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22nd Dec 2012 11:38am | By Editor
THE VIBE: Arguably the area that kicked off Brooklyn’s reputation revamp, DUMBO – which stands for Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass – is the borough’s artsiest district.
This industrial relic blends shabby-looking factories and warehouses, once manufacturing complexes that churned out everything from coffee and spices to boots and shoes in the late 19th century, with world-class views of Manhattan’s waterfront. Real estate developer David Walentas is credited with inventing DUMBO after he turned the neighbourhood’s derelict buildings into artists’ studios and desirable loft apartments in the Eighties. However, even though DUMBO has long been considered ‘cool’, it has retained its gritty looks rather than gentrified completely.
DON’T MISS: You can’t get much further Off-Broadway than at St Ann’s Warehouse (stannswarehouse.org), which puts on avant-garde theatre in a cavernous edifice – January’s show, Opus No. 7, is a Russian production featuring puppets, dancing pianos and acrobats, for example.
The streets around here are great for discovering indie boutiques selling locally crafted clothes and ducking into artists’ lofts for a peek at their wares. A walk in Brooklyn Bridge Park is also essential (brooklynbridgepark.org). Though not quite the right spot for a quiet picnic, thanks to the subway trains rolling noisily over Manhattan Bridge nearby, the views of the Manhattan skyline across the river are unmatched.
Walk in the direction of the Empire Fulton Ferry Lawn and you’ll arrive at Jane’s Carousel (janescarousel.com), a historic carnival ride from the Twenties that the wife of DUMBO founder David Walentas, Jane, painstakingly restored over 27 years. It’s just £1.20 to pony up and relive your childhood.
THE VIBE: Even a Brooklynite might baulk at this pick, but the once-grotty neighbourhood of Crown Heights is fast becoming the borough’s best-kept secret. The more tense times of CH’s past – its large African-American community and smaller Jewish population clashed most severely in the Crown Heights Riot of 1991 – now seem long-forgotten and, while ever-more signs of gentrification pop up along Franklin Avenue in particular, only a handful of hip folks seem to have copped on.
DON’T MISS: A stroll down Franklin Avenue will unveil any number of treasures these days – where once you found discount stores, cheap salons and palm readers, now you can’t avoid spotting brand-new indie fashion boutiques, vintage stores, cute coffee shops and craft brew bars.
Don’t miss Dutch Boy Burger (dutchboyburger.com), which is a go-to spot for restaurateur Tom Byng, the man behind the UK’s Byron burger chain, when designing his own menus. Along with mean burgers and beers, you can really rack up the calories with their bourbon milkshake or pop in on ‘Duck Fat Sundays’, when everything on the menu is fried in – you guessed it – duck fat. If you’re keen on absorbing more than just grease, a short walk from Franklin is the brilliant Brooklyn Museum (brooklynmuseum.org), which showcases grassroots art and only asks for a suggested donation on entry, a far cry from the £15 entrance fee at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.