07/16/15 11:52am
The new Smorgasburg outpost at Coney Island means there is now food beyond Nathan's and cheese fries to choose from, plus two outdoor bars.  Photo: © 2015 Regina Mogilevskaya

The new Smorgasburg outpost at Coney Island means there is now food beyond Nathan’s and cheese fries to choose from, plus two outdoor bars. Photo: © 2015 Regina Mogilevskaya

The Mermaid Parade has come and gone, and July 4, with its flourish of fireworks and hot dog gluttony has passed. So does that mean you should cross Coney Island off your summer bucket list? Not in the least–a new Smorgasburg outpost, an exhibit of two dozen street artists and other signs of renewal are all reasons to take the train to the Stillwell Ave. stop before the warm weather disappears.

Perhaps more than any other Brooklyn neighborhood, from the time of its discovery to its current state, Coney Island has donned an almost impossible number of faces. Its time as a remote, serene island, inhabited first by the Lenape Indians and then the Dutch in the early 17th century, was short-lived, as its unique proximity to both the city and the ocean predestined the area to become the “People’s Playground.”

Its golden age, when Luna Park, Dreamland, and Steeplechase Park bestowed a futuristic, dream-like quality upon the place, like an illustrious Epcot Center of the early 1900’s, was equally brief. (For a primer on Coney Island’s wonder years, check out this detailed history.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


(more…)

Brooklyn Based delivers free daily emails about the borough's best food, events, attractions and innovators. Get Brooklyn Based in your inbox--sign up here.

03/20/15 9:00am
Neighborhood Native Bay Ridge

Sally Ricottone enjoys a slice at Nino’s Pizza, her go to pizzeria in Bay Ridge. Photo: Gabrielle Sierra

Though we’re fans (and publishers) of neighborhood guides and lists of where to eat right now, we also recognize that they tend to follow trends and overlook neighborhood gems. To that end, we’ve started a new series called Neighborhood Expert in which we chat with a longtime local for the scoop on their favorite spots and their take on how the area has changed.

Name: Sally Ricottone

Neighborhood: Bay Ridge

How long have you lived in Bay Ridge?
I actually grew up close by in Bensonhurst, but we always came to Bay Ridge. It was a fun place to go to when we were younger, especially the bars because we would go dancing—all the clubs had dancing. Not like today where people just stand around or sit around just drinking. Anyway, I officially moved to Bay Ridge in 1984 when I got married. We moved to 72nd Street and 3rd Ave., and then after a while, we had the chance to buy something in the neighborhood, a brownstone on Senator Street, which is now a landmarked block. We moved there in 1992. And then in 1995 we moved to New Jersey, but I kept my practice in Bay Ridge (editor’s note: Sally is a therapist.) and spend a few days each week here. So I partied in Bay Ridge, married and had children in Bay Ridge, raised my family in Bay Ridge, and have now been here 20 years working. Those are all very different relationships with the neighborhood.

What has your time in the area been like?
When my husband and I moved here, I was able to get an apartment, a brownstone, for $525 a month and that was the whole second floor. There was this little room out in the hallway and that is where I started my practice. So I was able to start my married life and my professional life right there on 72nd street. I lived right around the corner from T.J. Bentley’s—it was like a supper club. They had Irish music and all the older people would go for that; they had a dance floor in the middle. Now it’s a Spanish place I think. When we moved to Senator Street, the scene over there was different. The gentrification was already sort of starting up higher in the area, and it was our belief that from 75th Street to Senator Street it was going to continue and the value of the house would go up and the area would improve, but then the housing bust took place and everything stopped in Bay Ridge. You started getting the Dollar Stores; all those things we thought were going to happen didn’t quite happen in that part of the neighborhood. (more…)

03/13/15 9:00am
 stretch of houses down Catalpa Avenue, with St. Matthias Roman Catholic church off in the distance. Photo: Regina Mogilevskaya

A stretch of houses down Catalpa Avenue, with St. Matthias Roman Catholic church off in the distance. Photo: Regina Mogilevskaya

I’d like to preface this piece by assuring you that that this neighborhood guide is not a sly ploy to get anyone to consider leaving Kings County in favor of Queens. This is not the makings of a movement, or an attempt to reposition Ridgewood as the next big thing in real estate. On the contrary,  it is merely a gentle nudge, a reminder that just because you may call Greenpoint or Bed-Stuy home, that doesn’t mean you can’t meander north of Myrtle Avenue. Getting to know a new neighborhood is a luxury that’s afforded to pretty much anyone with a MetroCard, so why not take advantage? Ridgewood, Queens, with its effortlessly tranquil streets and homegrown sensibilities, is an excellent place to begin.

