New York Magazine

 
neighborhood tours
 

Breathtaking Brooklyn

Brooklyn. The name used to conjure images of rough-and-tumble streets, greasy pizza made by men with hairy arms, and—oh—those thick accents. But fugghetaboutit! Brooklyn, dare we say it, has become the new Manhattan, chock-full of its own hot spots that easily capture the interest of both the natives and the new locals: former claustrophobic Manhattanites who came in search of a little more elbow room and lower rents. As the most populated of New York City’s five boroughs, it’s easy to understand why Brooklyn has been dubbed by many as the “nation’s first suburb,” with its countless rows of tree-lined, cobble-stone streets, historic brownstones and close-knit neighborhoods full of treasures just waiting to be re-discovered. And it’s all just a bridge-length away.

BY NICK DIVITO

 
     
   
   
   

When the Brooklyn Bridge opened in 1883 as the world’s longest suspension bridge, about 150,000 gawkers paid a penny to try it out. Today, 2,000 pedestrians, bicyclists and skaters take the 30-minute, 6,016-foot trek across the bridge daily for the best views money can’t buy. Traversing the wooden planks and peering through the lattice work of the high-rising cables, it’s easy to see why the bridge has inspired countless artists, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Walt Whitman, Hart Crane and Georgia O’Keefe.

Brooklyn Bridge, Park Row, near Municipal Bldg.; Brooklyn: Cadman Plaza

     
   
     
   
     
    DUMBO, short for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass,” a hot Brooklyn ‘hood, full of abandoned warehouses, well-worn cobblestone streets and emerging artists who hope you never catch on. But tucked amid the rubble is Jacques Torres Chocolate, chock-full of hand-made confections like “Love Potion No. 9” and the “Menage-a-Trois.” But don’t just stand there and scarf your high-end chocolate while staring at the backside of an abandoned warehouse: take your treat next door and check out the quirky performance-art offerings at St. Ann’s Warehouse, a Brooklyn institution that only recently relocated to the old spice milling factory in the neighborhood. Or, if the space is closed for the day, go to the nearby Fulton Ferry State Park, grab a seat on the grassy knoll and exploit one of Brooklyn’s best assets: the Manhattan views. If it’s late enough, stop in to the hipster hangout, Superfine restaurant and bar for a quick beer and a game of pool on the orange felt pool table.

Jacques Torres Chocolate, 66 Water St., 718-875-9772, mrchocolate.com
• St. Ann’s Warehouse 38 Water St., 718-254-8779, artsatstanns.org
• Fulton Ferry State Park, 26 New Dock St.
Superfine, 126 Front St. between Jay and Pearl Sts., 718-243-9005
     
   
     
   

Located under the Brooklyn Bridge, Grimaldi’s has been tossing the city’s best pizza for decades. Visitors flock here for the trademarked crispy, thin crusts that set the standard for coal-oven pies. The pizza was said to be Frank Sinatra’s favorite—he even had the pies delivered to him while on tour. The only warning: this is upscale pizza. Don’t ask for a slice.

Grimaldi’s, 19 Old Fulton St., 718-858-4300, grimaldis.com

     
   
     
    Rich with history, the Fulton Ferry Landing is a must for any Brooklynite—adopted or native. It was here that Robert Fulton invented the steamship, Brooklyn Bridge designer John Roebling died in a freak accident, and George Washington saved the day during the Revolutionary War. Head to the River Café for dinner with a side of the Manhattan Skyline. But save room for dessert from the nearby Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.

River Cafe, 1 Water Street, 718-522-5200, rivercafe.com
Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, Old Fulton Street at the East River, 718-246-396
     
   
     
   
     
   

While much of Brooklyn offers great views of Manhattan, none compare to that of bucolic Brooklyn Heights, home to such luminaries as Thomas Wolfe, W.E.B. DuBois, Arthur Miller, Norman Mailer, Alfred Kazin and Truman Capote. With its classic architecture and elegant Brooklyn Heights Promenade offering uninterrupted views of the harbor and the Statue of Liberty, locals come here to read, sun-bathe or just relax—even as the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway rumbles under their feet.

Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Above the Brooklyn Queens Expressway between Remsen and Orange Sts., Brooklyn

     
   
     
   
     
   

It used to be that Atlantic Avenue rarely made the top of anyone’s list of places to hang out. But the thoroughfare has experienced a rebirth of late, and locals and visitors flock to the mile-long stretch devoted to mostly Middle Eastern restaurants, bazaars, rug stores and food markets. The crown jewel of them all is easily Sahadi’s, a long-established institution peddling more reasonably priced exotic olives, nuts and cheeses than you can hope to carry home after a long day in Brooklyn. Lucky for you, the nearby Borough Hall subway station will help you head back to wherever you’re going—exhausted, full, and totally enamored with breathtaking Brooklyn.

Sahadi’s, 187 Atlantic Ave., 718-624-4550, sahadis.com

   
     
      Brooklyn Alternatives
      Bargemusic
14-33 Cadman Plaza, 718-624-2083, bargemusic.com
Chamber music, on a barge, on the East River? That’s right. Bargemusic, rumored to be the world’s largest presenter of chamber music, entertains 125 music lovers nightly.
         
      Teresa’s Restaurant
80 Montague St., 718-797-3996
Got a hankering for pierogies? Try Teresa’s Restaurant for the best Polish fare in town.
         
      The Heights Casino
75 Montague St., 718-624-0810, heightscasino.com
Grab a squash tournament at The Heights Casino, a private tennis, squash and social club founded in 1904.
         
      Squibb Park
Middagh St and the Brooklyn Heights Promenade
Situated on top of three roadways, including the bustling BQE, Squibb Park offers simultaneous views of the New York Harbor, the Manhattan Skyline, Ellis Island, The Statue of Liberty, Governors Island, Buttermilk Channel, and the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.