Help me get to know Brooklyn
January 12, 2008 7:38 PM   Subscribe

Send me on a tour of Brooklyn that will help me decide which part of it to live in.

I have been in the NYC area for about four years now...spent some time living on the UWS (too crowded, too many strollers, horrible - if fast - commute to midtown). Spent over a year now in Hoboken. But it seems like everyone I end up hanging out with or dating lives in Brooklyn, and people who get to know me are often surprised that I don't live in Brooklyn.

So, okay, I'm tired of my window-less room in Hoboken, and I'm tired of being surrounded by bars that are mostly designed to cater to people who want to watch the football game. Since I'm moving anyway, I'm going to have a look at Brooklyn.

The thing is that I never spend enough time there to really get a feel for it. I've been to a bar here, a party there, a restaurant here, a show there. My times spent there have been so geographically scattered, and so scattered across time (and I have such a bad sense of direction), that I really still have no sense of Brooklyn neighborhoods at all. Instead of waiting for a lot more such occasions to accumulate, I want to just spend a few Saturdays in a row out there, getting a feel for various areas.

So, a few parameters:

- I don't have a car, and don't plan on getting one.
- Right now, my rent is $1,100 (with a roommate in Hoboken), but I can afford to pay more...I would really like to keep it under $1500, though.
- I could live with a roommate again or by myself, either way, depending on the neighborhood and affordability.
- I need the streets to be relatively clean. Trash all over the place depresses me.
- I will not live within half a mile of a check-cashing place. I have learned from years of experience that those places are very accurate indicators of exactly the kind of neighborhood I don't want to live in.
- There needs to be a health food store within easy reach, preferably walking distance.
- A gym within walking distance would be ideal.
- I work in midtown Manhattan near 23rd St., so the easier the commute, the better.
- I'm a film geek. I love movies, especially indie movies. Proximity to, or ease of travel to, film geek locations, would be a plus.
- I like to go out for brunch on weekends.
- I like restaurants that serve food that is not fried.
- I am a single white guy in his mid thirties.
- I am not a hipster, but I like hipsters and alt types of all stripes: punks, goths, stoners, etc.
- I am, I suppose, a yuppie (if you can be 36 and still be a yuppie), and I'm fine with living among other yuppies too.
- I often wear blazers or suits, and I often work late. If walking through my own neighborhood in a suit at night is going to get me assaulted (jeered at is fine), or even if I have to think about the possibility much, then forget it.

I'm an open book in terms of additional info that I can provide.

So, what I'm asking for, really, is for you to tell me, not just specific neighborhoods, but how to get there, where to go, and what to see when I'm there. Like, 'take the L to X stop, walk south on Y street, observing the bars and restaurants to your left. This is a popular hangout for posers from Memphis, and gained notoriety last year when twelve people were killed in a bizaare tricycle accident. Have a coffee at Z bistro, which is the ultimate in pretentious yuppie film culture, and is exactly the sort of place I imagine an asshole like you hanging out in.' That would be great.

Comments that begin with 'you might like Cobble Hill' or whatever, are fine, except, please keep in mind that I don't know shit about how to even get there, and if I end up taking a Saturday afternoon to go out there based on your recommendation, I need more guidance, or I might just walk around the wrong area and not really get a feel for it.

posted by bingo to Society & Culture (36 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

Brooklyn Heights. Can't imagine living anywhere else in Brooklyn. Maybe Park Slope.

posted by wfc123 at 8:04 PM on January 12, 2008

No lia, poor people. Can't have any poor people nearby, you know.

That said, Brooklyn Heights/Park Slope/Williamsburg/Boerum Hill are your starter neighborhoods. That's where the rich hipsters live and congregate. You'll find all the gyms, health food stores, and indie-type places you need. A friend used to work out at the Equinox at Joralemon. As for Park Slope, try taking the subway to 7th Avenue and walk around the neighborhood. Head to fifth and fourth Avenues, check out the bars and restaurants, shops and the like.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:23 PM on January 12, 2008

I live in Bay Ridge, and I LOVE it, but there aren't any yuppies/hipsters here. There's definitely a bar scene here (Salty Dog, etc), a movie theatre (commercial), LOTS of nice restaurants, but it's very quiet. And close to the beach.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:34 PM on January 12, 2008

Response by poster: Oh, you mean nowhere near blacks or latins? Good luck with that!, I mean not surrounded by poverty, homelessness, panhandlers, and vandalism. The color of the people who inhabit my safe, clean neighborhood may vary.

