When first asked to write about why I live in Brooklyn over Manhattan, I felt apprehension. Brooklyn is like a brand now with a reputation as NYC’s cool, hip borough, and I don’t completely buy into this idea. Perhaps it’s because after living in NYC for over ten years, I make a concerted effort to not consider Brooklyn to be better than Manhattan, just different. That being said, I do have substantial reasons for choosing Brooklyn as my home.
First, I fell in love with Williamsburg immediately. The energy was calm compared to the frenetic pace of Manhattan. There were only a handful of restaurants, bars, cafés, and shops in Williamsburg at the time, so most often, going to the Lower East Side for dinner followed by drinks at various bars where friends worked was my night out. Only a special occasion like a birthday or music show could drag me any further up the island. Tipsy and tired riding in a cab over the Williamsburg Bridge, I always felt relieved to be going back to my quiet, little pocket of the city.
Over the past ten-plus years, though, Brooklyn has undergone a massive transformation. The borough is now home to some of NYC’s trendiest restaurants, bars, and shopping. The demographic has changed – members of the original communities are being pushed out to accommodate a younger, wealthier sect. Gentrification happens in all major cities. Good or bad, the process affects residents differently, and it can be a sad thing to watch no matter which side you fall on.
Sure, I could complain about how crowded my neighborhood is now and that walking down Bedford Avenue on Saturday afternoon is comparable to shuffling the tourist-packed sidewalks of SoHo. I am not going to do that, though, because I still love to live in Brooklyn and appreciate every day that I get to call the borough home. I am comfortable and happy here (for the most part). Above all, it’s a good fit for me, so here are ten reasons why I live in Brooklyn.
1. Brooklyn has a strong sense of community.
Both recent transplants and lifelong residents share a genuine desire to see their neighborhood thrive and be its best. Their efforts take shape in green markets, community farms and gardens, cultural and historical non-profit organizations.
2. Brooklyn offers amazing restaurants.
Lighthouse BK, Caracas, Brooklyn Star, and Diner start a long list of great spots to enjoy a meal and cocktail.
3. Brooklyn has fantastic, ethically-minded shopping.
Shops sell jewelry, clothing, and other goods made by local artists and designers. Yes, you may pay more, but you’re also supporting independent makers who use ethical production methods – something we should all care more about these days.
4. I am on a first name basis with the nearby bodega.
The cashiers are cool with me paying later if I don’t have enough money. (I’m always good for it!)
5. I love Brooklyn’s public parks.
There’s no denying the unequivocal beauty and grandness of Central Park. But Brooklyn is peppered with many charming green spaces such as Prospect Park, McCarren Park and Fort Greene Park, which are perfect for a day of leisure outdoors.
6. Brooklyn’s coffee shops and their friendly baristas.
I have been to the most cultured of coffee shops in Brooklyn and never encountered the stereotypical elitist brewer behind the counter. My coffee has been served with nothing but a good attitude and smile.
7. Film is a favorite pastime of mine.
By NYC standards, movie tickets are cheaper with some matinee shows costing $9.
8. The spray of a fire hydrant cracked open on a hot day.
The sight of kids and some adults beating the heat with a fire hydrant-turned-sprinkler is the quintessential hallmark of a Brooklyn summer.
9. Brooklyn’s quiet streets.
Amazingly, my neighborhood is still full of secluded streets to explore on an afternoon stroll.
10. Brooklyn’s lively stoop culture.
As the weather warms, the stairs outside apartment buildings become a hangout for families and friends.
I am sure this list can be checked off in Manhattan, but Brooklyn showed me the list first, and that’s made all the difference.
The focus on community connected with my small town upbringing, while the laidback vibe here conforms to my lifelong pursuit of peace and quiet. Ask the next person, though, and they may find these traits as strikes against Brooklyn. “Why would you move to NYC to live in a boring neighborhood?” They thrive on the pulsating energy and fast pace of Manhattan. The very aspects of city living that cause me great anxiety.
After visiting NYC, people often say to me, “I don’t know how you live there.” My response, “Where did you stay?” Their answer is usually, “Near Times Square.” Times Square is a dizzying spectacle unlike anywhere else. It buzzes with a mad, exciting energy that hypnotizes while making you want to run fast and far away. At least that is how I felt when I walked through the area last month. This is not the vibe you’ll find in Williamsburg, greater Brooklyn, and most parts of Manhattan.
I am not better than the Manhattanite, and the Manhattanite is not better than me. I say this because of our tendency to pass judgment based on zip code. We are just different. I prefer to live in Brooklyn, and you may prefer to live in Manhattan. NYC has enough diversity and depth to accommodate both of us, making it one the greatest cities in the world.
Do you live in Brooklyn? We’d love to know why you live in the borough! Let us know in the comments.