As a born-and-raised Brooklynite, I am tired of seeing travel guides overrating certain parts of my borough and devaluing other parts. Yes, Brooklyn is hip and cool but there is so much more to this borough than its hipster reputation. So if you value being an informed traveler/citizen, keep reading. Here is your basic Brooklyn primer.
1. Brooklyn used to be its own city.
Up until 1898, Brooklyn was growing and thriving as its own city. But politicians and business people on both sides of the East River argued that it would mutually beneficial for the separate counties to come together as one and join forces instead of constantly competing for resources. Honestly, Brooklynites were split about this idea of consolidation and it was only narrowly approved by 300 votes. For years afterward, many Brooklynites called this merger “the great mistake of 1898”. If Brooklyn was its own city today, it would easily dwarf Manhattan in both land mass and population (Brooklyn has 2.6 million residents compared to Manhattan’s 1.3 million), and it would be the US’ fourth largest city.
2. Brooklyn’s official motto is ‘Een Draght Mackt Maght’, which translates from Old Dutch to “In unity there is strength.”
This is fitting not only because it incorporates the borough’s Dutch colonial roots, but also because it acknowledges how different ethnic groups coexist side by side peacefully (for the most part). Name the ethnicity and you’ll probably find an enclave within the borough.
3. There are at least 66 neighborhoods within Brooklyn.
Yep, you’ve read that right. That means that once you finish seeing Williamsburg, DUMBO, and Brooklyn Heights, you still have at least 63 more neighborhoods to go. I hope you’ve allotted yourself more than one day.
4. Brooklyn is nicknamed “the borough of churches.”
Brooklyn first earned that nickname because it was originally seen as a more pious place to live compared to debaucherous, money-loving Manhattan. Even though it isn’t as saintly today, the nickname still holds up. Between storefront churches and full-blown cathedrals, you’ll quickly lose count of how many places of worship you’ll walk pass in this borough.
5. Brooklyn has 30 miles of waterfront.
You’d be remiss not to take advantage of the beaches and the waterfront parks that dot the coastline. If you search hard enough, you can spot the Statue of Liberty from every waterfront park along Brooklyn’s western coast.
6. The creators of Central Park considered Brooklyn’s Prospect Park to be their masterpiece.
Prospect Park isn’t as large or as famous as its Manhattan counterpart but it’s just as charming, perhaps even more-so. It has all of Central Park’s best features with slightly more woods and a lot less tourists.
7. Brooklyn is full of Revolutionary War history.
Brooklyn was the site of the 1776 Battle of Brooklyn/Long Island, where the British whooped the Continental Army from Gravesend all the way up to Brooklyn Heights. A few places around Brooklyn still commemorate the battle and the war, such as the Old Stone House in Park Slope, the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene, and Green-Wood Cemetery.
8. The worst candies were invented in Brooklyn.
Unfortunately, Brooklyn is home to the flavor-abominations known as twizzlers and tootsie rolls. But the borough is also home to several decent innovations, such as the deep-fried Twinkie, Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, Sweet’N Low, teddy bears, and the first roller coaster.
9. Brooklyn isn’t full of brownstones.
When you think of Brooklyn, you often think of rows and rows of brownstones on shady tree-lined streets. It’s a pleasant image, but it’s not entirely true. While you will find brownstones in neighborhoods like Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, and Prospect Heights, don’t count out finding interesting architecture throughout the rest of the borough. You’ll also find beautiful Victorian homes in Ditmas Park and McMansions in Mill Basin and, of course, everything in between.
Hopefully, these tidbits of information have piqued your interest in Brooklyn and will inspire you to venture further than the borough’s northwest corner the next time you visit Brooklyn. New Yorkers, what else would you share about Brooklyn? Let us know in the comment section!