USA Today: Brooklyn Is Back


Yes, the hipness of Brooklyn has become so mainstream USA Today has a huge feature about it. To its credit, the story is not only about the hipster and gentrified areas of Brooklyn, but covers many aspects of the borough and its history since the 1940s.

The Brooklyn the Dodgers left was unsophisticated and unfashionable, the butt of the kind of jokes now directed at New Jersey. The Brooklyn after that, from roughly 1970 through 1995, was synonymous with crime, drugs and welfare. But the Brooklyn where Kari Browne has opened a business and plans to raise a family has been transformed into what she calls “a brand.”

The feature roughly sketches the history of Bushwick as a stand-in for the transformation of Brooklyn as a whole. The article interviews a typical Brooklynite, a type we almost never see portrayed in the media, a minority who grew up in a bad area and still lives there, and has a well-paying, professional job and a stable, middle-class life. It also covers artisanal pickles, rooftop farms, integrated playgrounds and the relentless pace of gentrification: “It’s stopped by nothing, not even the low-income housing projects that traditionally marked gentrification’s limits.” We have a quibble or two about some distortions caused by covering so much ground so quickly: Property values plunged in areas where minorities settled because of redlining, and it happened well before the fires and looting of the 1970s. Also, the article draws too sharp a distinction between gentrified areas and high-crime neighborhoods, where it sounds like little happens except shootings. What do you think? Is Brooklyn still cool? Click through to the article for a timeline of significant events in Brooklyn history.
Brooklyn Rebounds as the New Bohemia [USA Today]
Photo by greyvdm

49 Comment

  • I haven’t read the article yet, but…..

    GROAN!

    • It’s not really all that bad an article. The worst part about it, IMO, is that the writer telescopes about 50 years of history, prior to thr ’90s, into about ten.

      At least the article quotes people like Jerry Krase who actually KNOW something about Brooklyn.

  • I haven’t read the article yet, but…..

    GROAN!

  • Yep, a big Groan.
    The more articles that come out about Brooklyn being cool and hip the more I hate Brooklyn.

    For someone one who isn’t in her 20′s, fresh out of college, and doesn’t have an inch of coolness or doesn’t want to be hip and has lived in Brooklyn for over 30 years….but never in the ‘cool’ neighborhoods, I don’t understand this phenomenon that has become “Brooklyn”.

  • Yep, a big Groan.
    The more articles that come out about Brooklyn being cool and hip the more I hate Brooklyn.

    For someone one who isn’t in her 20′s, fresh out of college, and doesn’t have an inch of coolness or doesn’t want to be hip and has lived in Brooklyn for over 30 years….but never in the ‘cool’ neighborhoods, I don’t understand this phenomenon that has become “Brooklyn”.

  • Time for everyone to move to Philly!

  • NO. I don’t want you all down in Philly. You’ll ruin it. Stay up here. There are enough skinny jeans, beardo, pork pie hats down there already.

  • bob,
    These articles always highlight the same neighborhoods, the same type of people, the same type of stores, restaurants, galleries….it’s always about trends.
    Brooklyn is so vast. There are many neighborhoods besides the north pocket of Brooklyn. Sure they’re not hip or cool or setting trends, but the people living in there make up the majority of Brooklyn.

    • Point taken, but, to be honest, even when I first moved to Brooklyn in 1970 I had no interest in anything beyond brownstone Brooklyn and Victorian Flatbush. The rest of the borough is too similar to Queens, where I grew up and which i dislike.

  • ‘Reply’ button not working? or is it just me?

  • ‘Reply’ button not working? or is it just me?

  • “The Brooklyn the Dodgers left was unsophisticated and unfashionable, the butt of the kind of jokes now directed at New Jersey”

    Thank god we still have Bay Ridge.

  • “The Brooklyn the Dodgers left was unsophisticated and unfashionable, the butt of the kind of jokes now directed at New Jersey”

    Thank god we still have Bay Ridge.

  • LOL, Skillman. And it looks like she can’t reply!!!!!

  • So d*mn annoying that the reply button not working!

    “The Brooklyn the Dodgers left was unsophisticated and unfashionable, the butt of the kind of jokes now directed at New Jersey”

    “Thank god we still have Bay Ridge.”

    HEEEEEEEY! There are two “hip” people in Bay Ridge. They’re wearing skinny jeans. I’ve seen them with my own eyes. Bay Ridge just may be the next frontier that gets conquered.