It's also not about some snooty issue with poor people. I have certainly been poor myself. But I have a good job and I don't want to live around things that depress me, and one such thing is check-cashing places. Just seeing them saps me of energy, maybe because I lived near one for a long time when I was living in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles for about five years, a particularly rough time in my life.

The problem is that when I start from the opposite side of the fence, and say that I want to live in an interesting area, then the general tendency of mefites is to recommend neighborhoods that I wouldn't want to live in. Not because I'm racist or too good for them, neither of which is true. It's simply because I have lived in rough spots before, and now I don't have to, and so I don't think I will. I don't think that should condemn me to a life of living only in the land of top 40, frat boys, and Starbucks, which I dislike almost as much as living in squalor.

I have spent some time in DUMBO, and liked it a lot, though I'm not sure I can afford to live there.
posted by bingo at 8:38 PM on January 12, 2008

You sound like a fine candidate for ... Manhattan. But if you insist on the sanitized Brooklyn, you definitely want the Slope, the Heights or even Red Hook.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 8:59 PM on January 12, 2008

You sound like a perfect candidate for Park Slope. BAM is very close to the Slope for your dose of film culture. It's clean and safe, near the museum and park, and the rent is in your ball park if you don't mind a studio or living with room mates. It's very close to the city by train also.

However, as a home grown Brooklyn native I am required by law to say that all those neighborhoods you mention all suck. :)
posted by cazoo at 9:04 PM on January 12, 2008

Best answer: Consider Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens. Smith Street, in the latter neighborhood, has a thriving restaurant and bar scene plus lots of funky boutiques. Cobble Hill is a bit more solidly residential, and, for the most part, quieter. To get to Carroll Gardens, take the F train to Carroll Street, and you'll be emerging from the subway right onto Smith. For Cobble Hill, take the F to Bergen Street.

Red Hook will be more affordable but is still insufficiently gentified for you, I think.

If you're not yet familiar with Curbed, do check it out. They have lots of neighborhood info mixed in with the real estate gossip. Highly recommended.
posted by GrammarMoses at 9:09 PM on January 12, 2008

posted by GrammarMoses at 9:10 PM on January 12, 2008

Best answer: You live at 7th ave and 15th street in Park Slope. You wake up at 7:45am. Drink a cup of coffee. Put on jogging gear. Walk 2 aves east to Prospect Park (there's a cute movie theater there). Jog 3.3 miles, and in the morning the dogs can run free in the fields, so stop for a second to watch. Gawk at the dogwalkers and their 11 (seriously) dogs on leashes. On the way home, get a chocolate croissant at Parco (14th st) next to the laundromat where the lady yells at you if you try to use "her" dryer. The Lebanese dude at the bodega says hi. Smell the serious tomato and garlic coming from Cafe Steinhof (Austrian food, great beer, free movies on Mondays, I think). If it's Tuesday, the board will say they have trout for lunch. Arrive at home, take a shower (it's 3 flights up, you pay $2300 for a 3 bedroom). Get ready to go to work.

On your way to the 7th ave stop on the F, get a VitaminWater energy drink from the other bodega with all the plants outside. Say hi to Mrs. Lee, who runs the place, she's supernice. They have smoked pink garlic for sale (wtf), and good produce. Keep walking toward the subway, and you can stop at Ansonia Chemists, where the pharmacist will tell you "Fuggedaboutit" over and over and over. Maybe go across the street to get some fancy cat food from the Pet place, and some Puttanesca sauce from the amazing Italian store/sandwich place. Continue toward the subway stop. Maybe you are in the mood for a Mate Latte (hopefully instead of the VitaminWater or else you are going to be seriously overcaffeinated), so stop at the breeders' version of the Tea Lounge (the hipster one is further north). Marvel at the laptops. Keep going to the subway, swipe your card, go to the platform. Hey! There's that kid whose parents let him dress like a knight! Fucking awesome. Love that kid. Get on the subway. 40 minutes to 14th street in Manhattan.

