Brooklyn: The Insider Guide

Not so long ago, for many people, the way was “to the other side of the bridge” and this meant passing the historic Brooklyn Bridge, unthinkable for many die-hard Manhattans. Whoever lived in Manhattan didn’t want to go to Brooklyn?! What’s there to see in Brooklyn? Even the taxi drivers had trouble offering their services all the way to Brooklyn.

Today Brooklyn belongs to the most popular districts of the mega-metropolis New York City and is as famous as Manhattan itself. Brooklyn in New York is an independent place with many exciting and so wonderfully authentic areas that one does not know where to go first and last. In this guide, you will learn all about the hippest corners of the East River and therefore you will be well prepared if you dare to cross the bridge yourself.

Brooklyn is one of the five boroughs of New York City and is located in the southeast of New York City – at the western end of Long Island. In the northeast, there is the only border to the district Queens. On the opposite side of Upper New York Bay are Manhattan (northwest) and Staten Island (west). Brooklyn extends over a land area of 251 km² and a water surface of 68 km² and is with approximately 2.6 million inhabitants the largest of the 5 Boroughs.

People of all religions and backgrounds have found their home in Brooklyn over the years. The gap between rich and poor is particularly noticeable here. About 35% of the inhabitants are black and African-Americans, who live mainly in the east and north of Brooklyn. In addition to an ever-increasing number of Asians, Italians, Poles, Russians, and Hispanics also live in the multi-cultural area.

The history of Brooklyn

Brooklyn was founded in 1634 by the Dutch as Breuckelen. The name comes from the city of Breukelen near Utrecht. Until 1898, the then Breuckelen was an independent city, until it was incorporated into New York. But the district has retained a strong independence until today, which is something the inhabitants of Brooklyn also attach great importance to.

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In the year 1664, the whole colony Nieuw Nederland was conquered by the English. Over time, Breukelen became Brockland, then Brocklin, also Brookline stood on paper for some years until the area was finally and finally renamed to Brooklyn. The English reorganized the province of New York in 1683 into twelve administrative districts. The Kings County, named after King Charles II, was one of these so-called counties. By signing the “Peace of Paris” in 1783, New York and Brooklyn fell to the Americans.

When the Erie Canal was opened in 1825, the area around New York became an important trading center, which led to the development of new villages along the East River. The population grew rapidly with the construction of numerous railway lines from 1863 onwards. At the latest with the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge in the year 1883, Brooklyn and the city New York that at that time only consisted on Manhattan and the Bronx moved closer together. Further incorporations of Williamsburg (1854), New Lots, Flatbush, Gravesend and New Utrecht (all in 1894) followed. The election by a narrow majority for the union of Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island resulted in the 5 Boroughs we know today. Brooklyn also played a significant role during the Second World War, as much of the material and personnel were sent to Europe via the Brooklyn Army Terminal.

Sights in Brooklyn

Due to the size of Brooklyn, one can only guess at the complexity that awaits one if one wants to explore the sightseeings. The Brooklyn Bridge, home of the Brooklyn Nets – the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Green-Wood Cemetery, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Brooklyn Museum – the list is long. There is a lot to see in Brooklyn.

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Brooklyn Heights & Dumbo, Park Slope & Prospect Heights, Williamsburg and Coney Island & Brighton Beach are among the top areas in Brooklyn that are definitely worth a visit.

Areas like Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, and Cobble Hill (also called BoCaCa for short) of course also have their own charm and radiate their own charm just like Red Hook or Fort Greene. The most important sights and attractions in Brooklyn you will not find there.

Flea market in Brooklyn

A special tip for the flea market fans among you: Every weekend, people make the pilgrimage to Brooklyn to hit the hottest flea markets.

The Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene is probably the most famous. Open from April to November, over 150 stalls display their goods here every Saturday (address: 176 Lafayette Avenue). Another location (always Sundays) is the hip Williamsburg with the Williamsburg Flea (address: 50 Kent Avenue).

Smorgasburg (an open-air “food market”) can be found on Saturdays directly at the Williamsburg Waterfront (address: 90 Kent Avenue). Greenpoint’s Brooklyn Night Bazaar is an indoor location that is especially popular on cold days. The funny thing is: here you only shop after dark: from 19:00 – 1:00 o’clock at night on Fridays and Saturdays from 18:00 – 1:00 o’clock.

The neighborhoods of Brooklyn

I have selected the best places for you and found the real insider spots, restaurants and sightseeing tips. Read more in the following guides about Brooklyn Heights & Dumbo, Park Slope & Prospect Heights, Williamsburg and Coney Island & the wonderful Brighton Beach.

Brooklyn Heights & Dumbo

Home to many wealthy families and business people is the beautiful area in Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo. In this neighborhood you’ll find tree-lined streets, historic brownstone houses, breathtaking views of Lower Manhattan and super stylish lofts in abandoned industrial areas at the foot of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. This mixture gives this area of Brooklyn its special charm.

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Park Slope & the Prospect Heights

If you believe the cliché, Park Slope Brooklyn & Prospect Heights is the center of life for housewives in New York City. It is one of the most perfect places to raise children in a big city like this. It is said that there are more strollers and families on the streets than cars. Between the listed Brownstone homes, which are worth between two and six million dollars today, you actually meet the determined mothers who are proud to be part of this great area.

Williamsburg

Williamsburg in Brooklyn is the hipster wonderland, long more hip than the East Village in Manhattan and definitely not a dangerous place, as many still think. Particularly popular with the creative, artistic, freedom-loving residents of New York, modern Williamsburg is currently the turning point for many.

Coney Island & Brighton Beach

The combination of the old attractions of the amusement park, newly created rides and the traditional treasures due to the proximity to the sea makes Coney Island New York one of the attractions in the mega-metropolis New York City. Already in the 19th century, the peninsula has developed into a recreational and fun center for the urban population of New York City. It is mainly locals who escape the summer heat here and cool off in the Atlantic Ocean. After all, there are hardly any outdoor swimming pools in New York City. The few park pools are often hopelessly overcrowded.