The Great Brooklyn Neighborhood Tour
Since moving back to the East Coast in March, I have had the privilege of living in three different apartments, three distinct neighborhoods and with a total of six people, all within Brooklyn. I lived with people from all different backgrounds and ages, from a 20 year old college student about to enter her senior year of college and become legally allowed to drink, to a 39 year old Harvard educated, former doctor about to hit a very different milestone. I experienced, witnessed and lived through countless events on a historial and personal level. During the hurricane that wasn't, also my last weekend in Prospect Heights, I was awoken by the falling of a huge tree right outside my window, a tree, that I later found out, had been in front of the building for over forty years.
A week later, settled into my new neighborhood of Crown Heights, only a ten minute walk but a world of difference, I came home one night to a swarm of policemen and roped off sidewalks. There had been a major shooting 6 blocks from my apartment and two people had been killed, including an innocent bystander. This shocked the neighborhood, an eclectic mix of West Indians, Orthodox Jews, white, creative professions and hipsters. I've only been in "my" Park Slope apartment for nearly a month and with a new freelance gig, my reality has changed dramatically. It seems that with each apartment, there is the possibility of a new beginning and I am making the most out of every moment.
My first apartment in Prospect Heights was a world of first's; first time being outnumbered by male roommates, living in Brooklyn and living in an up and coming neighborhood. My neighborhood was more racially diverse than the East Village but less diverse than my home town. The local ice cream shop, Blue Marble, catered to hipster parents with young children, eagerly lining up for all natural ice cream and young professionals, like me, excited that my fair-trade iced coffee came in a compostable cup.
My apartment building was a mix of young, white professionals and African Americans of all ages, some with kids and some who had been in the building their entire life. The neighborhood itself consisted mostly of brownstones, nearly as beautiful as Park Slope but not as crowded or as developed. Vanderbilt was lined with only a handful of restaurants and Washington had various hidden enclaves like Sit & Wonder, among local corner delis and laundromats.
My next Brooklyn apartment in Crown Heights coincided with one of the most difficult experiences in my life financially and emotionally. The cliff notes are that my cat nearly died and some other stuff happened that I'd prefer not to write about. I don't have many fond memories of my dark apartment, with a window that overlooked a garbage filled courtyard, but I'm happy to have discovered Franklin Avenue and all
the lovely restaurants. Most importantly, I'm still trying to cope with not having Chavela's corn on the cob once a week. And I'm still kicking myself for having only discovered,a week before leaving, that Abigail Cafe, with their mellow atmosphere and healthy menu is the absolute perfect work spot. I usually went to Glass Shop on Classon which was a great coffee shop but you can only drink coffee so much before you need a real meal.
Finally, we come to ParkSlope.Call me simple, but I am easily influenced by amazing food and like Crown Heights, there are culinary delights to be found. I had my mind expanded and blown away the other day with a breakfast dish from Juventino, two poached eggs over wilted greens (swiss chard perhaps?!), brioche with garlic infused chicken broth poured over the dish - a perfect cold day, fall or winter treat.
And now instead of "hipster cafes" with freelancers on laptops, I'm a block away from Café Martin, acoffee shop with enough French staff to allow me to pretend I've just stepped into Paris. Now, instead of being surrounded by "hipsters," I'm surrounded by parents with their children who have won the clothing battle. Once again, a am faced with an entirely new beginning and a neighborhood full of new discoveries. What's your favorite neighborhood in Brooklyn?