Eh, there's more. The Y costs $50ish a month and it's an avenue west. They have a pool. They have tv's on all the cardio. The health food store is east, though they're opening a yuppie fancy one on 7th proper. I won't even mention the Park Slope Food Co-op (google it). Kinda far, close quarters.

Park Slope is very clean. You are not gentrifying a damn thing. We look really ordinary (and mostly white), just a tad quirky/European/gay, but in an unpretentious way (I think). The people at the Bergen/Carroll stops are hottter.
posted by unknowncommand at 9:13 PM on January 12, 2008 [11 favorites]

Thirding Brooklyn Heights. I think that's what you are asking for. My sister lives there and it seems like a more highbrow version of Hoboken- populated with people who don't mind spending a lot on a bottle of wine with dinner, but not completely antiseptic or filled with frat and sorority members. Not too many chains, lots of small upscale bistros and some chi chi shops. Her friends all live near her and they are mostly established writers or academics. I don't spend much time there, but I think you might like the vibe based on what you've set for parameters. You sound a bit like her.
posted by stagewhisper at 9:14 PM on January 12, 2008

I go to movies at BAM all the time and see a mix of people on Lafayette/Fulton/ DeKalb when I go to dinner beforehand.
posted by brujita at 9:18 PM on January 12, 2008

Obligatory transit info.
posted by stagewhisper at 9:21 PM on January 12, 2008

Best answer: I'm going to say right off the top that your check cashing place requirement's going to make this hard since, as far as I can tell from my three years (holy Christ, has it really been that long?!) in Brooklyn, they're everywhere.

I can think of three places that sound up your alley. Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens around Smith Street, and Park Slope. To investigate these neighborhoods, here's what I'd do. (This is going to be long). On preview, I see that unknowncommand's also done something like this, but I'll post this anyway because it covers two more neighborhoods, and because it took me so bloody long to write it.


Take the 2, 3, 4, or 5 to Borough Hall, the first stop in Brooklyn. Get off, and walk upstairs. Walk up Court Street, away from the courts, noting the presence of NYSC, Equinox, and Starbucks on your right. There's also a place called Court Order on that side of the street that serves awesome salads to the lunchtime rush on Court Street. Keep walking up Court Street, past the Barnes and Noble, and the commercial movie theater, also on your right. If you continue on Court Street, you'll hit Atlantic Avenue, home of the famous (and fun) yearly Atlantic Antic, as well numerous outstanding Middle Eastern restaurants and specialty stores, including the famous Sahadi's. As you're waiting for the light to change on the corner of Court and Atlantic, notice the beautiful bank building on the right hand corner -- this is where Trader Joe's is scheduled to open at some point in the undetermined future.

Cross Atlantic and continue on Court Street. On the corner of Court and Pacific is Pacific Green, an excellent little grocery store. Keep going, past the bookstore, the other Starbucks, the funeral home. Lemon Grass Grill on the opposite side of the street has decent Thai Food. The bar next to it is a good place to watch games or just hang out. Keep going. Now you're in the older Italian part of Court Street. The used book store on the right of the street beyond the CVS is a most pleasurable time waster, but don't be tempted to stop too long. There are numerous Italian restaurants on this part of Court Street, and also Joia, a great Thai place. If you carry on, you'll see the Cobble Hill Cinemas on your left. They play good movies here. Now, take a right anywhere you want, but Degraw's as good a choice as any. Stay on Degraw until you hit Henry, and take another right. Pay attention around here, because this might be where you'll want to look for an apartment. Henry will soon intersect with Atlantic again. If you were to take a left on Atlantic, you'd get to Long Island College Hospital soon enough. In the summer, the sun sets just beyond Atlantic Avenue every day, and it's quite beautiful. If you took a right on Atlantic, you'd hit Last Exit (a very appealing dive bar), Magnetic Field (live band karaoke!), Floyd's (bocce courts!), and a bunch of other cool bars along the way. Don't take a right on Atlantic, though. Keep going on Henry, continuing to look at the houses and apartments as potential new homes for yourself. You're now in Brooklyn Heights proper. Take a left on Remsen, and follow it all the way to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. If you time it just right, you'll be able to watch the sun set behind Manhattan. Come back up on Montague Street, and you're back at Borough Hall.