Ridgewood has long been debated territory, with is borders being disputed as far back as the 18th or 19th century. It lies precariously between the borders of Brooklyn and Queens, and often fights for zip code status with nearby Bushwick. Middle Village and Glendale surround Ridgewood to the east and south, and originally, it was the Dutch that settled here, making a living by farming before waves of urbanization began overrunning the area in the early 20th century. Following World War I, the rise of knitting factories and breweries (the remains of which can still be seen strewn across Ridgewood’s west side) attracted a flood of Eastern European immigrants, mostly Germans and Slovenians. Today, the community is an amalgamation of long-time, old-school Eastern European residents, a Hispanic community and younger artist types who are starting to fall under Ridgewood’s spell. Craig Hubert and Chloe Wyma, both journalists in their 20s, have lived in Ridgewood for five and three years, respectively.

“I love how relatively affordable it is (though unfortunately it’s becoming less so), and its sleepy, family-oriented vibe” says Wyma, with Hubert sharing similar sentiments. He notes that the neighborhood’s peacefulness is undoubtedly part of its allure, and that “it even gets eerily quiet at night,” making Ridgewood seem far removed from the city that never sleeps.

(more…)

02/13/15 1:29pm
IMG_9769

Marie Brown shows off her favorite Carroll Gardens goodies. She was born in the neighborhood and moved back in 2005 after a 25-year hiatus. Photo: Gabriele Sierra

Though we’re fans (and publishers) of neighborhood guides and lists of where to eat right now, we also recognize that they tend to follow trends and overlook neighborhood gems. To that end, we’ve started a new series called Neighborhood Expert in which we chat with a longtime local for the scoop on their favorite spots and their take on how the area has changed. 

Name: Marie Brown

Neighborhood: Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill

How long have you lived here? Well I was born in this neighborhood 1951 in Long Island hospital. I left the year I got married which was in 1980; it was too expensive already. When the kids were in college I had a conversation with my husband and said, “Would it ever be possible to come back downtown?” and he said, “Yeah, I think we can do this.” So we started on my quest to find a house in this area. We came back in 2005, so it has been another ten years.

What was it like growing up in Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens? When I grew up here we lived in what is now Cobble Hill, but it was not called Cobble Hill or Carroll Gardens–the divisions were by parishes. There was Sacred Heart parish, which is now Carroll Gardens, and I was in Saint Paul’s parish, which is now Cobble Hill. Each area had a different demographic because Saint Paul’s parish was mostly Puerto Rican and Sacred Heart was all Italian. To be honest the Sacred Heart people had a little attitude about Saint Paul’s people–they felt they were purer or more secluded since there were only two kinds of Italian people in this area. (more…)

08/01/14 12:10pm

mayalin

If you don’t have access to a car, there are regular bus and train routes that can get you to Storm King quickly and cheaply.

 There’s no lack of ink out there about Storm King Art Center, the extraordinary 500-acre outdoor sculpture park located about an hour-and-a-half’s drive north of Brooklyn in the lower Hudson Valley. But every time I go and come back raving about it to people, they always seem to have the same response: they’ve never been, even though they’ve always wanted to check it out. So, after visiting Storm King this past Saturday with my sister and my dad and being reminded how great it is, I figured one more write-up won’t kill anyone, particularly if it helps you realize how easy it is to make this day trip. (more…)

06/20/14 10:08am

 

The Imperial Apartments on Bedford Avenue were built in 1892. Photo: Jim Henderson

The Imperial Apartments on Bedford Avenue were built in 1892. Photo: Jim Henderson

There’s no doubt that Crown Heights is one of Brooklyn’s most rapidly changing neighborhoods. It seems like every week we hear about a new restaurant, bar or shop that’s opening in the area, and the variety of row houses and expansive pre-war apartment buildings, as well as convenient access to several train lines, are drawing new residents in droves. 

Once called Crow Hill, Crown Heights is bordered by Bed-Stuy to the north, where Atlantic Avenue forms the boundary between the two neighborhoods. To the south, Empire Boulevard separates the neighborhood from Prospect-Lefferts Gardens and East Flatbush. Prospect Park and Washington Avenue (though some argue that Franklin Avenue is actually the boundary) form the western border, shared with Prospect Heights. And to the east, of East New York and Ralph Avenues lies Brownsville.

