NFT New York Brooklyn Heights / DUMBO / Downtown

Brooklyn Heights / DUMBO / Downtown

Three 'nabes for the price of one! Or is that three 'nabes for the price of ten? Yes, Brooklyn Heights really is that expensive, but there's a reason: it's one of the most sublimely beautiful neighborhoods in all of New York, with jaw-dropping city views along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, two friendly retail strips on Montague and Henry Streets, views of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, and perhaps the city's best stock of brownstones and clapboard homes, especially around the "fruit street" area of Orange, Cranberry, and Pineapple, but even heading all the way south along Henry and Hicks Streets until the neighborhood ends at busy Atlantic Avenue.

By the time one hits Court Street heading east from Brooklyn Heights, however, you can chuck the sublime right out the window. The borough's central nervous system, Downtown Brooklyn features several courthouses (you'll learn your way around when Kings County jury duty calls), See more.

>Brooklyn Borough Hall, Metrotech Center (encompassing the New York City College of Technology, a large Marriott hotel, Polytechnic Institute of New York University, and a convenient TKTS Booth), Brooklyn Law School, the Fulton Street Mall, jam-packed daily with lunchtime shoppers, and finally, a warren of subways that can take you to any other point in New York City. Speaking of which, don't miss the New York Transit Museum, a fascinating look at how our underground web of trains came to be--and not just for aficionados.

DUMBO ("Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass," the acronym appropriated from Walt Disney since the late 1970s), the third neighborhood in this trilogy, has followed the warehouse-turned-artist-studio-turned-expensive-condo route. Like Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO features killer views of downtown Manhattan, just closer to the waterfront. Retail in DUMBO, will be forever limited, and many shops close early (by New York standards). As DUMBO truly only has one subway stop (the York Street F), it can get a little desolate, especially late at night. And while this all sounds like a quiet, idyllic little neighborhood, there's only one problem: the constant rumble of the B, D, N, and Q trains overhead on the Manhattan Bridge. Thank goodness for double-pane windows.

For true peace and quiet, you'd have to head east about five blocks from DUMBO to check out one of our favorite micro-neighborhoods, Vinegar Hill. Literally only three blocks wide and two blocks long, Vinegar Hill is bordered by a power plant to the north, the Navy Yard to the east, the Farragut Houses to the south, and DUMBO to the west. Inside its cobblestoned streets are a vestige of 19th-century Navy housing and an ex-retail strip along Hudson Street.

And then there's Brooklyn Bridge Park, stretching 1.3 miles along the East River waterfront from Atlantic Avenue to the south all the way past Manhattan Bridge to the north. Comprising six repurposed shipping piers, the former Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park, two Civil War-era historic buildings, and various city-owned open spaces along the waterfront, the 85-acre site combines active and passive recreation with the stunning backdrop of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, Lower Manhattan and the New York Harbor beyond.

By 8 p.m., teeming Downtown Brooklyn is a ghost town; you'll either need to head north to DUMBO or west to the Heights to wet your whistle. In DUMBO check out bustling Galapagos Art Space after a performance at brilliant St. Ann's Warehouse. In the Heights, Henry Street Ale House is a good complement to catching a flick at cozy Heights Cinema.

Our favorite places here are mostly in the "special occasion" category due to price: the Heights' cozy gastropub Jack the Horse, game-oriented old-school Henry's End, and the superb Vinegar Hill House. Otherwise, get great pizza at Juliana's, grab fast food on Fulton Street Mall, or hit classic Junior's for hangover food.

Need something, anything, quick and cheap? The Fulton Street Mall area is your answer, with a Macy's and tons of discount shops. In DUMBO, you can get great books at powerHouse, chocolate at Jacques Torres, and pastries at Almondine. In the Heights, browse women's clothing at Tango on Montague.


This Neighborhood Featured in...
On the Hunt for NY's Avant-Garde

By Sarah Enelow
New York is a world-class performing arts mecca, especially when it comes to experimental work, but where exactly does one find it? NFT Editor Sarah Enelow takes us on a tour of avant-garde performance venues in the city, cutting through the Broadway fluff to find the best, most affordable offbeat events.
Meaningful Voyages

By Rebecca Katherine Hirsch
If there's one thing Rebecca knows, it's needless, interminable perambulating. Possessions will be mugged, blood will be spilled. Still, Rebecca soldiers on--from her humble Polish hood to the western tip of Long Island; her heart asunder, her mind a-scattered. Come! Join Rebecca on this gut-wrenching journey through the heart of Brooklyn, but also the mind.