Follow the steps in the first paragraph above. When you get to Atlantic and Court, take a left instead a right. There's a Subway behind a bus stop, and then you'll see a bar called The Brazen Head. Stop for a refreshing half pint of the Chelsea cask ale, and say hi to Lou, the owner. Go back out when you're done, and keep on Atlantic until you hit Smith Street. Across the street you'll see the Brooklyn House of Detention. Ignore this, as I don't think it fits with your vision of your neighborhood, and take a right onto Smith Street. Explore Smith Street thoroughly, and slowly. There's plenty of stores, restaurants, bars, coffee shops and other things going on. Pacifico and Trout are both on the corner of Smith and Pacific. Trout's a great outdoor bar for the summers, and Pacifico is a Mexican place where you can stop for lunch if you're hungry. As you're walking up Smith Street, try to take little detours down the side streets on the left, since this is where the residential areas are. Note, however, that if you take a left on Baltic Street, you will soon come upon the NYCHA-Gowanus Houses, which is a project run by the city. This will likely not make you so happy, so try the other streets instead. Make a note of 323 Smith Street, because in the summer time, this is the home of the Gowanus Yacht Club, one of the coolest outdoor bars I've ever been to.


Once you're done with Carroll Gardens, get on the F train at Bergen and Smith, going into Brooklyn. Get off at the 4th Avenue stop. Cross 4th Avenue, and walk up it, so the numbers of the streets are going up. At 11th Street, take a left and head up to 5th Avenue. On the corner of 11th and 5th Avenue is a little coffee shop called Cafe Regular. In my opinion, they have the best coffee in Park Slope. Say hi to Martin, the guy behind the counter, and order an espresso to go. At 5th Avenue, make a left. Head all the way down 5th Avenue, taking note of the innumerable bars, restaurants, stores, and whatnot along the way. 5th Avenue is home to Gingers, the lesbian bar, and Excelsior, the gay bar that shows movies every Sunday afternoon. Stop at the Brooklyn Super Hero Supply Company and buy a t-shirt, just so you can take the oath to always use your powers for good, and never for evil before the cashier. Close to Flatbush Avenue, on the right of 5th Avenue, you'll see Southpaw, home to some excellent live music. Right around here, take a right and head over to 7th Avenue. Go back up 7th Avenue, again noting the plethora of restaurants, bars, bookstores, health food places, wine stores, etc. At around 15th Street, hang a left and head up to Prospect Park West. You'll be right next to the Pavilion, Brooklyn's other cinema that shows good movies (besides Cobble Hill and BAM). You'll also be at one of the entrances to Prospect Park, which you can then explore, or you could call it a day by heading back to the corner of 5th Avenue and 12th Street, and stopping at Commonwealth Bar and having a cold one with Ray, the owner.


There are numerous blogs devoted to these neighborhoods that I'm sure you can find by yourself. Also, I know nothing of Williamsburg, and little of other neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Finally, all these observations are solely my own opinions -- I know that people who read this long-ass comment could easily find things to disagree with ("The coffee at Ozzie's is waaaaaay better than Cafe Regular's", etc.). Good luck -- Brooklyn's a great place to live.
posted by lassie at 9:29 PM on January 12, 2008 [4 favorites]

Take the 2, 3, 4, or 5 to Borough Hall, the first stop in Brooklyn.

First stop on the 2/3 is actually Clark Street (sorry to nitpick), and the good thing about that is that if you turn to the right and walk a little ways down the street, there's a good gym called Eastern Athletic.
posted by Evangeline at 9:35 PM on January 12, 2008

No, you're right, Evangeline. I meant the first stop on the 4/5.
posted by lassie at 9:37 PM on January 12, 2008

We look really ordinary (and mostly white),

I love how people revel in the fact that the Slope is now mostly white ... as if that's some standard for livability. Remember, the white people are the carpetbaggers. The borough has historically been very diverse.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 10:20 PM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

There's a check cashing place two blocks from where I live, and I am not surrounded by "poverty, panhandlers, and vandalism ".

