On June 18, the first Ikea in the city proper will finally open in Red Hook. Is the much-disputed location better than good old Elizabeth, New Jersey? We made Saturday-afternoon trips to each to test travel time and store gestalt. The upshot: same merchandise at both, but in Brooklyn you get sweeping harbor views and a neighborhood you’ve been meaning to explore anyway.
Public Transport: A free shuttle will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. between the store and the Smith–9th Sts., Fourth Ave.–9th St., and Court St.–Borough Hall subway stops. The B61 and B77 bus lines go to the store. There’s a free water taxi every 40 minutes from Pier 11 in lower Manhattan to Ikea.
By Car: From Manhattan, take the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and exit at Hamilton Avenue. Make a right on West 9th St. and then a left on Columbia St., which turns into Halleck St., then Beard St.
What It Looks Like: All Ikeas are virtually identical, so it’s not a merchandise question. But Red Hook has a supercool 6.5-acre esplanade that wraps around the store’s waterfront property, incorporates maritime history (massive old winches!), and has stunning harbor views.
Getting Stuff Back: From Red Hook, delivery starts at $79 for Brooklyn destinations; there’s a $39 same-day or next-day courier service for smaller items. Delivery elsewhere in New York is $49 for small items, $89 for larger.
In Conclusion: For way-downtown Manhattanites and Brooklynites, the Brooklyn store obviously makes the most sense.
Public Transport: On weekends, the free shuttle leaves every half-hour from the Port Authority’s gate 5 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Our prime-time midday Saturday trip took 40 minutes.
By Car: The Lincoln or Holland Tunnel to the New Jersey Turnpike; exit 13A to Elizabeth (you’ll be able to see Ikea from the highway). Follow the very clear signs to Ikea Drive.
What It Looks Like: Watching planes take off from Newark Airport while eating the inevitable meatballs ($4.29) with a lingonberry-juice chaser ($1, free refills) is very urban-industrial. But it’s certainly not the enticement to linger that Red Hook is.
Getting Stuff Back: A boxed-up Hajdeby desk chair that weighed about 25 pounds was easy to bring back on the bus. The delivery service will lug up to fifteen pieces to your house (if it’s within 50 miles of the store) in one to three days for a flat $99.
In Conclusion: As aesthetically superior as the Brooklyn shopping experience may be, especially in nice weather, it seems highly unlikely that anyone living above 14th St. in Manhattan would choose Red Hook over Elizabeth.