Brooklyn

Grand Army Plaza

Brooklyn, the "Borough of Homes and Churches," is one of the five Boroughs of New York City. It used to be and still feels much like a city in its own right, with approximately 2.5 million inhabitants. If separated from the rest of New York City, Brooklyn would be the 4th most populous American city.

Brooklyn is situated on the westernmost point of Long Island and shares a land boundary with Queens, which partially encircles Brooklyn to the north, east and south; Manhattan lies across the East River to the west and north of Brooklyn, and Staten Island is across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to the southwest.

Brooklyn is currently enjoying a period of growth and affluence not seen since before World War II. The Brooklyn Academy of Music boasts world class theater performances, and the nearby Barclays Center is the home of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets. Coney Island's Luna Park is one of the attractions for summer crowds seeking fun during the New York summer heat.

Downtown Brooklyn been undergoing extensive redevelopment and now boasts upscale boutiques, abundant public spaces, and the Brooklyn Bridge Park stretching along the waterfront and providing unparalleled views of New York City skyline. Prospect Park, a national historic site, was even preferred by its designer Frederick Law Olmsted to his other creation, Manhattan's Central Park. Williamsburg has recently been named by Forbes as one of America's Best Hipster Neighborhoods. Brighton Beach is home to New York's largest concentration of Russian immigrants, while the growing 8th Avenue Chinatown paints a more authentic picture of New York's Asian community than its counterpart in Manhattan. However, despite the recent developments, Brooklyn is full of old gems, like family-owned brick-oven pizzerias, dive bars that seemingly haven't changed since 1950s, and vast historical neighborhoods with buildings dating back to Dutch colonial times.

Districts

Brooklyn's districts
Williamsburg
Well known for its large artistic community, it is a diverse area with hipsters centered around Bedford Avenue, Orthodox Jews in South Williamsburg, a sizeable Polish population in Greenpoint, and a large Hispanic population and a growing arts community in Bushwick.
Downtown
The main tourism district in Brooklyn, Downtown Brooklyn has majestic buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, and an unparalleled view of the Manhattan skyline.
Gowanus and Red Hook
While it might have formerly been known for a high crime rate, Red Hook has recently become an artists' colony and was home to MTV's Real World Brooklyn cast. The nearby areas of Gowanus and Carroll Gardens are good places to explore some of Brooklyn's industrial history.
Prospect Park
Pretty brownstone houses, the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, and more, all ringing Olmstead and Vaux's preferred park.
Greenwood and New Utrecht
The big attraction is the historic Green-Wood cemetery, one of the largest in New York and the final resting place of several notable people. Other attractions include New York's third Chinatown and an Italian enclave in the west of Brooklyn.
Bedford-Stuyvesant and Flatbush
The beating heart of Brooklyn is home to New York's largest African-American neighborhood, many West Indian immigrants, a large Orthodox Jewish community, mighty shopping streets, beautiful Victorian homes, and much of the classic history of Brooklyn.
Coney Island and Brighton Beach
Home to the fabled Coney Island amusement parks. The neighborhood has seen a rise in tourism with the opening of the brand-new Luna Park amusement park. Also home to New York's only aquarium, the Cyclones minor league baseball team, the original Nathan's restaurant, and one of the largest Russian-speaking communities outside the former USSR.
East Brooklyn
While certain neighborhoods in this section are pretty rough and this one is off the average tourist's radar (except for its proximity to JFK), this section has some attractions near Jamaica Bay.

There are a variety of neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Small Town Brooklyn has a scrollable map of many of them:

Brooklyn neighborhoods
Flatbush Town Hall

Understand

The borough of Brooklyn is coterminous with Kings County—the counterpart of Queens County to the north—but hardly anyone calls it that except in occasional official correspondence.

Brooklyn was once a separate city independent of the City of New York. The cities merged at the end of the nineteenth century, forever after lamented by Brooklynites as "The Great Mistake of 1898." Although Brooklyn is very diverse, what makes Brooklyn so different from the other boroughs are its distinct cultural neighborhoods. Manhattan is frequently referred to as "the city" by residents of the other boroughs for example, in the phrase "I'm going to the city." Many Brooklynites have a great deal of pride in their borough, and most New Yorkers consider Brooklynites to have an identity distinct from that of other New Yorkers. In any case, remember while speaking to Brooklynites that referring to Manhattan as "the city" is acceptable but calling Manhattan "New York City" is not. Be careful not to confuse Brooklyn and the Bronx - they are very different parts of New York City.

