We are sub letting a pleasant newly refurbished two bedroom apartment on Pacific St in a multi-ethnic, gentrified Brooklyn neighborhood called Boerum Hill. Bob and I enjoy exploring New York opportunities and other sites via the internet on our respectie laptops in the four-story apartment building that is WiFi equipped. We have three keys…one for the front door, one for an inner door and one for our apartment door. An Asian mailman drops the mail for the four building tenants onto the floor through a slot in the wall by the front door at the top of the stoop…each occupant sorting out his own mail. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal arrive on the front step each morning. The apartment directly across the street is condemned by the city…a big green rectangle with an X in it sprayed on the wall. Drivers seem to feel comfortable leaving their cars on the streets and there is rarely a vacant parking space—am glad that we left our autos in Oregon.
New York has recently reinstated a recycling program so there are multiple plastic barrels at the bottom of the stoop..one for garbage, one for paper and one for plastic and bottles… we were promptly and curtly corrected as to proper sorting by one of the tenants soon after our arrival. There is a contingent of garbage police and fines of $25.00 are given out if items are sorted into the wrong container.
Plastic bags of empty beer and pop bottles are often hung on the wrought iron fences that someone (a guy, freelancer, I think, who scuries the neighborhood carrying several stocked black plastic bags) will pick up and return to the store for the deposit. Once a month bigger items, like furniture, discarded TVs, microwaves etc., are left out for large item garbage pick-up. One day every other week cars are required to be parked on alternate sides of the street so the mobile street cleaners can sweep by unfettered. They usually just end up double parked on the other side of the street which makes for interesting traffic snarls in the mornings…cars honking as if it would make any difference.
There are two large grocery markets within about four blocks either way from the apartment. We wheel our groceries home in a two wheeled wire cart…just like the locals…and wheel our laundry to the nearest coin-operated facility a block and a half away. Down the steps, to the right and on the corner is the Boerum Hill Cleaners run by a gracious Korean family. Swing around the corner and up the block is the wide Atlantic Avenue that stretches all the way to the East River…which really isn’t a river but a narrow estuary of the Atlantic Ocean that surrounds the western end of Long Island.
On the next corner is a deli of multi-ethnic food items, fresh produce, and flowers run by Chinese family who speak Cantonese, English and Spanish. Turn right at the deli and the Islamic community fills the next several blocks…a school, apartments, halal food outlets selling California dates and multiple small cluttered storefront shops selling clothing, soap, perfumes, religious cds, books, and other unfamiliar items…in the middle of this mini-world…a U.S. Post Office. The call to prayer can be heard five times daily on the loudspeakers at a mosque nearby.
Across Atlantic Ave.is St. Cyrus of Turva Cathedral Belarussean Autocephalos Orthodox Church. Next to the church is a middle eastern restaurant owned by a Jordanian family with wondrously fluffy pita bread made fresh upon order. Pita bread, lamb kabobs, and a pint each of humus and babaghanouj provides a wonderful lunch with leftovers. Next door is a laid back French bistro (which we learned means “quickly” in Russian) that offers two entrees for the price of one on Wednesday evenings…and Bobby Dylan is heard on the stereo while sipping a glass of French wine. Next is a garden shop. Where do people garden? I wonder. Next is a New Orleans style restaurant with a live jazz trio featuring an older black gentleman vocalist whose style pulls me in, hook line and sinker. Next is a black Baptist pentacostal church.
Down Atlantic the opposite way and is an organic juice and food market. On either side of the market are two more churches…the Iglesias de Dios Pentacostal Church and the Templo Christiano de Brooklyn for the local Spanish-speaking Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. Further down Atlantic on either side of the street are multiple antique shops, retro clothing shops, and many more corner delis.
Tthe Cobble Hill neighborhood is two blocks distant. It is a gentrified neighborhood centered around Smith St — a bit too hip avenue full of French bistros, Mexican, Thai, Peruvian, Italian, sushi, Indian, New York sandwich delis, West Indian, Cuban, soul food, Jamaican, Chinese take-outs and various sorts of fusion restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, specialty meat markets… most offering free delivery… and upscale bars full of younger after-work clientele just off the subways from their Manhattan jobs.
Interspersed in between are beauty shops that offer a multitude of mysterious hair styles to their black clients. In a stuffed-to-the-ceiling Chinese variety store on one corner ANYTHING needed in an average household can be found. Schools pour out black and Spanish-speaking children in the afternoon and young nannies push their little charges in strollers. Young entrepreneural men and women have developed a business of walking dogs, four, five six at a time, all behaving perfectly on their leashes…the back pockets of the dog walkers full of plastic bags at the ready if needed for dog do-do. There is a $1000.00 fine for not picking up the stinky stuff…Paris could benefit from this law.
The next street over from Smith is Court Street…with even more upscale restaurants and specialty shops. Walking farther down Court St. is an almost exclusively Italian neighborhood with Italian restaurants, bakeries and delis, a couple beauty shops and an old fashioned movie theater with a really bad sound system. The opposite direction on court leads to downtown Brooklyn and its signiture streets of Fulton and Flatbush ……located there is Junior’s , locally famous for its cheesecake… (they will quickly tell you that President Clinton ate there).
And we haven’t even begun to explore Park Slope, Red Hook or DUMBO and the Brooklyn Heights. Josh lives in nearby Greenpoint, a facimile of Warsaw Poland….only Polish heard on the street and Polish magazines sold in the smoke shops…and great pierogi restaurants.
All of these neighborhoods are filled with writers and artists…an inmigration from the expensive artist lofts in “The Village” (you don’t say Greenwich Village) and the hip SOHO district which means South of Houston St. pronouned “Howston.” Bob still confounds Amy and Josh by insisting on calling it Hewston St. by it’s Texas city pronunciation! And, like San Francisco, the locals know you are a visitor unless you refer to Manhattan as “The City.” People from New Jersey are called the “Bridge & Tunnelers.” And there you have it.
Tags: Best Places, Brooklyn, Joshua, New York City, Restaurants, USA