Brooklyn remains one of the more fiercely independent places in all of New York City. Although the Borough was officially incorporated into the greater city in 1898, it has long-rivaled its more popular neighbor Manhattan across the river for the tallest buildings, the most impressive parks and museums and for the ingenuity of its residents.
One of the more visible artifacts of this competitive spirit and creativity is Brooklyn’s love affair with all things handcrafted, artisanal and one-of-a-kind. What is it about Brooklyn that makes it so creative exactly? Call it a symptom of the pride Brooklyn’s residents have for their unique brownstone neighborhoods. Or chalk it up to the high creativity of the area’s many transplants from around the world. But whether it’s made-from-scratch pickles, chocolate or beer, a lovingly crafted musical instrument or quirky piece of jewelry or hooded sweatshirt, the labors of Brooklyn refuse to be homogeneous.
And what about you, dear reader – are you looking for a one-of-a-kind gift or souvenir from your visit to the Big Apple? Does the prospect of some handcrafted beer make you thirsty? Perhaps some custom-made cologne, perfume or clothing is more your style? Grab the next subway out of Manhattan: this week’s edition of Undiscovered New York is handmade, straight from Brooklyn. Click below to read more.
They say smell is the sense most closely associated with memory – Brooklyn scent-makers at D.S. & Durga seem to have taken the idea to heart. The pair of budding smell-smiths have been producing small batch handmade colognes and perfumes since 2007, sourcing plant extracts, resins and oils from around the world. Stop by one of their Brooklyn retail outlets and pick up a custom made bottle for yourself.
While D.S. & Durga are playing around with notes of scent like citrus and ginger, the craftsmen at Sadowsky Guitars have a very different kind of note-making in mind. Though New York has a long history as a center for guitar-making companies, the team at Sadowsky operates out of a small store in Brooklyn. They have produced custom guitars, basses and audio products for such musicians as Adam Clayton from U2 and Lenny Kravitz. If it’s good enough for these accomplished axe-handlers, guitarists everywhere can bet there’s a custom guitar there waiting to built just for you.
When it comes to clothing, Brooklyn’s got a style all its own. Men and women alike swear by local clothing chain Brooklyn Industries. They stock a wide range of quirky bags, outerwear, t-shirts and dresses to suit the most discerning fashion-lovers. It’s gotten so popular you can now find retail outlets well beyond the chain’s Brooklyn home in locations as far away as Chicago and Portland.
If customization is your thing, look no further than Brooklyn favorite Neighborhoodies. The clothing chain, which lets customers design one-of-a-kind hooded sweatshirts and t-shirts emblazoned with personal messages and imagery, first got its start in this most creative of Boroughs. This isn’t your boring old iron-on we’re talking about here – the letters can be hand-stitched onto any clothing item and can include graphics like guns, monkeys and thunderbolts.
As was noted in a recent article by the New York Times, Brooklyn has become ground zero for one of the country’s most interesting and creative artisanal food scenes. Passionate foodies and chefs are making just about every kind of foodstuff imaginable from scratch, including items like chocolate, cheese and pickles.
But it doesn’t stop there – beer lovers should make sure to try out one of the Borough’s several local brews. Local favorites include Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Brewery, where visitors can take a tour and to sample a few of their recent specialities, or the Brooklyn brewers at Sixpoint Craft Ales. Meanwhile, the small-batch pickle makers of Wheelhouse crank out seasonal experimental pickle flavors like Champagne Vinegar Spears as well as standbys including Big Bang Okra and Top Shelf Beets.