Visitor Information

Get in

By subway

From Manhattan

Most lines pass through Downtown Brooklyn and stop at Atlantic Avenue - Barclays Center, the largest subway stop outside Manhattan. From here, you can transfer between 2345BDQN and get to almost any destination in Brooklyn. You can also walk about two blocks north of the station to find Fulton Street G and Lafayette Avenue C stations. To use these, however, you have to pay another fare or have an unlimited rides card.

For northern parts of Brooklyn, the L crosses into Williamsburg and Bushwick, then continues further east. The JZM lines will get you to those same neighborhoods but a bit further south.

From Queens

There are four lines you can take to get directly from Queens to Brooklyn. The G snakes from Long Island City through Williamsburg and Downtown Brooklyn before ending near Prospect Park. Although it's seemingly the most direct route from Queens to Brooklyn, the service is notoriously slow and irregular, to the point where sometimes it's faster to get to Brooklyn through Manhattan. The A goes from the Rockaways in Queens, connecting with the JFK AirTrain at Howard Beach, and through the eastern edges of Brooklyn into Bedford-Stuyvesant and Downtown Brooklyn before continuing in Manhattan. The JZ go from Jamaica in Queens (accessible via AirTrain from JFK) into Bushwick and Williamsburg. The M travels from central Queens to Bushwick and Williamsburg, but note that on weekends its service terminates at Myrtle Avenue, requiring a transfer to the J for further service into Williamsburg and Manhattan.

By LIRR

The Long Island Rail Road has a major station at Atlantic Terminal (Atlantic Avenue subway station), which is accessible from the Atlantic Avenue/Pacific Street combined subway stop, served by the 2, 3, 4, 5 (on weekdays), B (on weekdays), D, N, Q, and R lines and near the Lafayette Avenue station of the C train and the Fulton Street station of the G train. Other LIRR stops in Brooklyn are Nostrand Av. at Atlantic Avenue (served by the A and C subway lines a few blocks away on Fulton Street) and East New York (served by the A, C, L, J, and Z a few blocks away at Broadway Junction and the L at Atlantic Avenue, though Broadway Junction is probably a safer bet). Eastbound trains continue to Jamaica Station in Queens, from where passengers can change to most LIRR lines for points further east or take the AirTrain to John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK). The LIRR no longer runs in Brooklyn during late nights (midnight to around 5AM), so to get to JFK from Downtown Brooklyn then, you have to take the A

By bus

Brooklyn is covered by an extensive network of MTA buses, for which a map is essential . Of particular note is the B51 bus, which runs between City Hall in Manhattan and Smith St./Fulton St. in Downtown Brooklyn, via the Manhattan Bridge. The trip is particularly beautiful on the way to Manhattan because of the skyline. Note that the bus operates only on weekdays, with the last bus leaving Smith St./Fulton St. at 7:10PM and from Park Row at 7:40PM, according to the current schedule and depending on traffic. See the MTA website for bus maps and schedules of individual bus lines. The B39 travels over the East River on the Williamsburg Bridge between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Another route of note is the B15, which runs between JFK Airport and the Woodhull Hospital in South Williamsburg. Service on that route is provided around the clock. Possibly the longest mostly straight-line bus route in Brooklyn is the B41, which runs nearly the length of Flatbush Avenue from the line's northern terminal near Borough Hall just west of Flatbush Avenue itself to Kings Plaza at Avenue U (with a branch to the Mill Basin and Bergen Beach areas), about 9 miles away. Other long routes run a limited-stop service that stops at major intersections and points of interest. Limited-stop service is provided on the B6, B41, B44 (along Nostrand/Bedford Avenues), B46 (along Utica Avenue), and B35 (along Church Avenue). That pattern is in effect from around 6AM-10PM daily on these routes (5AM-11:30PM on the B46). The B49 has southbound limited-stop service on weekday mornings, mainly tailored for college students traveling to Kingsborough Community College. The B103 is a limited-stop route between Downtown Brooklyn and Canarsie, which runs on weekdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

One can also take express buses, with an X prefix, to/from Manhattan ($6.00 one way). Most express buses serve Southern Brooklyn, for the most part an area that's somewhat subway deprived, especially to the east. The X27 and X28 run daily from around 6AM-11:30PM. Other express routes run every day except Sunday and have a BM prefix.

