Neighborhoods of Brooklyn?
January 1, 2010 10:39 PM   Subscribe

Which neighborhoods in Brooklyn along the BQE would you recommend I move to? I will be doing the reverse commute to LI, so access to the BQE is a key feature. I'm considering Bk Heights, WBurg, Greenpoint, Ft Greene, Vinegar Hill/DUMBO, Clinton Hill.

It looks like I can swing a tight 1 bedroom, or I may have to split a place with a roommate.

This is a big change for me -- I'm kind of starting over. I have a couple of friends in Brooklyn, but if you ever lived on LI, you'd understand why someone might leave.

That said, the neighborhood I'm hoping for is:
A) safe, safe-ish (esp w parking the car)
B) friendly, arts-oriented, less-family, more young - somewhere I'd be able to make friends
C) not too $$

I know Williamsburg the best. I'd move there; however the "hip-ness" of it is a little much for me -- like a steroided version of what I'm looking for. But I like the fun and creativity in WBurg.

I like Park Slope (but too $, and too far from the job), even if it is a little family-oriented. (Am I wrong?)

Any ideas?
posted by antipode12 to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Greenpoint is great. There are many parts of it not so close to the trains, but it sounds like that wouldn't be much of an issue for you. Partially because of the sometimes train-inconvenience, rents are very doable there; you could probably swing a studio or 1-bedroom. The population is mostly Polish (1 or 2 family households; 1st and 2nd generation), and in the Northern parts (north of Greenpoint Avenue, I would say), there are quite a few Hispanic households.

Something I like about Greenpoint is that you can find almost anything you need there: in my last apartment, I was within walking distance of a bank, grocery store, produce market, hardware store, drug store, coffee shops, restaurants, bodegas, and a few boutiques.

In terms of "young," definitely! A lot of young people live in Greenpoint because the rents are so reasonable, and Franklin Street (runs up and down Greenpoint, close-ish to the water) has several great restaurants, galleries and boutiques all along it.

In terms of "less-family," there are a lot of them there, but they aren't the twee fancy stroller types you might find in Park Slope. I feel like sometimes the "cool" people in Park Slope are the ones who have just started families, whereas in Greenpoint the families are just kind of there, living. Does that make sense?

The only thing I don't like about Greenpoint is that in parts it isn't as well-maintained as some other neighborhoods. Two examples: 1) People are generally lazy about picking up after their dogs here. There's actually a blog about Greenpoint called New York Shitty that documents some of these offenses; also, this question is about me. Yes. A shituation indeed; 2) Salt and shoveling isn't as commonplace in the winter, which can lead to unintentional ice skating and face planting.

To sum it up: Greenpoint is a lot more affordable than some of the other neighborhoods you mentioned, has a quickly-growing young, artsy scene (without much of the pretense (yet)), has families but they aren't "in your face" about their lifestyle, and I have almost never felt unsafe there (here are the most recent police reports from the local precinct).

Hope this helps!
posted by aquanet at 11:08 PM on January 1, 2010

I'd definitely second Greenpoint. If I were the move back to Brooklyn with a car, it's where I'd go. The parking is relatively easy, rents are cheaper since the G trains sucks ass, there are some great bars / restaurants, it's definitely safe and it's within walking distance to Hipster Williamsburg, but far enough away to keep things pretty quiet. The lack of salting the sidewalks is Truth, though. I never fell during the winter anywhere else in NYC and I busted my ass in Greenpoint thrice.
posted by youcancallmeal at 11:21 PM on January 1, 2010

Response by poster: Wow -- first, I'd have never thought about ice and salt as issues! That's friggin funny. (Well, until...)

Second, thanks for the great responses. I completely understand the point about strollers, families, etc.

Funny - you both honed in on what I was hoping for: to use my wheels as a slight advantage. Cool.

Know anything about the difficulty of getting to the BQE? (Like easy on/off? Nearby eternal construction... any pitfalls?)

I've never hung in Gpoint -- does it have its own nightlife? Scene? Or do people migrate to WB, etc.?
posted by antipode12 at 11:30 PM on January 1, 2010

Greenpoint is good. I lived near the BQE in Greenpoint, and there's plenty of parking over in that area (McGolrick Park), particularly under the highway. Roommate and I both had cars at various times. It's trafficky to get to the BQE, but in the opposite direction of your commute -- westbound is jammed in the mornings, eastbound in the evenings. The LIE is hell all the time, but there's no avoiding that.

The bars in Greenpoint rule -- they are just the best. But hey, I was 21. Still, it's the obvious choice on sheer convenience, and I'm biased because it's one of my favorite neighborhoods on Earth.
posted by zvs at 12:03 AM on January 2, 2010

Oh, yeah, the far northern part of Gpt would work well for you too, because you can JET down Greenpoint Ave and get on the LIE that way. It's a little more gentrified up there, so higher rents but also more cool stuff. The parking is worse near the G and better in the northern industrial part, which is a VERY quiet area.

Didn't think of that initially. I'm biased toward the Meeker/Morgan offramp myself.
posted by zvs at 12:07 AM on January 2, 2010

The cool thing about Greenpoint is that the bars tend to draw a slightly older crowd than W-burg and it's much more relaxed. Not Park Slope old, but late 20s as opposed to just-out-of-college types. Greenpoint is as close to Long Island as you can get on the BQE while still living in Brooklyn, so traffic won't be as bad as if you lived farther south.
posted by youcancallmeal at 12:07 AM on January 2, 2010

Fourthing Greenpoint! Park Slope was way, way too family-oriented for me. I live in Williamsburg because I happened to find my dream apartment here, but I was planning to move from Williamsburg to Greenpoint until that happened.