  • “The article interviews a typical Brooklynite, a type we almost never see portrayed in the media…” Including Brownstoner, you mean?
    “We have a quibble or two about some distortions…Property values plunged in areas where minorities settled because of redlining…” Hey, Cate, Park Slope was redlined until the early 70s. But you haven’t lived in Brooklyn long enough to know that, have you? (And it doesn’t suit your POV anyway.)
    Brownstoner once again on the bleeding edge of ridiculing others for the kind of coverage that’s Brownstoner’s stock in trade.

  • “Brooklyn newcomers bring art, bars, new venues

    As do art students from Iowa and tourists from Helsinki, urban farmers and suburban shoppers, Swarthmore and Oberlin seniors, do-it-yourselfers and indie rockers, German graffiti writers, vegans, surfers, Manhattan writers, NBA stars.”

    Where is *rob*? I can’t pick up where he left off.

    This is exactly the bullsh!t I hate about these articles. Who the eff was living in Brooklyn before they moved in?????? And they didn’t matter??? They didn’t do anything? They didn’t contribute to their neighborhoods???

  • “Brooklyn newcomers bring art, bars, new venues

    As do art students from Iowa and tourists from Helsinki, urban farmers and suburban shoppers, Swarthmore and Oberlin seniors, do-it-yourselfers and indie rockers, German graffiti writers, vegans, surfers, Manhattan writers, NBA stars.”

    Where is *rob*? I can’t pick up where he left off.

    This is exactly the bullsh!t I hate about these articles. Who the eff was living in Brooklyn before they moved in?????? And they didn’t matter??? They didn’t do anything? They didn’t contribute to their neighborhoods???

  • expert_texpert, you are the epitome of “i was here before it was ‘cool’” hipster. why all the venom, just relax. we all get it. you buck the trend. you’re above cool and fashionable. big deal. stop getting so worked up about a fluff piece.

  • “why all the venom”

    HUH? venom?
    That’s not a snake in my pocket, I’m just happy to see you.

  • “why all the venom”

    HUH? venom?
    That’s not a snake in my pocket, I’m just happy to see you.

  • I can’t type for Romney soliciting me with pop-ups here.

    Anyhoo, all the Brooklyn-narcissists will be out in force here. Please tell us how all the OTHER places in Brooklyn, outside those which really have made Brooklyn get so much interest, are also equally deserving of special attention, brilliance, worship etc. Even though they are like a thousand other anodyne neigborhoods all over the USA. And congratulations if your only achievement in life is to have been born in Brooklyn.
    zzzzz

  • I can’t type for Romney soliciting me with pop-ups here.

    Anyhoo, all the Brooklyn-narcissists will be out in force here. Please tell us how all the OTHER places in Brooklyn, outside those which really have made Brooklyn get so much interest, are also equally deserving of special attention, brilliance, worship etc. Even though they are like a thousand other anodyne neigborhoods all over the USA. And congratulations if your only achievement in life is to have been born in Brooklyn.
    zzzzz

  • “Houseboats ply the once-fetid Gowanus Canal.”

    Still fetid. No houseboats “plying”, just a single one permanently docked, isn’t there?

  • “Houseboats ply the once-fetid Gowanus Canal.”

    Still fetid. No houseboats “plying”, just a single one permanently docked, isn’t there?

  • “you buck the trend. you’re above cool and fashionable”

    A big fat LOL! I am anything but trendy, cool and fashionable. You know, the typical frumpy Brooklyn woman.

    • yes, that’s my point. you’re ABOVE it all. we get it. but why get so worked up over a lifestyle piece in the USA Today or from Brownstoner, which is a lifestyle/real estate blog? this isn’t an op-ed or a political rant with wider implications. it’s fluff. why waste so much energy on it? sheesh.

  • “A big fat LOL! I am anything but trendy, cool and fashionable. You know, the typical frumpy Brooklyn woman.”

    I’ve always pictured you as a model in a JC Penney catalog circa 1989

  • expert_textpert…They are the people that didn’t believe that I came from a stable home in a lovely brownstone neighborhood and got a great traditional public school education. I suppose my parents and the parents of my peers were just caretakers until others realized that Brooklyn can be a great place to live.

  • uuuuggggghhhhh! the reply button!!!! Sorry for cutting and pasting.

    “Anyhoo, all the Brooklyn-narcissists will be out in force here. Please tell us how all the OTHER places in Brooklyn, outside those which really have made Brooklyn get so much interest, are also equally deserving of special attention, brilliance, worship etc. Even though they are like a thousand other anodyne neigborhoods all over the USA. And congratulations if your only achievement in life is to have been born in Brooklyn.”

