Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Brooklyn Experience

Why Brooklyn?

We just purchased our third townhouse in Brooklyn (as mentioned in prior posts).  After selling our Park Slope limestone, I contemplated leaving Brooklyn, of taking New York money and using it to live grandly, really grandly, almost anywhere else.  I dreamed about a house with some land, a pool,  a gym, and maybe even a cutting garden.What a resplendent life we could have!

 But, that didn't happen, we didn't depart Brooklyn, we stayed. Actually, the thought of leaving Brooklyn was, well, fleeting, at best.

 But why? 
Why can't we get New York, or better yet, Brooklyn, out of our system? 
While only scratching the surface, here are a few of the many reasons...

Grand Army Plaza in beautiful Park Slope

First : There is no getting bored in Brooklyn.

On any given weekend, it is not uncommon for our family to take a quick morning walk and somehow not return until late in the evening. Without a plan, we can wander from one park to the next, stopping at restaurants (with renown chefs in the kitchen), shopping in various neighborhoods, buzzing into the Brooklyn Museum to visit our friends Rothko, Degas and Mondrian, and then, without fail, running into another family who, likewise, were out on a "walk."

This encounter invariably turns into an improptu afternoon playdate which then leads to someone darting into the local market (where specialty items such as imported D'Affonois cheese or obscure ingredients for a recipe from the newest Ottolenghi cookbook can be procured). Time flies, and soon dinner for 10 is being prepared in the kitchen of whomever lives closest.  Unparalleled worldly conversion transpires around a well laid tabled, all the while, children run around, having the time of their lives,  in the rear yard. That's how it is here, a typical Saturday in Brooklyn, and it's hard to give that up.

View from a Brooklyn Heights roof terrace

Second: Manhattan!

With 2.6 million people, Brooklyn would be the 3rd largest city in America, just behind Chicago, if it were separated out from the rest of New York City.  By itself, it is its own electric metropolis.  But, it's not by itself. In its front yard is Manhattan, full of theater, culture, music, style, and maybe some mischief.  While there is no getting bored in Brooklyn, Manhattan's hustle and bustle can be a pleasant diversion.

Park Slope

Third: The rich diversity

Every nationality is represented in Brooklyn.  On our daughter's short walk to school every morning, she is likely to encounter an Indian person, a homeless person, a gay person, a Muslim person, a billionaire, a disabled person, a Guyanese person, and maybe even a Schiek!  She doesn't understand prejudice in the same way that other kids her age, living in more segregated areas, might. Moreover,  people do not see her same-gender parents as being unusual. So, for us, diversity enriches our lives, gives us a wide range of cultural experiences and can be wonderfully inclusive and protective for all types of families. 

Historic homes in Brooklyn Heights

Aside from various religions, skin colors and types of families that can be found in Brooklyn,  there are various neighborhoods. Brownstone Brooklyn comprises of a cluster of towns, all linked together, each having their own small-town feel. Here are a few:

Blending old and new,  in cavernous DUMBO

  Park Slope -- almost an Edwardian feel, popular with athletic types, and celebrities
Windsor Terrace -- quiet, eclectic, lots of young families
Brooklyn Heights -- tasteful, almost colonial, and expensive
Carroll Gardens -- old world Italian mixed with yuppies
Fort Greene - diverse, mature, multi-cultural
Williamsburg -- indie art, trendy,  and young. 

Chandelier in the Brooklyn Museum

Fourth - The Style

Much like the rest of New York City, in Brooklyn, everyone has their own style -- and it's all acceptable.  What sets Brooklyn apart is that the style is slightly less polished than in Manhattan, it is a bit more eclectic, and a little more irreverent.  But, like its people, Brooklyn style is still smart,  just a little more rolled up. This applies to more than what is worn on people's backs. It carries over to how homes are furnished and how the gardens are tended, and how restaurants and shops present themselves. It's beautiful. 

Fifth -- The Food

Simply put, Brooklyn continue to dominate as the food capital.  If the food is not good, it doesn't make it here. Enough said! 

Saturday in DUMBO

Brooklyn, with all its rich history, and familial roots (everyone seems to come from here), is easily the best borough to wander and mill about at random. Having lived here a good part of my adult life, I find it surprising that I can still chance upon sites that I had not experienced previously. It's truly a place for everyone, even if only for a day.  

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