Brooklyn is a big city in its own right. Kings County is the 2nd most densely populated county in the United States, and if Brooklyn were its own city, it would be the third largest by population. Brooklyn’s neighborhoods are diverse and dynamic, from stately townhomes in Park Slope to luxury condos in DUMBO, to pre-war railroads in Bedford Stuyvesant or to housing projects in up-and-coming East New York, the borough, at 70 square miles, has its own downtown, a beach and a ferris wheel, a botanical garden, and its own sprawling parks. Brooklyn’s neighborhoods (like most in the metropolitan area) are in constant churn and the ethnicities of different neighborhoods are constantly changing. The economic and rental landscapes are complicated. Over the last twenty years, the borough has been gentrifying rapidly, with some neighborhoods (Williamsburg and Greenpoint) seeing rental increases as high as 78% since 1990. In other neighborhoods, those changes are still in flux.
Brooklyn is known for its character. As Manhattan becomes more and more a borough exclusively for the wealthy and its character gets stripped away, young artists and performers have been moving to the outer boroughs, and Brooklyn, for the most part has been their home. Brooklyn has retained its bookstores, and opened new ones in the past 10 years, cafes and bars and restaurants are opening every week, and there is a culture of art and creation. While Brooklyn can be an oasis from the noise and intensity of Manhattan, many of its residents can’t avoid the city forever. 70% of people who live outside of Manhattan in NYC commute daily into Manhattan.
Many parts of Brooklyn are quickly becoming unaffordable for their original residents and their gentrifiers. So expect to see lots of change in the coming months and years.
The public transportation system of New York City is expansive and reliable. The services extend to Brooklyn and operate 24/7, and the subways supply access to most of Brooklyn’s vast neighborhoods. Driving and parking is generally considered to be easier in Brooklyn, as there are more parking spots, and likely also because there are fewer reckless cabs. This is a plus and a minus, however, because depending on the neighborhood you’re in, hailing a cab may be difficult. However, Uber is widely used in parts of Brooklyn, and local car services serve a majority of Brooklynites.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decade in office saw a dramatic increase in NYC support for bikers. Brooklyn has seen countless new miles of bike lanes over the last few years. That, as well as the expansion of Citibike to Brooklyn, creates a comfortable and speedy biking experience throughout Brooklyn. And while biking alongside seemingly reckless cab drivers, aggressive bus drivers, and blind-spot laden delivery trucks is not for everyone, a bike during rush hour traffic can often be faster than any other mode of transportation, especially when there is no direct subway line to your destination.
- See a show at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music); the arts center known for progressive and avante-garde performances of dance, music, and cinema.
- Go for a walk through Prospect Park and take a moment to smell the flowers at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.
- Wander through DUMBO to see Brooklyn’s sometimes ignored, but nevertheless beautiful waterfront, enjoy some good bites at DUMBO’s food trucks, and take in the breathtaking views of Manhattan.
- Everyone loves the beach. Coney Island, at the very edge of Brooklyn, offers water, Nathan’s famous hot dogs, a Ferris Wheel and a roller coaster.
- Take a quiet stroll through Green-Wood Cemetery, a mid-19th gothic revival century garden cemetery. Pay homage to Basquiat and other famous New Yorkers.
- Walk down Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, the longest street in Brooklyn that stretches through Greenpoint to Flatbush. Peak into boutique clothing shops and sip on delicious $5 coffee.
While not as expensive as Manhattan, Brooklyn’s no bargain either. In 2010 Brooklyn’s composite cost of living (based on annual data) was 81.7% higher than the average US urban area. Also in 2010 the Brooklyn cost of housing was a healthy 101% higher than the average US urban area.
- Brooklyn College
- Pratt Institute
- New York City College of Technology
- NYU Polytechnic
- Long Island University
- Medgar Evers College