    It seems that the narcissists are the ones that love these articles about Brooklyn areas that “get so much interest”; the areas “deserving of special attention, brilliance, worship etc”

  • “I’ve always pictured you as a model in a JC Penney catalog circa 1989 ”

    Another zinger by skillman!
    Who are you? I like you.

  • “I’ve always pictured you as a model in a JC Penney catalog circa 1989 ”

    Another zinger by skillman!
    Who are you? I like you.

  • ” but why get so worked up over a lifestyle piece in the USA Today or from Brownstoner…… why waste so much energy on it?”

    I’m not really worked up. I read these articles and forget about them an hour later and go on with my life.

  • This is why i love Brooklyn Heights. Real Brooklyn with an actual history — and almost no hipsters!

  • “This is why i love Brooklyn Heights. Real Brooklyn”

    ROTFLMMFAO!
    Don’t get me started……..

  • According to the slide show – Do the Right Thing takes place in Bensonhurst!

  • “This is why i love Brooklyn Heights. Real Brooklyn with an actual history — and almost no hipsters!”

    Yeah, just hip-replacements.

    BADA CHING

  • I agree with Bob, not the worst article written about Brooklyn, but by no means the best, either. That’s in part because Brooklyn is HUGE, and not just Williamsburg, Park Slope and now Bushwick. It would be nice to see a large article that takes the other 80% of Brooklyn, at at least mentions some neighborhood names and features.

    I think that Bushwick is great article fodder because of the dramatic tales of looting, fires, and well photographed urban destruction, which like a train wreck, everyone can look at in horror, and then point to some galleries and coffee shops forty years later, and say “See, they did that, and now we’ve risen like a Phoenix from the ashes,” Well, that’s all well and good, but it leaves out, as many have said, the history that led to the riots, the lives of people who were here then and are still here, and the social conditions that are still pretty rough for a majority of its residents.

    This particular article’s timeline was the worst part of the piece. It left out so much that was actually important, and made huge generalizations, and quite a few factual errors. They mention that Bklyn Heights was landmarked in 1965, and then say Park Slope was landmarked in 83. It wasn’t 83, it was 1973, big difference. And if it HAD been 1983, there were at least 6 or more other historic districts designated in Brooklyn in between that time, all in neighborhoods that were never even mentioned in the article, places as diverse as Cobble Hill, Prospect Park South, Stuyvesant Heights, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Boerum Hill and Prospect Lefferts Gardens. I know I left out a couple, too. Fact check, people. The article makes it sound like there has been no activity here between Brooklyn Hts and the “rediscovery” of Park Slope. NOT!

    And “Do the Right Thing” was not set in Fort Greene.

  • And, as someone in the paper’s comments mentioned, there is absolutely no mention of central Brooklyn, or the Caribbean neighborhoods. If they didn’t have the obligatory photos of black people looting stores, or the Crown Heights Riots, you wouldn’t know we were here, most of us holding down the fort and being good home owning citizens, like everyone else.

  • Nice article but I like the Brooklyn I moved into back in 1991. There seemed to be fewer people, cars, and strollers. It was a great escape from Manhattan attitudes with easy access to downtown and work.

  • is this the “Top” when USA Today etc joins in on the koolaid drinking? nothing but down trend soon for BK??

    Priced out of BK and now pimping LES – ie the cheaper Williamsburg

  • if peeps don’t like the pimping of BK by these articles, send them writers out to pimp LES so I can be priced out and find BK to be cheaper alternative again.

    BK is real nice – just too pricey now.

  • The woman with the sunglasses in the video is truly idiotic, but the gallery owner, who otherwise might be lumped in with the hipster gang, actually has a good perspective, wanting Bushwick to balance between its competing cultures and visions of itself. I see the same thing on a smaller scale in Clinton Hill and hope myself that gentrifying can mean a true mix of people.

  • A nice article, better than I expected from USA Today. I appreciate the honesty of the people in the video; they are gentrifiers and have no problem with that. By the way, Brooklyn Heights is not part of Brooklyn, it is an annex of Manhattan.

  • “The rest of the borough is too similar to Queens, where I grew up and which i dislike.”

    LOL.
    But “the rest of the borough”, makes up MOST of the borough.

  • I got this USA Today slipped under my door while staying in Cincinnati. Really weird to read about my “bohemia” home, spurred on by, um, Barclay’s Center? A strange lens. I don’t really see Babs and Bieber playing in that giant stadium as Boho. But then after flying home this morning I noted that Hungry Ghost, the new coffee shop on Flatbush just started offering draft artisanal root beer…