After living in Park Slope for over 5 months now, I consider this area worth a thoughtful review. So, to keep it short: Park Slope is great!
Park Slope is big, too. The entire neighborhood ranges well over 35 street blocks and 5 avenue blocks. It goes from the Atlantic Ave Center to the South Slope, which is the part considered around 20th St; from 4th to 9th Avenue. I live on 7th Ave, close to the F-train, and not too far from the R-train, either (it tends to switch to the D and N train on the weekend, but only if you least expect it to and almost always when you don’t need any of those lines!).
The area is often called the next “in-area.” I think it has carried this label for the past 10 years and it has led many new people to move in who want to live in a nice area in Brooklyn, but who do not want to pay the rent asked for in Brooklyn Heights or Williamsburg. Often, the Slope and Williamsburg are up for comparison, for whatever reason I am still unsure, but I can reassure you that there is nothing that comes even close to each neighborhood’s very own flair. Williamsburg is rather small, since it only stretches over about one third of the blocks the Slope does, and it has the famous Bedford Avenue which is notorious for one bar slammed right next to the other. The rents have risen drastically in the past 10 to 15 years; at about the same time hipsters, artists, and rich people have discovered what a raw diamond it might be. Right now you would pay for the same amount of space the same amount of money you can get in a compatible neighborhood in Manhattan. Is it worth moving to W-burg if you could just as well stay in the LES or some other urban area? I am not sure.
Park Slope’s rental prices are still more on the affordable end compared to the Bedford area fiasco. Sure, they have had their share of rise and fall, and even more of a rental price increase within the past 10 years. But you can still sneak in there and get a good deal, especially when you are willing to share an apartment and commit to roommates.
The area of Park Slope I call my home has everything a young heart could ask for and, in addition, it offers an oasis of peace for the times I have been worn out by the City and beaten up by rushed people, chaos, and noise. A change of scenery is always welcome and this is what the Slope can give me thoroughly. It is a safe area, with many families, young people, and not too much ethnic diversity, which I do not consider a bad thing in this case. Don’t get me wrong, I am totally for the real experience of New York, the mixed cultural groups, and the different languages spoken. But ethnic diversity can also cause conflicts and other negative aspects, and I am not looking for trouble in a neighborhood I want to live in for an extended period of time. I have been through this in my previous living situation.
As soon as I get off the train, I am surrounded by cute little shops, small restaurants (and these are ethnically diverse, in case you wondered), and bars. I can actually walk to my apartment without being hit on by Haitian guys or being robbed, insulted, spat at. It took me about a month to adjust to this newly-gained freedom – a freedom even greater than when living on one’s own: The freedom of just being who you are and no one caring about this or trying to hinder you because of feelings of inferiority and jealousy. During the winter my roommates and I went to check out the bars on our avenue and around our block because we didn’t feel like going all the way into Manhattan. We found a cute European-style bar not too far away, which was opened up by an Austrian guy from Vienna, so it supports a concept I am familiar with. We usually check out their great happy hour deals and hop in after brunch on the weekends. There are at least four other bars in close proximity to where we live and we really enjoy just going for a drink and getting to know new people who come from other parts of Brooklyn, sometimes.
If 7th Ave gets too boring, you still have the choice to go down to 5th Ave or make your way up to 9th Ave, which offers some interesting dining spots and drinking establishments, too. I usually pay 5th Ave a visit because of its 99ct stores, a vintage shop, and cheaper nail manicure. My heart still lightens up at the prospect of having my nails done for less than 10 dollars in New York. It is so unbelievably cheap compared to Germany and this not only because of the Euro to Dollar conversion.
Williamsburg might have its hipsters, its artists, its overpriced apartments, its ghetto right next door, some Polish flair coming from the nearby Greenpoint area, and Bedford Ave. But Park Slope has even better, we have Prospect Park! And I, coming from a small village, being surrounded by nature practically 24/7, and knowing what cows and goats look AND feel like, well, I would have never thought of what great use a park in New York can be. Until I moved here and was surrounded by one more endless-seeming street after another, one skyscraper taller than the other, one car noisier and faster than the other… in short: an enormous, never-ending, loud, chaotic jungle made of concrete, tar, glass and nothing even close to resembling nature in its purest form. So it is off to the park on days you just need a time-out, sit in the grass, and count the clouds in the sky. Prospect Park is designed by the very same people who have created Central Park and, some say, whatever they were unable to include in Manhattan they have added in an improved form in Brooklyn. I consider this to be a nice story and it makes the park very unique. It borders not only on Park Slope but also Crown Heights, Flatbush, and Fort Hamilton on the opposing sides. I once wanted to know how big this park really is, not only in numerical terms but in terms I could define by myself, so one winter day I decided to go for a stroll and ended up walking around the entire park. Besides some fresh air, I took some nice pictures, which are yours to share.
This was after our first big snowfall of the season in early January of 2011. Yes, the one that left us with 20 inches of snow, three days of a poorly working metro system, and one day off from work for me. Here is a good shot of what it looks like after a full-blown blizzard has hit New York for 24 hours straight.
And for your information, it took me roughly 2 hours to make my way through the beautiful, snowed up walks from starting point A back to starting point A – all the way around.
Park Slope is definitely always worth the visit and I am one lucky bird for living here and finally being able to appreciate being a resident of Brooklyn. I wouldn’t want to change it for anything right now. Until something more interesting comes along, that is.