Red Hook circa 1875
I have had so many conversations, ad nauseum, that there is no life after Manhattan and that I did not move to New York City to live in Brooklyn or Queens. I have had many close friends in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens, and I have traveled there hundreds of times.
I have seen the merits of the boroughs, as readers of this website can attest, yet I have remained steadfast in my resolve that Manhattan is the ne plus ultra of the known universe and that the outer boroughs may be nice places to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.
This is a city that is still exciting and dynamic, particularly if you are of the generation that has grown up with Blackberries, a six figure income in your 20s, apartments that sell for over one million dollars or rent for for over $3000 per month, and rapid gentrification of neighborhoods.
However, Manhattan is losing its character and rapidly becoming the Singapore of the United States. Websites feature forgotten New York, vanishing New York, disappearing New York and lost New York. For the special and unique, you must dig deeper and look further afield.
Like Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Red Hook was settled by the Dutch in 1636 and named Roode Hoek ("roode" for the red clay soil of the area and "hoek" meaning point or corner). The neighborhood is really a peninsula, cut off from the rest of Brooklyn by the BQE and Gowanus Expressways. Public transportation is a vital part of New York City life. Red Hook has no subway service - this relative isolation is one of the key elements that has kept the neighborhood from developing as rapidly as other areas, such as DUMBO. Even as recently as the 1990s, the neighborhood was considered one of the worst neighborhoods in the USA and the "crack capital of America." On June 18, 2008, IKEA opened an enormous store in the neighborhood, amid huge controversy (replacing a 19th century dry dock) and concerns over an increase in congestion.
The older warehouses, waterfront vistas, and isolation are exactly what makes the neighborhood so desirable and have attracted artists and small businesses for some time. See my photos and story, Fire and Ice. If you have a chance, visit Roode Hoek...