoted to urban public transportation history in the country.
The oldest building in New York City, the Wyckoff Farmhouse, in Canarsie, built in 1637 by Pieter Claesen (who later changed his name to “Wyckoff.”) The Wyckoff family actually used the property for eight successive generations, until the home was sold to developers in 1901. New York City’s Dutch history is one of the things that sets it apart from the rest of colonial America, and a visit to the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum can illustrate the Dutch influence even further.
Not everything is odd in Brooklyn. There are also bars and restaurants with unique concepts. With that said, it comes to mind a visit to Achilles Heel, a waterfront Greenpoint bar that is open as early as 8 AM, so you can get there early and spend the better part of the day lingering over a Hemingway daiquiri or two. Then stop off at the River Styx and indulge in fava beans and braised pork, just like the ancient Greeks. Feel free to end your night with a ride on the East River Ferry to Dumbo, where you can sip cappuccino with their famous chocolate mousse cake, at the River Café. It doesn’t taste as good as it looks, but it is a real architectural chocolate masterpiece rendering of the Brooklyn Bridge. The view is definitely worth the price.
“It doesn’t matter where I live, I’m gonna always be from Brooklyn.”
Brooklyn has played an immense part in the development of hip-hop music, which is why there are so many “Brooklyn songs” in existence. Music artists such as Jay-Z, Lil Kim, Mos Def, The Beastie Boys and the late Notorious B.I.G., among many others, have put their beloved hood on the rap map.
The “Engine of Industrial Innovation,” the Brooklyn Navy Yard, is the 300-acre industrial park on the Brooklyn waterfront. It is home to over 300 industrial businesses today. It was once a thriving naval base that also included a hospital. During WWII (1939-1945) it employed 70,000 people, and women were hired for the first time to work as mechanics and technicians.
Today, the Yard’s industrial sectors feature commercial artists, artisans, and woodworkers, serving the city’s cultural institutions and housing markets; entertainment, film and media anchored by the largest film studios on the East Coast; e-commerce fulfillment; high-end designers, combined with on-site manufacturing; maritime ship repair; and warehouse distribution.
And to top it all off, whiskey making returned in 2012, with the arrival of the Kings County Distillery. It makes bourbon from organic corn, rather more precious but perhaps just as distinctive as the famed Irishtown rum. The neighborhood’s ghosts would feel triumphant: The distillery is located in the 117-year-old Paymaster Building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
The Brooklyn Army Terminal is also known as the U.S. Army Military Ocean Terminal and the Brooklyn Army Base. It was the largest military supply base in the United States through WWII. The 95-acre complex has embarked over 3 million soldiers and 37 million tons of military supplies.
Brooklyn Bridge Park is now one of the jewels of the Brooklyn waterfront, built atop formerly fallow industrial piers and waterfront land Brooklyn Bridge Park is an example of a quintessential New York City trend: Tom Fruin’s glass water tower, atop 334 Furman Street, which is an iconic element of the NYC skyline.
The newly reopened Brooklyn Kings Theater in Flatbush was one of the five Loew’s Wonder Theaters in the New York City area. The Kings Theatre had been closed since 1977 and had fallen into such disrepair that it cost $95 million to rehabilitate it.
The former Domino Sugar factory is one of the most impressive landmarks along the Williamsburg waterfront. It has been undergoing a transformation into mixed-use development, under the direction of developer Two Trees, which partnered with North Brooklyn Farms for the creation of a temporary organic farm on the property, for curious visitors to come and browse.
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge, rent a Citibike to bike straight to Coney Island, where the oldest operating aquarium in the U.S. offers breakfast with the penguins.
And then, get weird at the House of Yes in Bushwick, an art gallery-cabaret, circus, cocktail lounge, and falafel joint. It will blow your mind!
“There’s the skyline of New York on the back of my jacket.”
Woody Allen, Foxy Brown, Steve Buscemi and Mel Brooks—these Brooklynites were either raised in the borough before making it big, or still live there today. (And some of them have famously incorporated Brooklyn into their work.)
Brooklyn Jewish boy Melvin James Kaminsky, – better known as Mel Brooks has directed a number of classic film comedies, “The Producers,” “The Twelve chairs,” “Blazing Sadles,” “Young Frankenstein,” and “History of the World,” just to name a few, earning an Academy Award and multiple Emmy, Grammy and Tony Awards. It’s good to be the king!
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