By car

The Brooklyn Bridge

The connections between Queens and Brooklyn are too numerous to mention, because the two boroughs share a land boundary, so almost every street on the border just continues into the other borough. (Prior to 1990, the street signs in each borough had different colors, but they have since all become green - with the exception of brown signs for historic streets - and can no longer be useful in distinguishing between the boroughs.)

The Williamsburg, Manhattan, and Brooklyn Bridges link Manhattan and Brooklyn, and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge links Staten Island and Brooklyn. Only the Verrazano is a toll bridge. There is also a toll tunnel, the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, which links Brooklyn with the Battery (the southern tip of Manhattan).

By foot or bicycle

All the bridges between Brooklyn and Manhattan are now accessible to both pedestrians and cyclists. Prospect Park's main road is closed to cars on weekends and open to bicycles. There are numerous bicycle paths in the park. Along New York Bay to the southwest, there are many sections where one can bicycle. Ocean Parkway also has a bicycle path that runs from Coney Island at the southern end of Brooklyn to the neighborhood of Park Slope.

By ferry

The Water Taxi, at Fulton Ferry Landing, provides service from various points in Manhattan along the East River. The Water Taxi recently added service between southern Manhattan and Red Hook, intended for customers of the newly built Red Hook Ikea but available to everyone.

Get around

By subway

The subway is overall the best way to get around Brooklyn, although there are some spots, notably Red Hook and parts of East Brooklyn (including most of the tourist attractions), where subway coverage is poor and bus transportation is encouraged. Using Google Maps transit directions is an easy way to get accurate directions throughout Brooklyn (as well as the rest of NYC). However, do check the MTA website for service changes, as Google Maps tends to miss out on those. You can also use the subway map on MTA website or pick one up for free at a station agent's booth.

Brooklyn is well served by some 18 subway lines. The biggest hub is Atlantic Avenue - Barclays Center. There you may transfer to most subway lines in Brooklyn, 2345BDQN. In addition, the Fulton Street stop on the G line and Lafayette Avenue on the C line are close by, but require exiting and re-entering the subway system (only free if you have an unlimited ride Metrocard). Broadway Junction in Bed-Stuy and East New York is a minor hub between ACJLZ lines, which don't stop at Atlantic Avenue. Transferring there can be useful if you're going to Northern Brooklyn. Coney Island is a major hub for DFNQ lines—it's possible to do a "loop tour" of southern Brooklyn by changing there. For example, taking the D to Coney Island and then the F back to Downtown (both elevated lines) will provide great views of residential Brooklyn.

By bus

Brooklyn has an extensive bus grid that proves very useful in accessing places where subway doesn't stop. The downside is that the buses are much slower than the subway (though not as slow as in Manhattan) and figuring out their route may be confusing. It's highly suggested to have a bus map handy (available free from any subway station agent) or to use Google Maps route planner, which incorporates bus directions very accurately.

As in the rest of New York City, some buses are limited (LTD) service, which means they skip certain stops along the route. However, even non-limited buses won't stop if the "Stop Request" light isn't on and no one is waiting at the bus stop (this is very common). If you plan to get off, make sure you press the "Stop Request" tape/button before you approach your stop, or else the bus may skip it.

By commuter rail

There is the option of taking the Long Island Rail Road if your starting and ending points are in the following neighborhoods: Downtown Brooklyn, near Atlantic Avenue/Flatbush Avenue, Bedford-Stuyvesant, near Atlantic Avenue/Nostrand Avenue, and East New York, near Atlantic Avenue/Van Sinderen Avenue. It isn't terribly convenient, due to the limited stops and relatively infrequent service, but if you need to go to exactly the areas it stops in, it's faster than the subway.

See

See the Districts articles for more listings.

