You mean New York, right? Actually no. Brooklyn itself has a population of over 2.6million and if listed on its own would be the fourth biggest city in the whole of the United States. Whilst many visitors to New York will make the pilgrimage across the Brooklyn Bridge, one of the best free views you can get anywhere in the world, there’s so much more to the borough that it warrants a day of its own for visitors.
Originally settled by the Dutch and named after the village back in the Netherlands Breuckelen, the area grew with influxes of settlers from Europe, hence why names of locales such as Gravesend and Brighton exist today. The main turning point for the borough was In 1883 when the Brooklyn Bridge was completed, meaning transportation to Manhattan was no longer by water only, and Brooklyn’s ties to the City of New York were irrecoverably strengthened.
Start your day in Lower Manhattan, watching the sunrise over the Brooklyn Bridge from Pier 17 next to the under redeveloped South Seaport, then head over the bridge, taking in the views of the Manhattan skyline and the East River.
The opening of the Barclays Center on the junction of Flatbush Avenue and Atlantic has re-invigorated the area. Brooklyn had for too long been without its own sporting team, its own identity. The controversial relocated of the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team to Los Angeles in 1957 had left the city without a team until an equally controversial move saw the New Jersey Nets NBA team skip States and take up residence in the 18,000 all seater arena which opened in 2010, although fortunes haven’t favoured the Nets recently, so much so that you can pick up tickets from around $15 on Stubhub on a regular basis. The New York Islanders ice hockey team also play their home games in the arena.
On North 11th Street you will find the world renown Brooklyn Brewery, where daily tours take you behind the scenes and allow you to sample some of their famous and not so famous brews. Close by are the restaurants on Bedford Avenue, the heart of one of the trendiest areas of Brooklyn, Williamsburg. Highly recommended is Sweet Chick (164 Bedford Avenue) which serves up savoury fried chicken with sweet waffles. If steak’s your thing then there is a Peter Luger’s steakhouse around the corner on Driggs Avenue.
One of the famous restaurants in Brooklyn is Brennan & Carr at 3432 Nostrand Avenue, a favourite of Man versus Food’s Adam Richman where you can sample their legendary hot roast beef sandwiches, dipped in beef broth. It’s a bit of a trek, with the nearest subway being Avenue U on the Q Line but well worth it. Another incredibly popular restaurant is Emily on Fulton Street, where you can expect to wait for an hour plus in peak times for a slice of their glorious pizza.
One of the growing trends in happening areas such as Brooklyn is the emergence of bar hybrids – bars that are combined with other types of establishments. One of the best rated, which has ‘America’s greatest baked potato no less’ is the deli-bar of Mekelburg’s on Grand Avenue.
Brooklyn is of course also home to the world-famous Coney Island, the Southend-On-Sea meets Margate of New York with its famous pier, amusement park and of course once a year, Nathan’s World Hot Dog eating championships on the 4th July. The Cyclone rollercoaster, built in 1927 is still in operation and has been added to the National Historic Sites register. Don’t expect much fun and giggles in the winter where the Atlantic Ocean bashes the piers but head down here in the late spring or early Autumn when the summer crowds have dispersed for some glorious old-fashion fun.
For some peace and relaxation, then head for either the Botanic Gardens or Prospect Park, the Brooklyn equivalent of Central Park complete with its own zoo, which both come alive in the summer months.
Most visitors will head back to Manhattan when the sun starts to set, with hundreds of hotels to choose from. Brooklyn has its own share of good lodgings though including Aloft and the Indigo in Duffield Street or the NU in Smith Street – all three are located relatively close to Brooklyn Bridge and the shopping mall at Hoyt.
Brooklyn is like Hoxton or Shoreditch on growth hormones. There are so many parts of the city in constant flux that the best way to experience and enjoy your 24 hours is simply to choose a starting spot and just wander.