Something about books and covers comes to mind here.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:31 PM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

I love how people revel in the fact that the Slope is now mostly white

Not all of us, notfoxybrown. :)

Also, Bingo, I tried to answer only your question above, but I must admit that I paused a good bit while I was writing that all out. I mean, you should know that even if you live in Brooklyn Heights, you're going to pass panhandlers on your way to the subway every morning. Because of the proximity of the courts, you're going to see a lot of stuff that depresses you, like screaming, fighting people on their way to Family Court, or disabled people going to their disability hearings, or prisoners being transported to the Criminal Court. There's a methadone clinic not far from downtown Brooklyn, and consequently there's any number of folks who just got their fixes, wandering around, like the guy who's so whacked out, he stands, folded in half, in the middle of the Court Street rush. Or, if you live in Park Slope, you're going to run into the the guys outside the Key Food on Seventh Avenue hustling for some change.

This is Brooklyn we're talking about, and poverty hasn't been banished from our streets. (Yet. If/Once Ratner has his way with downtown Brooklyn, we might be banning not only the poor, but also the lower middle class from the neighborhoods surrounding Atlantic Yards.) And like I said, I'll be interested in seeing where you find an apartment that's not somewhere near a check cashing place.
posted by lassie at 10:51 PM on January 12, 2008

A word about Red Hook - it's not hard to get to, but when I've gone there, I've had to take the train and then transfer to a bus. That said, they have a great bakery named Baked that has a salt caramel chocolate cake. Which in my opinion, is worth the transfer (I got a whole cake though, a slice is not worth the trip).
posted by spec80 at 10:58 PM on January 12, 2008

Also, in addition to what lassie said (all great points), there are lots of check places and bail bondsmen around the courts as well. I passed one of those tonight after shopping along Montague where some of the fancier stores are. And there were a few homeless around there as well right on Montague when I was going to the bank.

I don't live in the area, (but in a more residential, quieter, not as wealthy neighborhood), but honestly, there are fewer homeless in my neighborhood than in a place that attracts more crowds and has a richer base.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:06 PM on January 12, 2008

Your desire for economic homogenity anywhere in Brooklyn is both unrealistic (as Lassie well noted) and wholly incompatible with finding an apartment for $1500. Googlemap "check cashing" using the intersection from your first best answer, 7th and 15th. You will be disappointed.

I moved into a gorgeous two bedroom, two bathroom apartment 1 stop from manhattan with views of the Empire State Building and the Macy's fireworks, and the rent was $1550. Thing is, the lease was rent-subsidized, the apartment reserved for middle income residents chosen by lottery, and $1,550 was below market back in Sept. 2000, when I moved in. Also, there was a check cashing place a block away. The apartment was in Fort Greene. You may have heard of it -- it's the neighborhood where my friends who bought a brownstone, also in Sept. 2000, for $400,000 are selling it for $1.2 million today. (I moved out of New York in March after realizing I couldn't afford to buy anything big enough to fit my kids).

Anyway, since you mentioned Dumbo, it is probably the closest thing you are looking for. Like Tribeca, it has the benefit of having been virtually uninhabited until the industrial lofts started getting converted into artist lofts, all of which are now luxury lofts. Which means downers like housing projects, check cashing places, and poor people never had the time the sneak in and ruin the place for you. Take the the F train to York Street and walk down Jay Street. Turn left, turn right. Doesn't matter. There's a few great, amazing places (like Jacques Torres's best croissants and hot chocolate in the city, a few blocks on Water Street to the left), and a few places you'll come to love because they're quirky and local. Just like the places mentioned by the posters in the best answers you've marked so far. Some places even serve food that is not fried.

