Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The amazingness of Brooklyn

I recently read an article in a Travel magazine about Brooklyn. It warmed my heart, and I wanted to share a few excerpts.

In Manhattan, you become a New Yorker within four hours of picking up your keys. No matter where you're from, the city takes you in. Across the river, membership comes harder. Through movies and postcards and songs, Manhattan has always belonged to the world. Brooklyn always belonged to Brooklynites. Well, surprise. In case you haven't heard, Brooklyn has become a byword for cool, the epitomic local-boy-makes-good-- and suddenly, Brooklyn belongs to everyone..... But I wonder if curious visitors aren't coming with misplaced expectations. If someone told you Brooklyn is "the next Manhattan," they got it dead wrong. Brooklyn is NOTHING like Manhattan. Brooklyn looks and feels and is like no place else.

The first thing you need to know about Brooklyn is that it is huge: New York's most populous borrough, home to nearly a third of its citizens. An independent Brooklyn would be the nation's fourth-largest city. Brooklyn is a vast metropolis blessed and cursed to lie 500 yards from Manhattan.
(WOW, isn't that unreal?? I had no idea!)
The second thing you need to know about Brooklyn is that it is small. Big in breadth and attitude, but intimate in the height of its buildings, the modesty of its storefronts, the compactness of its communities. Defined by the stoop, the bodega, the bocce or basketball court, Brooklyn has an enduring neighborhood-ness. Come to my block next month and they'll be decking the stoops for Christmas; come in June, and the kids next door will be manning a lemonade stand.
Brooklyn has a singular ecology, sustaining a great variety of quirky or exotic things (and people) that have little or no place in Manhattan, nor in many other American cities. Things like bocce courts and lemonade stands and pick-your-own herb planters. Stickball games and ice cream trucks. Taquerias with screened porches, bistros with dogwood-shrouded patios, Russian beer gardens, Georgian supper clubs. The city's only Souther African restaurants, its only aquarium, its only carnival-style freak show. Rock concerts staged in an empty swimming pool, rock concerts staged in a Polish community center where old ladies sell stoned kids pierogi. An industrial canal that now attracts intrepid kayakers. And, throughout the borough, an incredible range of architecture, from Park Slope's Italianate brownstones to the 19t-century carriage houses of Clinton Hill.

I love Brooklyn.

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