When most imagine New York, they immediately think of Manhattan, home to the iconic Times Square, Empire State Building, and Freedom Tower.
For tourists wanting to live like the locals, it can be hard to avoid these tourist traps. However, if you really want to experience a different side to New York, one where residents of Manhattan will also be foreign to, you need to cross the bridge into Brooklyn.
Most people don’t know that Brooklyn, not Manhattan, is actually the most populous of the five boroughs. In fact, if the five boroughs were all separated, Brooklyn would be America’s third largest city behind Los Angeles and Chicago. Brooklyn has become an intersection of art, culture, and technology over its eclectic history. It has also become a desirable place for millennials to live an alternative lifestyle.
The borough, like Manhattan is also comprised of many different neighborhoods, all with unique personalities and stories. Some of the more recognizable ones are Williamsburg, Bushwick, Cobble Hill, Red Hook, and Dumbo. What makes each one of these neighborhoods so special is that they were all developed for different reasons, and have through the past decade taken on particular characteristics that make them all worthwhile to check out. Here are my two favorite neighborhoods in Brooklyn.
Easily the most gentrified Brooklyn neighborhood, Williamsburg is a mecca for urban hipsters and home to industrial brick buildings, countless coffee shops, and far too many artisanal soap shops.
City-dwelling Americans struggle to combat the affordability crisis of housing in urban centers, but something about Williamsburg still feels right. The streets are quaint and the neighborhood has an authentic small-town charm that beats the bright lights of Manhattan every time.
The only thing you should be doing in Williamsburg is getting lost. Wander around each small street to see what gems there are to discover because there is something here for everyone. If you’re hungry, head to Bedford Street where you can find classics like pizza and bagels, to international fare such as a Vietnamese Bahn Mi.
Williamsburg is also known for having some of the best views in New York. Grab a cup of coffee (check out Blue Bottle or Devocion) and walk to the shoreline for a breathtaking glimpse of Manhattan’s skyline.
One of the best kept secrets is taking the East River Ferry (which costs only $4) to DUMBO. Most well-known for being the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, tourists flock here to take photos and grab a delicious cone from Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. However, there is much more that meets the eye about this curious neighborhood. First of all, DUMBO is actually an acronym that stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. During the 70's, artists flocked to the area for its large industrial spaces, then in the early 2000's tech startups moved in. This has made DUMBO one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Brooklyn, with a medium household income of over $170, 000.
The area began to deindustrialize roughly 40 years ago and has since developed into a high-end residential area which is also home to a few boutiques and art galleries. For tourists, it’s a great place to wander around and peer into multimillion dollar condos and more amazingly, the views that they enjoy.
Even if you are just visiting the U.S. from overseas, an all-American tour would not be complete without seeing the real New York- the borough of Brooklyn.