Undiscovered New York: Strolling “Brownstone Brooklyn”

Welcome back to Undiscovered New York. It’s often said that New York is a city made for walking. Between one of the world’s largest subway systems and an increasingly pedestrian-friendly city government, walking is typically the easiest (and most enjoyable) way to get around town.

In fact, walking isn’t just a practical way to get around. One of the great pleasures for any New Yorker is the leisurely stroll of his/her chosen neighborhood of residence. Within any given block you’re likely to encounter the sights, sounds and smells that give New York its particular personality – the bright green awnings of the neighborhood bodega, the thwack of rubber against concrete at the local handball court, or the gently wafting scent of fresh-baked loaves of bread.

Although just about all of the city of New York is a great place for walking, it’s only in Brooklyn that walking reaches its purest form. Don’t get us wrong, Manhattan’s got plenty of accessible pavement, and Queens and the Bronx are sidewalk friendly too. But there’s just something about Brooklyn and its stately rows of elegant old Brownstone houses, placid parks and tiny storefronts that has particular appeal.

This week at Undiscovered New York, we’re taking you on a leisurely tour of one of Brooklyn’s most famous old Brownstone neighborhoods: Brooklyn Heights. And we’re doing it the way Brooklyn was meant to be seen – by foot. Interested in walking one of New York’s most beautiful old neighborhoods? Curious to see where authors like Tom Wolfe and rocker Bob Dylan once lived? How about an interesting look inside Middle Eastern culture in New York City? Let’s take a stroll through “Brownstone Brooklyn…”
A Walk Through Brooklyn Heights
As the settlement of New York began to grow rapidly in the early 1800’s, a new “commuter town” appeared along the banks of the East River opposite downtown New York. This new neighborhood, now known as Brooklyn Heights, became home to street after street of grandiose mansions, tall, shady trees and stately Brownstones. If you’ve heard of the beauty of Manhattan’s West Village, imagine an area just as beautiful – except minus all the gawking tourists.

Brooklyn Heights is one of the easiest, most beautiful and interesting spots to kick off your Brooklyn walking tour. Take a stroll along beautiful Pierrepont Street, stopping at the ornate building that houses the Brooklyn Historical Society. In addition to being a beautiful building, the site is filled with exhibits on the Borough’s history.

Just a block south is the commercial strip of Montague Street, lined with cafes and restaurants. Rock legend Bob Dylan claimed to have lived along this historic strip in his song Tangled Up in Blue. Then make your way south along Hicks Street, pausing to admire the majestic 19th Century facades. Book-lovers might also want to check out 5 Montague Terrace, once home to novelist Thomas Wolfe in the 1930’s.

Down Atlantic Avenue
Just south of Brooklyn Heights is Atlantic Avenue, one of Brooklyn’s most prominent East-West thoroughfares. A walk along this interesting and rapidly changing strip of Brooklyn will take you through the heart of some of the Borough’s more interesting businesses and landmarks. Between Clinton and Court Streets lies a strip of Middle Eastern restaurants, groceries and bakeries. Neighborhood favorite Sahadi’s stocks a wide variety of dry fruits and nuts as well as Middle Eastern specialty food products. Stop into nearby Damascus Bakery for a piece of Baklava or some of their famous pita bread.

Just a little further east, near the corner of Atlantic and Hoyt, you begin to enter one of Brooklyn’s more famous antique districts. The area’s biggest hub for antique and vintage furniture of all kinds is Horseman Antiques. Covering over three floors, Horseman stocks everything from vintage sofas to stained glass. For something a bit more modern, keep going just down the street to artez’n, a quirky shop specializing in locally produced artwork and gifts.