You mention you are in your mid-thirties. I hope that is not too old for you to live with two roommates because rent in Dumbo is averaging $4,500-$3,500 a month.
posted by hhc5 at 11:38 PM on January 12, 2008

Park Slope and BK Heights are good places. So is Williamsburg. Be careful, though - some people have very "creative" definitions for these neighborhoods. For example, if you were to ask a real estate broker, they'd tell you that Williamsburg occupies the area roughly between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

So steer clear of "East Williamsburg" or anywhere near the Williamsburg Bridge. Also, watch out for "South Park Slope." This is the area formerly known as Gowanus. As in the Gowanus Canal, where they've apparently found traces of gonorrhea. I shit you not.

One often-overlooked part of Williamsburg is the old-school Italian neighborhood near the Graham stop. Nice, clean, family-ish sort of neighborhood. Good people. Rents are far more reasonable than those near the Bedford stop.

Another oft-overlooked part of Brooklyn is the area near Smith St. Basically, take the F to Smith & 9th, and get out and walk around. Good neighborhood. Lots of cool bars and stuff on Smith Street.

Greenpoint is also a great neighborhood. Lots of old-school Polish stuff there. Good people. Good food. Clean streets. Terrible subway access, though.

Also, don't count out Manhattan. You could definitely find a place in your price range, if you're willing to share with a roommate. However, be prepared - your room will be a lot smaller in MH than BK. I pay only marginally more for my room in Alphabet City than my friends in Williamsburg and Carroll Gardens, but I have far less space. This doesn't bother me, though, since I'm the kind of person who doesn't like to have a lot of stuff.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:39 PM on January 12, 2008

I don't know, Afroblanco, if you steer clear of the South Slope, it'll be hard to find something in the OP's price range. Besides, I lived in the South Slope for two very fun years in a beautiful, rent stabilized apartment. I was close to the subways, bars, and restaurants, and far from the Gowanus Canal. I agree with your general point about being wary of creative advertising, though. I think you just need to make sure you go look at neighborhoods, and then get a sense of whether you could be happy there.
posted by lassie at 12:22 AM on January 13, 2008

One often-overlooked part of Williamsburg is the old-school Italian neighborhood near the Graham stop. Nice, clean, family-ish sort of neighborhood. Good people. Rents are far more reasonable than those near the Bedford stop.

I love this neighborhood. It was the first area I lived upon moving to NYC. Less expensive than the Bedford area (tho still pricier than it used to be), and also slightly less clogged with the hippest of the hip.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 12:41 AM on January 13, 2008

I second the Williamsburg area. I lived off the Graham Ave. L train stop. The commute was only 10 minutes to Union Square (on a fantastic L train day), the rent was cheap, and the neighbors were fantastic. It's a great area, and near the city. Plus, the pizza was great!
posted by thesiameseffect at 1:45 AM on January 13, 2008

Afroblanco, we have check cashing places in Manhattan too!

The one at 38 E. 23rd St is less than half a mile from Gramercy Park for instance!
posted by Jahaza at 2:34 AM on January 13, 2008

Better Link
posted by Jahaza at 2:39 AM on January 13, 2008

Besides, I lived in the South Slope for two very fun years in a beautiful, rent stabilized apartment. I was close to the subways, bars, and restaurants, and far from the Gowanus Canal.

Ok, so perhaps I shouldn't have dissed the entirety of South Slope. There are parts that are very habitable. However, South Slope is different from Park Slope proper, and the OP should be aware of that. The studio where my band practices is in an area euphemistically referred to as "South Slope," and it's practically right on the Gowanus, with a lovely view of the BQE to boot. So I agree with your recommendation that the OP check things out for himself.
posted by Afroblanco at 6:43 AM on January 13, 2008

Best answer: One often-overlooked part of Williamsburg is the old-school Italian neighborhood near the Graham stop. Nice, clean, family-ish sort of neighborhood. Good people. Rents are far more reasonable than those near the Bedford stop.

I love this neighborhood.

It's really like one block from a pretty sketchy area though. I lived on the other side of it for a while, which I was ok with, but it was full of check cashing / 99ยข stores / public housing, etc. Cheap rent though. But I did once meet a guy who had been chased & assaulted on Grand & Graham. If you're going to check out Williamsburg I think you're probably looking for staying before the overpass, which is to say, by the Bedford stop. If you take the L one stop out and just get out and walk around, you'll get a good sense of things - it's not a big neighborhood, and "Bedford Street" is the main event. THere is spillover to some other areas - at night walk toward the river on 6th street; you could also check out Havemeyer street - there's a cute coffee shop on the corner out there, a little south (that's heading east but before you'd get to Lorimer street - mapquest it). But too far in any direction and you get into less desirable neighborhoods - still, I dunno if there's any part of brooklyn that doesn't work that way.

