The largest of New York City’s boroughs in terms of population (2.5 million), and the second largest in area (78.5 square miles), Brooklyn was a city in its own right, separate from New York, up until 1898. It had its own city hall, central park, downtown shops, museums, theaters, beaches, botanical garden, and zoo—all of which helps account for its fierce sense of identity and pride. Of all the boroughs, Brooklyn is the most individualistic, the most mythic, and the most complex.
Brooklyn is: Walt Whitman, Coney Island, the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Brooklyn Bridge, Mae West, Nathan’s Famous, Bazooka bubble gum, Lena Horne, John Travolta, Jackie Gleason, the Brooklyn Navy Yards, Mickey Rooney, Topps baseball cards, Pete Hamill, Barbra Streisand, Prospect Park, Chock Full o’ Nuts, Junior’s cheesecake, and Spike Lee.
Brooklyn is also the borough of churches and the borough of ethnic neighborhoods. In total, more than 90 ethnic groups call Brooklyn home, among them Hasidic Jews, West Indians, Latin Americans, Russians, Poles, Scandinavians, Asians, Italians, Middle Easterners, and Irish.
The once quite residential neighborhoods are now thriving. Brooklyn’s housing stock of beautiful brownstones have attracted people looking for more space and charming digs. As artists and young people are priced out of Manhattan real estate, more and more have move across the bridge, bringing along their support for creating a hip local arts and foodie haven.
For information on special events, or to obtain a visitors guide, contact Brooklyn Information & Culture Inc. (718/855-7882, www.brooklynx.org).
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition