Take the F train thirty minutes from midtown Manhattan and you end up in Park Slope. The place has had a major tummy tuck and face lift. Real estate prices have tripled and the area is on every top-earning millennial’s radar. Prospect Park has been cleaned up and is now your morning runners favourite spot and every dog-owners wet dream.
Meanwhile, walk three blocks down and you find yourself winding down seventh avenue. Sandwiched between baby strollers and politically engaged hipsters.
Look around and you’ll get a sense of what drives the neighbourhood’s hustle. Small local designer shops display patterned dresses hand-made in India, from biodegradable textile imported from Guatemala. Right beside it, you’ll find your local thrift shop, Beacon’s closet, bursting with last season’s designer collections straight from Manhattan’s fifth avenue.
Further down, you’ll stumble on an antique shop, followed by a rare book store, and a flamboyant sex shop right next door.
There’s something for everyone, from high society permaculture enthusiasts, to anti-establishment new age hippies.
Struggling artists and broke millennials know that Brooklyn is the best place to re-vamp your wardrobe with Woodstock-era vintage items or 70’s disco fad depending on the mood. You keep walking and bump straight into coffee culture extravaganza.
You pass by specialty coffee shops and get a whiff of freshly brewed exotic Ethiopian blends. Roasted to perfection and using nothing but the best distillation methods, Brooklynites take their coffee very seriously.
We’re getting closer to the edge of seventh avenue, something in the air hints of bagels and lox.
Your very own neighbourhood kosher deli, standing as a reminder of New York’s nostalgic ties to Jewish comfort food. They take pride in having opened their doors in the early twentieth century, and they have grandma’s secret recipe for achieving the perfect consistency for your everything-bagel.
However, changing demographics have left their footprint on these landmarks. They now sell halal meet-cuts alongside Manischewitz matzo meal, and the shop-owner may very well be a second generation Colombian.
Globalization has made Brooklyn its playground.
A few restaurants offer traditional Indian, or Jamaican menus while others cash in on the gastronomic love-child of a Japanese-Kenyan interracial marriage.
This neighbourhood thrives on the fascinating results of cultural mixing and only has a few norms that seem to apply to everyone.
Rule number one. Community first. Park Slope is remarkably well organized. This is likely because of a strong sense of collective action and responsibility that brings people from all backgrounds together. Unlike downtown Manhattan, neighbours actually say hello to one other on the street and regularly host block mixers. Kids draw chalk rainbows on the sidewalk, a few hot dogs are grilled, and the music cranks up.
Rule number two. Make a poster and join a march. Whether it be non-discrimination, gender equality, climate action, anti-GMO or free-the-nipple, everyone has a cause worth fighting for and a viral hashtag to go with it.
The town that never gets bored in the city that never sleeps. For all of those dreaming of the New York State of mind, jump on that F train and get a taste of that Brooklyn feel.