I think I would guess the Cobble Hill area for you, too, but I don't know it that well so can't give the details others have given. People I have known who lived there seem to fit your description though. It's kinda hipsteresque but in a yuppified way - there are people with kids and people with jobs and brownstones, but they still like listening to live music and talking about indie films and novels. BUt also going out for nice italian food. Sort of a relaxed back burner alt culture, is my sense. Park Slope has a rep for being family friendly and also for being dyke slope, for having a family friendly GBLT population, which largely means lesbians. Billyburg's rep was the hipster scene, trucker hats and poseurs, when that was the shit, but I don't really know if one can say there's a new face at this point or no. There are still plenty of clubs out there - I guess it's just not the hottest place in town anymore, but I don't think it's become a family neighborhood or anything. The east village is still the east village, after all. It's just not the only game in town anymore.
posted by mdn at 7:27 AM on January 13, 2008

Chiming in- also check out Prospect Heights (the neighborhood adjacent to Park Slope, north of Flatbush Avenue) has all sorts of interesting things happening. Just cross Flatbush at 7th Avenue when you get off the cue and check things out on Vanderbilt Ave. and parts east. The gentrification process, however, is not as thorough as it has been in Park Slope, and it sounds like that's an issue for you. On that note, I'm going to have to reiterate what several other posters have said- if you want to live in Brooklyn, you need to be a little more flexible about the realities of living in a diverse urban area. If you won't live within half a mile of a check cashing place, then you're going to need to move to Great Neck.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 8:08 AM on January 13, 2008

I was *not at all* revelling, merely describing. We can break out the census numbers if you like :) I would have included the same info in any other neighborhood. I just think it's kind of ridiculous to skirt around the issue.
posted by unknowncommand at 8:38 AM on January 13, 2008

I own a classic six in Midtown. Dealing with beggars is a fact of life EVERYWHERE in New York....the owner of my building (still half rentals) in all his wisdom kicked out a florist and replaced it with a bank. The doormen now have to chase out crackheads who've snuck into the ATM vestibule late at night.
posted by brujita at 9:54 AM on January 13, 2008

Also, as others have mentioned, number of check cashing places is a poor measure of a neighborhood. A more reliable indicator is DSPSF : dog shit per square foot. If people don't have the sense to clean up after their dogs, you don't want them as neighbors.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:22 AM on January 13, 2008

What issue, uknowncommand? Does not having people of color in a neighborhood guarantee safety? Every comment I read hear makes me sad for my old Brooklyn. I can't wait for the city to be done turning into Stepford.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 12:06 PM on January 13, 2008

I was describing the general appearance of the people who use the 7th ave F stop, and I think it's weird to omit that part of their description. Park Slope is particularly white for NYC, no judgment implied. In fact I think it's pretty bizarre, and no matter how much I love my neighborhood, I don't really fit in politically, socially, or even aesthetically. It is possible that the original poster, or anyone looking at this thread in the future, prefers a more ethnically-diverse neighborhood. In which case, I would suggest one on a different subway stop. I apologize if this sentiment was unclear.
posted by unknowncommand at 1:05 PM on January 13, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone who has answered sincerely; this is all very helpful.

This question and others past lead to the indication that NYC is just not the best place for me to live in general...I like clean, safe, affordable, wide-open spaces surrounded by all the modern conveniences. Having lived in many other parts of the country in which this situation is not only possible, but extremely common, it is still difficult for me to let go of the idea that I am going to somehow find it in New York as well.

And yet, here I am, with a very good job, and no chance of leaving any time soon, I'm tired of Hoboken, and my friends are increasingly in Brooklyn. I'm just trying to find the best possible situation that I can.
posted by bingo at 7:04 PM on January 13, 2008

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