Brooklyn–An “Empire State of Mind”

March 5th, 2013

Before spending time in Brooklyn, I must admit that my impression of it was consistent with what most Midwesterners might think (i.e., that it was tough, not so safe, and pretty dirty).  I certainly believed that Manhattan is superior to Brooklyn and all the other Burroughs for that matter.  My attitude was a lot like Miranda in Sex and the City when she’s forced to begrudgingly acquiesce to a move to Brooklyn even though she’s definitely a Manhattan girl. To her, Brooklyn was clearly the wrong side of the tracks or river to be more precise.

Since being here, I’ve learned that both my initial impression and Miranda’s attitude are clearly wrong.  Brooklyn is really very special and diverse.

There are several areas where Brooklyn matches or even beats Manhattan.  For example, the Brooklyn Bridge beats the Manhattan Bridge hands down. The Brooklyn Bridge is an urban Grand Canyon.  It is beautiful and majestic with a breathtaking view that people enjoy as they walk and bike across it.  And when they bike it, they mean business.  I accidently meandered into the bike lane once, not realizing that I was in a No Walker zone, only to look up and see a very angry dude blowing a whistle at me to clear the lane and fast!

The view from Brooklyn is also spectacular.  From Brooklyn, you can see the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, and the rest of the amazing Manhattan skyline.  Sorry, the view of the Watchtower from the Manhattan side just doesn’t cut it.

Brooklyn also has Manhattan beat when it comes to sports venues.  Sorry, but while Madison Square Garden has lots of great history, it is now a total dump.  It’s old, smelly, and dirty.  By contrast, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn is a big beautiful work of art.  The building’s cool sleek urban design is amazing.  I was fortunate enough to see a Jay Z concert with Beyonce.  Jay Z is a native of Brooklyn and one of the owners, so it was emotional for me to see him become emotional about his Brooklyn. The show was absolutely amazing in part thanks to the terrific acoustics and the state of the art visuals.

I also saw Mumford and Sons, and it was equally fantastic in that venue.  (My apologies to Monica who I ridiculed a few days earlier by informing her that there was no way on earth I’d waste my time listening to folk music.)

While you can’t beat Manhattan restaurants, Brooklyn has some great places as well.  Juniors serves world renowned cheesecake.  It has a homey and urban feel.   People from outside of town might think of it as more traditional Brooklyn—gritty, loud, and interesting.  The area around Juniors has a slightly dangerous feel, and these folks don’t play.  The restaurants in this area of Brooklyn serve hefty portions.  Nobody goes hungry here.

Brooklyn is also home to the gorgeous and historic Brooklyn Opera House and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  There are so many great things about Brooklyn; you need a book not a blog to describe them all.

Next time you visit New York City, take a side trip to Brooklyn.  Skip it, you say?


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