Junios Cheesecake Brooklyn

Brooklyn has something of a reputation as an incubator for creative talent and eclectic eats. Sure, we’re all happy when an iconic Manhattan biz like Katz’s Deli or Russ & Daughters decides to cross the East River, but an even bigger trend at the moment is the national expansion of much-loved Brooklyn brands.

Junior’s Cheesecake — a true borough mainstay — has had outposts in Times Square and Grand Central for years. But the famous bakery and its mouth-watering desserts are making a big play for the national spotlight. (more…)

Lena Dunhams Girls Sixth Season

Images via HBO

We can’t even. The hit HBO series Girls will end after its sixth season in 2017, the network and creator Lena Dunham announced Wednesday. “It feels like the right time,” she said in a statement.

From its first episode in 2012, the show brought a fictionalized slice of Brooklyn to living rooms across the country, reshaping the borough’s public image in the minds of average Americans. There’s no doubt that Girls contributed to the global rise of Brooklyn the Brand, even as it promoted the borough as a haven for entitled, lost millennials. (more…)

Gift Guide

Holiday shopping season is in full swing and — oh? You haven’t started shopping yet? Don’t worry — Brownstoner’s staff picked out a boatload of gift ideas to celebrate Brooklyn’s makers, bakers, authors and museums. And if buying physical stuff isn’t in your plans, there are plenty of other ways to give — via your time and donations — in Brooklyn, too. (more…)

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Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Heights and Brooklyn Bridge Park

As everyone in Brooklyn knows, “Brooklyn” has become far more than just a borough — it’s beer, coffee, jeans, bikes, markets, culture and so much more. As we’ve been hearing for several years now, Brooklyn is a brand.

Which is why Brownstoner is listing every Brooklyn-branded thing on earth (plus a few other iconic bits of Brooklyn culture). We’ve got the list going below. But we need your help to make it truly comprehensive.

What obscure or classic Brooklyn brands do we need to add? Leave a comment, email tips@brownstoner.com, or tweet to @brownstoner with your suggestions and we’ll add them here. (more…)

BRIC TV Brooklyn Television

BRIC TV, the Brooklyn-centric cable and digital network, kicked off a new season of shows last night with a lively launch party at its home base in Fort Greene’s BRIC House.

One of the borough’s leading community networks, BRIC TV was described by Executive Producer Aziz Isham as “Vice meets PBS.”

Brownstoner had the opportunity to get a sneak peek of the lineup which includes the debut of several freshly minted original programs and new seasons of popular shows like BK Live and Straight Up. There’s one new show that may be particularly interesting to Brownstoner readers — On the Grid, hosted by Zephyr Teachout.

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Brooklyn Independent Media, the 24/7 TV channel created at the BRIC House in Fort Greene, just launched First Brooklyn, Then The World — a new show all about Brooklyn’s trajectory from local borough to global brand.

“BRIC, which is the parent organization behind Brooklyn Independent Media, has been an organization at the forefront of Brooklyn trends for a long time now,” First Brooklyn producer Corinne Colgan told Brownstoner. “We wanted to create a show that highlights just how much culture — from food to fashion to design and beyond — began right here in our backyard.”

The debut episode follows host Aaron Watkins — a frequent presenter on BK Live— as he traverses Fulton Mall, talks with fashion icon April Walker at Cammareri Cafe, learns about the story behind Brooklyn Industries from merchandiser Catie Ally, interviews fashionable folks on the street, and hunts for style finds at Unique Thrift with Dave Morley. (more…)

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Longtime Brooklynite and Brownstoner reader Heather Murray recently moved from Clinton Hill to Washington, D.C., because of a job change. But the Brooklyn she misses was already history before she left. She writes:

I’ve always loved places with history — and Brooklyn used to be such a place. Old lived easily alongside the new. People had rent control and rent stabilization, which meant –- pretty much –- that if you stayed in one place for long enough, you could build a nice life there.

But Brooklyn has changed. I’m stating the obvious, but that’s what I do.

Brooklyn used to be a place where you could step back in time. Parts of the city seemed to be completely unchanged from the ’20s, the ’30s, the ’40s, the ’50s and so on. There was Italian Williamsburg, and Polish Greenpoint, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens (which I only remember being referred to as “Flatbush” back then) and the Dyno-mite Lounge. Pork stores and Wash-O-Matics. Century-old bakeries on residential streets, and the fresh bread smell in the morning.