While Eastern Parkway is the main transit hub for cars and for the 2, 3, 4 and 5 train lines, Franklin Avenue is the neighborhood’s up-and-coming main drag, home to an ever-expanding selection of shops and restaurants, and Nostrand is the busiest commercial strip, lined with long-time stores and services.  (more…)

05/09/14 8:00am

A view of the water and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge from the Shore Road walking/bicycle path near the 79th Street overpass.

A view of the water and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge from the Shore Road walking/bicycle path near the 79th Street pedestrian overpass. Photo: David Chiu

Technically speaking, Bay Ridge, where I’ve lived for most of my life, is not a suburb like you find on Long Island or New Jersey. It isn’t in the middle of nowhere, you don’t need a car to get around, and there is no mall. But if you find yourself in the more cloistered and tranquil parts of the neighborhood, particularly the beautiful older homes near the water on Shore Road, you can’t help but feel like you’re worlds away from Manhattan. Despite the condo-fication of New York, Bay Ridge has maintained a solid working and middle-class vibe.

“I’d played with the idea of moving out of Bay Ridge to go to Manhattan or something like that,” says Allison Robicelli, the co-owner of the renowned cupcake bakery Robicelli’s and a longtime resident of the neighborhood, “but as I’ve watched Brooklyn change, Bay Ridge became more and more appealing. It still feels authentic, and there’s no inevitable feeling of doom that eventually your rent will triple and all the businesses you love will disappear. We’re a great mix of the old New York that’s quickly disappearing, and the new. I can’t think of another place in Brooklyn I’d rather live.”

(more…)

Brooklyn Based delivers free daily emails about the borough's best food, events, attractions and innovators. Get Brooklyn Based in your inbox--sign up here.

04/22/14 9:54am

Fewer crowds at Lakeside's new roller rink makes it a lot easier to lace up your skates. Photo: Kate Hooker

Fewer crowds at Lakeside’s new roller rink makes it a lot easier to lace up your skates. Photo: Kate Hooker

My boyfriend has a Spotify playlist entitled Roller-Rama that is all hot jams he remembers from the roller skating rink in the town he grew up in: “Candy Girl,” “Supersonic,” “Somebody’s Watching Me.” For my part, I don’t think I can ever hear “Walk of Life” by Dire Straits without being instantly transported back to a middle school birthday party at Happy Wheels. That was probably the last period of my life when roller skating was a semi-regular occurrence for me, so I was relieved to discover when I arrived at the newly resurfaced LeFrak Center in Prospect Park this past weekend that the tunes haven’t changed much in the last two decades. Or maybe the rink was targeting the 10am Easter Sunday crowd that I joined, parents about my age whose young children were hanging on to them and the walls for dear life as they experienced having their tiny feet strapped to wheels for what was probably the first time.

Whatever the reason, hearing Lenny Kravitz’s “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over” blaring through the Parkside Avenue corner of Prospect Park as I paid my $14.53 for admission and skate rental made me feel glad that I’d made time during a jam-packed holiday weekend to lace up some roller skates and take a few laps. (more…)

Brooklyn Based delivers free daily emails about the borough's best food, events, attractions and innovators. Get Brooklyn Based in your inbox--sign up here.

04/10/14 4:00pm
On the trail in Peekskill. Photo: Gabrielle Sierra

You can hit the trail in Peekskill after just an hour on the train. Photo: Gabrielle Sierra

Every once in a while you’ve got to spirit yourself out of the city to reset your brain. Here are three trips, no car necessary, that will have you breathing clean country air at lunchtime, and then back in Brooklyn in time for bed–unless of course you decide to really treat yourself and stay the night.

Hiking in Peekskill

New York City’s parks are wonderful, but sometimes you need a more challenging hike than you can find in Prospect Park’s Ravine. Blue Mountain Reservation in Peekskill, just an hour away on the train, has hiking and cycling trails, beautiful views, and best of all, a brewery nearby to get a bite and a pint before heading home.

To get there, hop a Metro North train at Grand Central to Peekskill. The ride ranges from $11.75-$22.00 each way depending on the day and time–on the weekend a round-trip ticket will run you $23.50 and trains leave once an hour starting at 6:43am.

