Between 1990 and 2014, rents increased by 78% in Williamsburg. The average increase across New York City for that time was 22%. Bedford Avenue, the heart of Williamsburg, is a tourist attraction as much as anything else these days. And because Williamsburg is so close to Manhattan, the prices are much higher than its adjacent neighborhoods. It’s only one or two stops on the L train, one or two stops on the J/M/Z and you are at 14th Street or on the Lower East Side. The rents have increased so much that the original artists and hipsters that once populated Williamsburg have largely moved further out, into East Williamsburg and Bushwick.
Williamsburg is still a very desirable neighborhood. There are fantastic restaurants and shopping opportunities. East River State Park offers a gorgeous view of the Manhattan skyline, with plenty of grassy space and picnic tables. Walking down Bedford Avenue, there are plenty of independent retailers, coffee shops, and restaurants to keep you occupied. Williamsburg also has a large Hasidic Jewish community.
Greenpoint has experienced gentrification but not to the same extent as the other three neighborhoods in North Brooklyn. Partially due to the G train service in the area, it is more difficult to get to Manhattan and more difficult to get to other parts of North Brooklyn by train. Greenpoint has historically been a Polish neighborhood though there is also a large population of Hispanics and North Africans. The neighborhood has a family-oriented feel and is clean and quiet, especially compared to East Williamsburg and Bushwick. The East Ferry, while not part of MTA, is a good way to commute to Manhattan from Greenpoint.
East Williamsburg is the area between Williamsburg and Bushwick. The Grand, Montrose, and Morgan stops on the L service the area, though the boundaries of this neighborhood aren’t particularly well-defined. Many people refer to the area as either Williamsburg, Bushwick or Greenpoint, as it falls in between the three. The area has a large Puerto Rican population as well as a growing arts scene.
Bushwick is the farthest from Manhattan of these four neighborhoods and is still largely a working class neighborhood. It is serviced by the L and the J/M/Z trains. Bushwick is the artsier older sibling of Williamsburg and Greenpoint. There are notably more murals and lofts, and fewer private businesses. Many choose Bushwick for the available space and studio areas, but there are still plenty of attractions in the neighborhood as well as a strong community of both artists and families.
Flat or Tall?: Varies widely across these neighborhoods; high-rise luxury condo buildings are shooting up in Williamsburg (in particular North Williamsburg) and near the water generally, while brownstones and walk-ups make up more of the housing stock further inland.
History: Originally pronounced “Boos Wick,” Bushwick was one of the original settlements by the Dutch. As more Europeans came in the later 19th and early 20th Century, industry and factories began popping up in Northern Brooklyn. Germans especially migrated to East Williamsburg and Bushwick, where they built a large brewery culture, much of which still exists, even with the more modern breweries like Brooklyn Brewery on North 11th St. Around the same time, the construction of the Williamsburg Bridge in 1903, dubbed the “Jewish Expressway” brought the Lower East Side and the Bronx’s notable Jewish populations to Williamsburg, which explains that community’s prominence today.
The 1950s-80s were a time of immense poverty for the area, but the 1990s brought a big change. Manhattan was becoming expensive, and artists as well as working families sought refuge in the cheaper and calmer locations of North Williamsburg. The City and State of New York have worked hard to effectively reduce crime in these once-dangerous areas and to make the neighborhoods increasingly livable and enjoyable.
Activities: Dining, music, concerts, galleries, shopping, flea markets, tourism
Check it out: Williamsburg Flea is held every Sunday on the waterfront at N. 6th St and May-September, Saturdays host the famous Smorgasburg food festival at the same location.
Population Density: According to the April 2010 census, 2,504,700 people live in Brooklyn, New York, accounting for just over 30% of NYC’s total population.
Adjacent Neighborhoods: Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, East New York, Long Island City (Queens), Ridgewood (Queens)
Public Transit: Subways L/G/J/M/Z; trains B24, B32, B38, B39, B43, B48, B49, B54, B57. East River Ferry to North 6th St, South 11th St