Most visitors to NYC have heard that Brooklyn is an artisan heaven, full of indie shops and specialty food stores. Or maybe they’ve heard about the diverse, artistic population. When our guests on Shop Gotham tours want to go to Brooklyn, but they aren’t sure where to go, we send them to Fort Greene!
This hip neighborhood is a stone’s throw away from Manhattan. Take just about any train downtown to the Atlantic station, and voila, there you are. (Insider’s tip: the express Q train from Manhattan is the fastest.) Follow the signs out of the subway to One Hanson Place for the first stop on our four-hour tour.
1st Hour: Brooklyn Flea
The winter home of this mammoth flea market is right across the street from Atlantic Station. One Hanson Place used to house a bank on its ground floor; now the doors swing open to reveal aisle after aisle of vendors selling furniture, records, vintage clothing and accessories. A person could easily spend four hours combing the aisles, but for the purposes of this blog we allot one hour. Insider’s tip: go to the bottom floor for a lobster roll from Red Hook Lobster Pound, which serves up what is arguably the best lobster roll in the City.
2nd Hour: Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)
For more than 150 years, Brooklyn Academy of Music has occupied this corner of Lafayette. Just down the street from the Flea, this multi-arts complex no longer houses just an academy: it has an opera house, movie theatre, and two adjacent theatres for live productions. The best way to experience BAM is to take in a production there, be it an art movie, an opera, or a theatre piece featuring stars like Cate Blanchett or Alan Rickman. But since we have to limit this blog to a mere four hours, we recommend poking around the buildings, taking in the architecture and the latest visual art display. (Insider’s tip: you have just one more week to take in the Freedom Ride exhibit, which explores the civil rights journey of African-Americans during the last half century.)
3rd Hour: Greenlight Bookstore
While independent bookstores are dying out all over America, Brooklyn can boast the success of Greenlight Bookstore, a hip, locally-owned bookstore right in the heart of Fort Greene. Book lovers will love roaming the aisles of this bright and friendly store, while people watchers will get their fill of Brooklyn locals perusing the shelves. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and those looking for a little slice of New York will not be disappointed. Greenlight has an exceptional section of books by and about New Yorkers, and Brooklynites in particular.
4th Hour: Chow Down!
There are so many good restaurants in this neighborhood that it’s hard to choose one. Fortunately, Fort Greene reflects the extreme ethnic diversity of the borough. Within the confines of this neighborhood, it is possible to get Mexican, BBQ, Turkish, Ethiopian, Mediterranean, Thai, Japanese, Indian, French, South African, Italian and plain old, good American food as well. The original Junior’s sits on Flatbush at the edge of the neighborhood, but our personal favorite is Brooklyn Public House on DeKalb. This friendly, reasonably priced pub has easily the best burgers in town as well as a terrific beer list. Celebs are frequently spotted here, but everyone is so cool that you may not even notice. It’s the perfect place to end your Brooklyn sojourn. Hope you’ve enjoyed it!