My friends who live there find it easy to park their cars. The bars in Greenpoint aren't as trendy or overcrowded as the ones in Williamsburg, but they're certainly quality and there are just as many of them. Haven't heard anything bad about BQE entry or exit there other than some complaints that people don't slow down enough after getting off at the McGuinness exit.
posted by coffeeflavored at 12:14 AM on January 2, 2010

Everything aquanet says is right. Greenpoint is also really, really just... ugly. It is an ugly place, which I guess might help you get up in the morning jet off to LI as quickly as possible.

But you mention Ft. Greene, which has a less-hip, more-community version of the same young vibe, and at least has some trees so you can breathe. The brownstones are pretty, too.
posted by thejoshu at 6:31 AM on January 2, 2010

Adding support for Greenpoint. The G train really isn't any worse than any other train line these days. When I worked in Midtown I used to be able to get there in about 30 minutes, quite reliably.

The neighborhood has really changed and livened up, there are excellent restaurants and bars, a wonderful independently-owned video rental place, and a huge organic supermarket that has frequent sales and an awesome deli counter. I especially recommend looking at places north of Greenpoint Ave, it's my favorite patch of the neighborhood.
posted by hermitosis at 6:32 AM on January 2, 2010

I came in to suggest Greenpoint, but other people beat me to it. I don't live there, but I have friends who do who car commute (I do the same commute from Astoria), and I can confirm most everything everyone's said (fun, not-overly-trendy atmosphere, easy driving/parking, safe, close to the city when you need it to be). Plus, if you get a place close to the river, you may have fan-freakin-tastic views of the 4th of July fireworks. That was a surprise bonus to my friends who live up in northern Greenpoint, around Green St.
posted by AlisonM at 6:32 AM on January 2, 2010

does it have its own nightlife? Scene? Or do people migrate to WB, etc.?

Both. There is definitely nightlife -- look at the end of Greenpoint Avenue, down by the water, for example. And lots of interesting bars like Black Rabbit and the Habitat.

It's really easy to access the BQE from McGuiness Blvd. Never seen a problem getting on or off in all my days of driving or riding in cabs. Also, if you have a car, you can cross the Pulaski Bridge into Queens and there's a straight shot to the Queensborough Bridge from there.
posted by hermitosis at 6:54 AM on January 2, 2010

Yep, just here to chime in with the rest of the crowd. Greenpoint is the way to go. I live here, love it, it's convenient, and when I have access to a car, it's easy to get to the major highways.

I'm thinking we need a Greenpoint meet-up y'all.
posted by greta simone at 7:40 AM on January 2, 2010

Oh, and it only gets ugly when you cross over Manhattan Ave toward McGuiness. I think Williamsburg is way uglier.
posted by greta simone at 7:41 AM on January 2, 2010

I'll add my voice to the Greenpoint mix.

I lived in Greenpoint for a number of years before it really took off - at the time, it was just a sleepy Polish neighborhood with cheap rents, a fairly easy commute to NYC, and easy access to the North side of Williamsburg, where everything was going on.

I owned a car at the time, and owning it there was easier than owning it in Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, or Park Slope (where I've also lived). Parking wasn't too hard to find, the only hassle being that the cops were pretty fast to ticket you for violations (which will be less of an issue for you, given that you'll be using it daily).

Don't even bother with the BQE - you take local streets to the LIE several different ways, and you'll avoid the massive backup that is the Kosciuszko bridge (the bridge on the BQE that goes over Newtown creek).

The neighborhood is totally safe, but it isn't pretty - the repetition of ugly vinyl siding up & down every block suggests the same 4 contractors did every building in the neighborhood 50 years ago. But that said, it's fun, there are a lot of interesting and fun things to do within a 20 minute walk of the neighborhood, and it has easy access back to LI. And if your friends are already in Williamsburg, they're not far away.

I'd totally recommend it as a place to re-establish yourself. Good luck!

Oh, and if the throwback donut shop on Manhattan ave is still there (can't remember the name - near Nassau, had an old-school lunch counter, and Polish girls in little donut-shop outfits), get yourself a donut - they're awesome.
posted by swngnmonk at 8:36 AM on January 2, 2010

Response by poster: You guys rule. Thanks for all the insight and motivation.

@swngnmonk -- I was curious about the "back-road" angle. The Kosciuszko can be a nightmare.

By the way, one person mentioned Ft. Greene, too. Anyone have any input on that?
posted by antipode12 at 12:04 PM on January 2, 2010

@swngnmonk, the bakery is called Peter Pan, and it's still there! The prices seem to be stuck in the 80s as well :D coffee and a fresh (delicious) muffin are something ridiculous like a dollar forty.
posted by aquanet at 1:50 PM on January 2, 2010

By the way, one person mentioned Ft. Greene, too. Anyone have any input on that?

Ft. Greene and Clinton Hill checking in. It'd definitely be pricier than Greenpoint -- but lo, it is gorgeous. VERY family-friendly and safe -- especially my street, where they close off a couple blocks every Halloween and make that "trick or treat central" for the kids. But it's not Park-Slope level family-oriented -- Clinton Hill sports TWO colleges, so there's also a college vibe, with a lot of night life.

Cllnton Hill is arguably the cheaper of the two neighborhoods, but sports a main "drag" of restaurants on Dekalb street. It's very "foodie", with 5 CSAs and a farmer's market.

Ft. Greene's main "drag" is down on Fulton, which is only about 2-3 blocks away from Dekalb, and also sports a lot of bars and restaurants.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:08 AM on January 9, 2010

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