Landmarks

The Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch in Grand Army Plaza

Downtown is where you'll find the one of the most famous of all New York landmarks: the Brooklyn Bridge, which connects the borough to Lower Manhattan.

Grand Army Plaza marks the gateway to Prospect Park, and is home to the distinctive Soldiers and Sailors Arch.

Coney Island is a hotspot during the summer season. One could go for a day and enjoy the beach and beach vendors, then at night visit Luna Park and ride rides for a cheap price or watch a game at the Brooklyn Cyclones baseball field. Among the attractions is the Coney Island Cyclone, one of the world's oldest and still operating wooden roller coasters.

Museums and galleries

Prospect Park is home to the Brooklyn Museum, NYC's second largest art museum. Downtown is home to the New York Transit Museum. Bedford-Stuyvesant and Flatbush are home to the Brooklyn Children's Museum and the Jewish Children's Museum, which is the largest Jewish-themed children's museum in the United States. Williamsburg is home to the Hogar Collection.

Parks and gardens

Cherry blossoms in bloom at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Prospect Park is home to, of course, Prospect Park, designed by Olmsted and Vaux, who also designed Manhattan's Central Park but preferred their Brooklyn creation. Adjacent to the park is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, a 52-acre garden that is home to more than 10,000 taxa of plants.

Marine Park is a public park that is located in the Marine Park neighborhood and surrounds the westernmost inlet of Jamaica Bay. It has about 800 acres and has a bike path, handball court, shuffleboard court and playground. The park is mainly a fertile salt marsh that is supplied with freshwater from Gerritsen Creek.

Do

See the Districts articles for more listings.

Concerts

The Brooklyn Academy of Music and Bargemusic in Downtown are both excellent options for concerts. During the summer season, Prospect Park hosts the Celebrate Brooklyn concert campaign every weekend in the Bandshell area of the park. There are also many concerts at churches and synagogues (for example in Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope), as well as at colleges (such as Brooklyn College and New York Technical College). Check the listings in newspapers like the New York Press and Village Voice, which also have websites.

Sports

Coney Island is home to the Brooklyn Cyclones, the New York Mets' single-A minor league baseball team. Brooklyn is also now home to the Brooklyn Nets NBA team, who play in the Barclays Center in Downtown.

Sightseeing

There are a number of great places to walk for excellent views of Manhattan. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge—or if you prefer, the Manhattan or Williamsburg Bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge itself is beautiful, and the view is splendid. You can also walk along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade or under the Brooklyn Bridge into the DUMBO neighborhood to get amazing views of Manhattan overlooking the East River.

Buy

See the Districts articles for more listings.

Eat

See the Districts articles for more listings.

8th Avenue (or Third Chinatown), stretching from 40th Street to 62nd Street, holds its own against Canal Street and Flushing. Fancy gourmet restaurants to alleyway noodle shops, Malaysian to Vietnamese and fare from every Chinese province, the neighborhood has it all. Closest subway is the N-line's '8th Avenue' stop on 62nd and 8th.

Along 7th/5th Avenue in Park Slope, one can find any type of cuisine from Italian, to Mexican, to Japanese and even Fish and Chips. This part of Brooklyn has plenty of Zagat-reviewed restaurants that are sure to please any type of craving and tastebuds.

Drink

See the Districts articles for more listings.

Sleep

See the Districts articles for more listings.

Stay safe

Brooklyn may have a tough reputation, but it is largely quite safe these days. As a rule of thumb, use more caution as you get further east in the borough (especially beyond Utica Avenue), which is where the borough's two worst districts crime-wise are located, East New York and Brownsville. You will likely pass through East New York on your way to/from JFK Airport on either the subway or the LIRR. Both rail networks are quite safe as long as you remain within their respective systems (this includes transferring between subway lines at Broadway Junction, which has a transit police office if you're concerned).

Other neighborhoods that one should exercise caution, in rough order from most to least, Bushwick, Red Hook (away from the waterfront), Coney Island (away from the amusement parks/beachfront), and East Flatbush.

Go next

Routes through Brooklyn

Elizabeth Staten Island  W  E  Queens Bronx
Ends at  W  E  Queens Freeport
END  W  E  Queens Splits into Babylon, Far Rockaway, and West Hempstead branches


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, January 12, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.