NYC Borough Series: Brooklyn

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When people think New York City, their minds often don’t wander past the island of Manhattan. The problem is, NYC consists of five boroughs and Manhattan is just one of them. Sure, Manhattan is the one with the famous skyline, the buildings with names you recognize, and the sights you recall from movies, but the other boroughs have quite a bit to offer on their own.

Brooklyn on its own would be the fourth most populous city in the United States, behind Chicago, Los Angeles and the remaining boroughs of New York. That means every other city in the country has fewer people living in it than just this one borough. It’s crazy to think that the residents of Brooklyn make up about 2.5 of the 8.3 million New Yorkers, but it does, making the borough the largest of the five.

Neighborhoods of Brooklyn, via wikipedia

Neighborhoods of Brooklyn, via wikipedia

5 Fast Facts:

  • Brooklyn is located in Kings County
  • Brooklyn is 71 square miles (91 if you include water)
  • Brooklyn was its own city until it merged with the rest of NYC in 1898
  • Depending on whom you ask, Brooklyn has up to 78 different neighborhoods.
  • There are 7 major bridges in, or connecting Brooklyn to the other boroughs

Tourism

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The areas of Brooklyn that most lend itself to tourism can be found right on the other side of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, and the surrounding areas are typically the most visited by out-of-towners. Here are some key spots to see if you’re just visiting, or you can just hop on our Brooklyn tour that runs through this area:

  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park
  • Prospect Park
  • Brooklyn Museum
  • Grand Army Arch
  • Barclays Center
  • Brooklyn Public Library
  • Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
  • Brooklyn Academy of Music
  • Brooklyn Borough Hall

It’s worth noting, this isn’t the only area you should visit in Brooklyn, just the most popular. There are other sections of Brooklyn with phenomenal food and arts and culture and sights that you should go see, too.

Food

bk ponyf

Despite what big brother Manhattan would want you to believe, Brooklyn is known for having some of the best food in NYC. Greenpoint is known as one of the top Polish cuisine neighborhoods in America. The “best pizza in NYC” debate is one that will never end, but Grimaldi’s, Fornino, and Roberta’s can all make a case for the top spot. There are some great steakhouses all around the world, but are any of them really as good as Peter Luger’s? And let’s not forget about our favorite weekend market, Smorgasburg.

Gentrification

williamsburg bridge

In recent years, Brooklyn has become increasingly gentrified. This is a topic of great debate among the locals who feel as though they are being pushed out of their homes, however with perceived increasing charm (it’s always been a charming borough, people are just now finally realizing it), the gentrification is unlikely to stop. Neighborhoods like Bed-Stuy and Clinton Hill, which come across as extremely dangerous places in the early 90s rap songs of Notorious BIG, now are the prime destination of 20-somethings from Missouri looking to make it in the big city.

Pop Culture

Jay Z at Barclays Center, via rollingstone

You know those 20-somethings from Missouri I was just talking about? It’s TV shows like Girls and Gossip Girl and Two Broke Girls that give the borough its “ah shucks, we-don’t-have-any-money-but-that’s-fine” charm on a national level.  On the other end of the spectrum, Brooklyn is the subject of many rappers from the borough, often citing the drug deals, violence, and murder that takes place on the streets. What’s kind of funny is that the rappers and the girls on TV seem to highlight the same few neighborhoods in northern Brooklyn in their contradicting depictions of the borough.

Brooklyn isn’t just the subject of songs and shows, though. It is also the real life home of many famous people, including authors (Truman Capote), actors (Steve Buscemi), gangsters (Al Capone), rappers (Jay Z), comedians (Jimmy Fallon), TV hosts (Larry King), athletes (Mike Tyson), and hundreds more.

bk fence small

Brooklyn is a place of great history, culture, nightlife, and is regularly considered NYC’s most “up and coming” borough. Truth be told, calling Brooklyn “up and coming” is does an extreme disservice to the borough’s wonderful past. There is so much special illuminating from Brooklyn that we couldn’t even fit it all into one blog post. You’ll have to visit and take it in for yourself.

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