Once you arrive in Peekskill, grab a cab (if there’s not one at the station, call Royal House Taxi, 914-293-0807) or take a half-hour walk through town–about a mile and a half–to Blue Mountain Reservation at 45 Welcher Avenue. At just over 1,500 acres, the park features trails for hiking, nature spotting and mountain biking. Most of the paths range from easy to moderate and following the middle of the road blue trails is usually best as they’re challenging but not grueling. If you’re looking for something steeper, the path up the side of Blue Mountain is perfect. Entry is free, just be sure to either download or grab a hard copy of a trail map. If you drive, parking is $10.  There are also extensive mountain biking trails, and bikes are allowed on Metro North with a bike permit, which is just $5.

Try a beer flight at the Peekskill Brewery. Photo: Gabrielle Sierra

Try a beer flight at the Peekskill Brewery. Photo: Gabrielle Sierra

Once you’ve had your fill of nature, make your way back through town to the Peekskill Brewery (47-53 S Water Street), conveniently located right across from the train station. The brewery offers their own beers as well as selections from other nearby brewers, and flights are available. If beer isn’t your thing, their wine list has a New York focus, there are close to a dozen ciders available, many made locally, and they specialize in quirky Bloody Marys. The brewery also has a restaurant with views of the river, and a limited (but super tasty) menu is available in the taproom. Relax! The last train doesn’t leave until 11:35pm (though the 10:35pm is direct and will get you back faster).–G.S.

There is more to Beacon than the Dia museum. Street art, galleries and shops dot the town's Main Street. Photo: Michael Hyman via Flickr.

There is more to Beacon than the Dia museum. Street art, galleries and shops dot the town’s Main Street. Photo: Michael Hyman via Flickr.

Art and Fleas in Cold Spring and Beacon

Beacon is synonymous with the Dia: Beacon art center, and for anyone who appreciates conceptual art, it’s well worth the pilgrimage to see John Chamberlain’s junkyard carcasses, and Sol leWitt’s very orderly wall drawings. If you suspect you will be unimpressed with the minimalists and are annoyed by phrases like “negative sculpture,” skip the museum. Visit Beacon just for the gorgeous train ride and a day spent popping into eclectic shops and galleries along the town’s very long Main Street. And if you’ve got a car, you can also hit two flea/artisan markets. (more…)

Brooklyn Based delivers free daily emails about the borough's best food, events, attractions and innovators. Get Brooklyn Based in your inbox--sign up here.

03/14/14 8:52am

Brownstone blocks are only one side of Bed-Stuy. Photo: Gabrielle Sierra

Brownstone blocks are only one side of Bed-Stuy. Photo: Gabrielle Sierra

Bedford-Stuyvesant is an incredibly diverse neighborhood–row houses and brownstones line one block while factories define the next. Trinidadian fast food joints operate next to new American restaurants decorated in Edison bulb chic. Dive bars serve icy bottles down the street from craft beer joints slinging frosty pints.

Neighborhood residents are similarly diverse–Bed-Stuy has long been an African- and Caribbean-American enclave, and in recent years it’s become representative of Brooklyn-style gentrification, and all the rising rents, new bars, restaurants and other businesses that come along with that. But to claim that Bed-Stuy is just now beginning to change misses the big picture, says Tremaine Wright.

“People tend to ignore the influx of commerce that happened 15 to 20 years ago which sets the stage for what is happening now,” explains Wright, a life-long resident and owner of Common Grounds, a popular neighborhood coffee shop, as well as the chair of Community Board 3. “We really saw an increase of businesses over the past 20 years. Since then we have had a very stable owner base and a base of working-class families that live in the area. Things are cyclical, and now, once again, we are now seeing even more businesses coming in.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.




The official geographic boundaries run from Flushing Avenue to the north, Broadway to the east, Saratoga and Atlantic avenues to the south and Classon Avenue to the west. Bedford-Stuyvesant was officially created in 1930, when the Village of Bedford and the neighborhood of Stuyvesant Heights were combined. “There are still people here who will argue with you about that hyphen in ‘Bedford-Stuyvesant’ if you don’t use it,” says Michael Lambert, executive director of the Bed-Stuy Gateway BID. “They remember when the hyphen first came!”

As a relatively new resident–I’ve been in the neighborhood for about a year–I reached out to some locals to explore the best spots in Bed-Stuy.

(more…)

Brooklyn Based delivers free daily emails about the borough's best food, events, attractions and innovators. Get Brooklyn Based in your inbox--sign up here.