What I find most depressing about the pace of Brooklyn’s change is the erosion of the communities that Chris Arnade celebrates in his article, “Some Things I Will Miss About Brooklyn.” Working class people in Brooklyn are now under siege. If they’re lucky, they might get a buyout, or a lottery slot for affordable housing. If they’re not, they’re displaced. I knew a family at our old school in Clinton Hill who commuted from Staten Island. STATEN ISLAND — so that their kids could stay with their friends and be near extended family for childcare. In Clinton Hill and elsewhere in Brooklyn, churches are closing. And the people — the people that spun the fabric of these amazing communities? Those people are leaving.

They leave for East New York, for Atlanta, for the Poconos, for Forest Hills, for Yonkers. They leave for Mamaroneck, for Montclair, for Austin, for Florida. And they are replaced with people who are never home (perhaps because they work all the time?). They are being replaced by investors, or relocated bankers from Europe on two-year assignments. New York City has always been a place where people come from elsewhere and move to — in that sense, none of this is new. But what’s being lost now is being replaced with a facade of itself. Behind that reclaimed barn wood is cheap drywall. And all the patina of old Brooklyn that the new Brooklyn loves — the Edison lights, the “hand-crafted” cocktails (as opposed to made by… robots?), the artisanal pickles –- all of that doesn’t make up for the real thing that’s gone forever.

All of that fake patina, replacing the real.

I’m a hypocrite. I enjoy a good restaurant with reclaimed barn wood and old timey wallpaper just as much as the rest of my herd. But, having left Brooklyn and most of that motif behind (we live now in a part of D.C. that doesn’t have much of it) — I’m not missing having three wood-burning pizza restaurants that make their own cheese within a five-block radius of my house. I’m not missing much, actually. Except the people. I miss the people terribly. And I hope that everyone who wants to can manage to stay.

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Brooklyn past and present are coexisting nicely, found a 44-year resident of the borough when he stayed overnight at the Wythe Hotel and wrote about the memories it prompted for The New York Times travel section over the weekend.

The forces behind the changes of the last 44 years are, of course, complex. Many have lost out, been pushed out, as others have thrived; not everyone from Brooklyn has benefited from the new Brooklyn. But coming here on vacation allows you to marvel at what the place has become, even as the forces behind it linger beneath the surface. When I visit a foreign city, my greatest joy is to just walk around. Park Slope is the perfect place for that, with its spectacular collection of 1880s neo-Grec rowhouses. The Plaza Hotel is now a fancy condominium, beautifully done; Prospect Park, a finely groomed sylvan escape rather than a netherworld of foreboding. This is a neighborhood where physical urban beauty is as easy to appreciate as it is in Paris or Edinburgh. Much remains as it was, even if there are an awful lot of bank branches and real estate offices. The sycamore trees on St. Johns Place still provide a cooling canopy in summer, three churches still stand sentry at the top of the block. The faux-oriental plastic letters of the San Toy Laundry on Seventh Avenue are as unintentionally comic today as they were then. The girls whom my 14-year-old son hangs around with look and dress almost exactly like the girls with whom I sat on stoops 30 years ago. They even listen to the same bands.

Other conclusions: The real estate prices are crazy, of course, but one can hear good music everywhere, and the borough is perhaps somewhat more racially harmonious and accepting than it once was. There are still murders and muggings. Do you think it’s a fair portrait?

My Brooklyn, Then and Now [NY Times]
Impressions of Brooklyn [NY Times]

andrew tarlow randy cohen

Brooklyn entreprenuer Andrew Tarlow is sitting down for an interview with former New York Times “The Ethicist” columnist and broadcaster Randy Cohen tomorrow at the Brooklyn Historical Society. Cohen will interview Tarlow about a person, place and thing that have been meaningful to him for Cohen’s public radio show Person Place Thing.

Tarlow, pictured at right, helped pioneer locavore dining in Brooklyn with his Williamsburg restaurants Diner and Marlow and Sons and butcher shop Marlow and Daughters; he recently opened the Wythe Hotel and its restaurant, Reynard, and publishes quarterly magazine Diner Journal.

The event is free for BHS members and costs $5 for everyone else, and tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite. It takes place tomorrow from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Brooklyn Historical Society at 128 Pierrepont Street in Brooklyn Heights.

Photos via Brooklyn Historical Society