Brooklyn wants to be the new Manhattan, and is striving hard for everyone to know, but no matter how much is publicized, it will hardly ever reach the level of popularity and interest that its neighbor the Big Apple awakens, and certainly if that it’s coming, it still has not. I am one of those travelers who, having days to spare in the city, decided to dedicate it a day, to see why so much commotion. My conclusion is that apart from the area surrounding the Brooklyn Bridge, which is certainly magnificent, the rest is not essential nowadays.
We begin our itinerary in the largest park in Brooklyn, Prospect Park, built by the same architects as Central Park, this being the preferred one of them. In my opinion it is a large park, but I would not know how to differentiate it from others in many cities. Yes, it is certainly quieter than Central Park. To get there from Manhattan, the most convenient subway lines are orange B and F, yellow Q, or red 2 and 3.
Adjacent to the park, to the east, separated only by Flatbush Avenue, are:
- The Botanical Garden (BBG). Some of its main attractions are the hill with more than 200 cherry trees, the first Japanese garden created on American land (in 1913) or its collection of greenhouse plants.
- Adult admission $ 15.
- It opens in summer from Tuesday to Friday from 8am to 6pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 6pm. In winter open from Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 4:30 pm.
- and the Brooklyn Museum. Housed in a gorgeous, classic-looking building, it is the third largest in all of New York, with more than 1 million and a half art works, from ancient Egypt to contemporary art.
- Open from Wednesday to Sunday from 11am to 6pm (Thursdays until 10pm).
- Free admission (suggested donation $ 16).
About 500 meters to the southwest is Green-Wood cemetery, which I did not visit but which is well considered. It overlooks Manhattan and some tombs are decorated with gothic motifs and remarkable statues. Open from 8am to 4pm (in summer until 7pm). There are guided tours. No pets or sports activities are allowed.
Immediately north of Prospect Park is the Grand Army Plaza.
We can continue for one kilometer along Flatbush Avenue to the Barclays Center, headquarters of Brooklyn Nets.
The walk is not at all attractive, but it does give us an idea of what most of Brooklyn is like.
Continuing on Flatbush we will arrive at the best area of Brooklyn, precisely the one closest to Manhattan. The views of the city are unbeatable, and the walks are extremely pleasant. It is a real shame that many tourists who go to New York do not go beyond the base of the Bridge.
- Fulton Street, with multiple stores.
- Brooklyn Bridge Park. This park parallel to the East River offers beautiful views of Manhattan and is newly renovated, very oriented to practice sports.
- Brooklyn Heights Promenade. Elevated parallel to Brooklyn Bridge Park, the views of the Manhattan Skyline are absolutely spectacular.
- And of course, Brooklyn Bridge.
Along with Central Park, is one of the best areas for running.
“Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass”. This small neighborhood is bounded on the north by the East River, on the west by the Brooklyn Bridge, on the south by York Street and on the east by Bridge Street. They try to sell it as modern, alternative, blahblahblah, but aside from its funny name and the hyper-repeated photo of the Manhattan Bridge, it has nothing at all.
In this case, Brooklyn has done a very good job. This copy is almost indistinguishable from East or West Village; alternative-vintage, with many cafes, organic shops, restaurants, graffiti and people who consider themselves too vintage, cool and alternative for Manhattan, North Williamsburg, mainly Bedford Avenue, is a neighborhood on fashion.
But it is not well connected by subway, and the time wasted in getting there makes it not worth visiting if we have little time and we have already visited the similar East or Greenwich Village.
- Arriving from Brooklyn Heights or from Prospect Heights to the interesting areas by metro or bus is really complicated, long and tedious.
- It’s easier, though still long and tedious, to go back to Manhattan and look for connections with the orange line M (which barely works on Sundays) or the brown line J to get off at Marcy Av station, which is right in the middle of Williamsburg. From Manhattan you can also take the gray L line to Bedford station.
- From Brooklyn it is much faster and easier to take a taxi or Uber, we will arrive in 10 minutes and it should cost about $ 20.
A really curious area is the ultra-Orthodox part of the Jewish quarter. It extends along Lee Avenue (parallel east of Bedford) from Division Avenue to Heyward Street, approximately. This part is not nice; the streets are not very clean, the facades are broken or badly finished and in general it is quite austere, but it is interesting to see how more than 50% of the people around us are dressed in black and white, with ringlets and Jewish Orthodox clothes, be men, women or children, be clerks on stores, waiters or security guards. I did not take photos because I felt uncomfortable, as if I was invading the privacy of the people who were walking down the street, but if someone decides to visit Williamsburg, I recommend approaching this part of the neighborhood.
Here I have never been, but I have it aimed to go if it coincides that I go at Christmas, since in this neighborhood the biggest neighborhood competition of Christmas decorations is organized on the facades of buildings throughout the city. A real show.
Dyker Heights is southwest of Brooklyn; By subway, the most convenient stop is Fort Hamilton Parkway, although several nearby also on the yellow lines N and R can be useful.