Chasing Andy Heidel

By Rebecca Katherine Hirsch
Rebecca is the lifeblood of Not For Tourists. The lynchpin that holds the unit intact, the polestar that guides the destiny of its guides. She only has one weakness: The ones who serve her.
At Three Miles an Hour

By Emily Pecora
A primal, masochistic band of urban hikers stalk the bridges of NYC at the crack of dawn on weekend mornings guided only by their beating hearts, gruff behaviors and rugged silence. These are the Shorewalkers, and they take no prisoners. Be it freezing, torrid or in any other capacity uncomfortable, they soldier on interminably. Jump on or fuck off.


On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Rob Tallia
Photo:  Rob Tallia

Issue Project Room
Want to sweat like a pig outside in a totally enclosed, breeze-less outdoor courtyard near the Gowanus Canal and hear avant-garde musical offerings from the cool curators at Issue Project Room! Of course you do! It beats sitting inside the long narrow airless inside space that is Issue's main space (at least until they move to new digs, again). A few weeks ago was sold-out Syrian legend Omar Souleyman, who rocked the space even though it was approximately 400 degrees. There are only a few more outdoor concerts left, so check them out--you can browse crafts next door before the show, and the keg beer usually doesn't run out!

Posted By:  Sarah Enelow
Photo:  Sarah Enelow

New York Transit Museum
At the risk of sounding ungrateful, most days the subway is just abysmal. I've spent hours praying that someday I'll live and work in the same neighborhood. But until then, I'll have to remain optimistic and visit the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn Heights, perhaps the only place where you can really romanticize train travel, as it was in the old days. Visitors descend into an unused but functional subway station, and are greeted by the harrowing story of underwater tunnel diggers being sucked into the East River and shot into the air in a geyser of human bodies. Not romantic enough for you? After you stop trembling at the idea of dying beneath a collapsed street, you'll reach some fascinating exhibits regarding Robert Moses, bridges and above-ground transportation, the retired Myrtle Avenue subway line, how the MTA collected money and tokens over the years, the evolution of MTA signage, and more. The journey culminates with the chance to walk through a collection of vintage subway cars, dating as early as 1904. Take your time here and check out the old advertisements, and when you're done, try not to get back on the modern-day subway too soon.

Posted By:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Courtesy of Aligned Creative

Galapagos Art Space
Heads up indie video fans. Make sure to come on out Thursday, December 3rd to Galapagos for Aligned Creative's Mixed Media Party. The night will feature an exclusive premiere of AC's new web series, Krazdale: A Smorgasbord Of Absurdity! It's a new interactive web series that gives the viewer an opportunity to write their own episodes and incorporate themselves into the show's universe that AC will help produce. It's a very cool concept that helps foster the originality and creativity of young filmmakers, by giving them a platform to produce short form artistic content. Along with Krazdale the night will also include Aligned Creative produced music videos, a showcase of AC handpicked short films by up and coming filmmakers Cai Hall, Kieran O’Hare, Chris King, and Matt Farrell, and live performances by The Middle Eight and Emily Mure. Tickets are $10 at the door.

Posted By:  Molly Riordan
Photo:  Molly Riordan

Vinegar Hill House
Want to impress your foodie friends or prove to your parents that living in post-industrial Brooklyn is more than high rent and flaking plaster? Take them to Vinegar Hill House. First, check your NFT to see where the heck this non-neighborhood is, then lead them down the cobblestone path to obscure fine-dining! We passed the restaurant twice before making it into the organ-bedecked room warmed by the same wood-fired oven in which all the food is cooked. The menu is alarmingly brief with three apps, four entrees, and a special or two--soothe them with phrases like "seasonal produce" and "changes weekly." The tartlet is a highlight with a palate-popping combo of stilton and sweet-potato in gold-crisp crust. Everything else is solidly good: fish tender, sweet and sour eggplant both sweet and sour. Meat is served on cutting boards, water in old wine bottles, wine in tiny glasses (not BYO anymore, though they've jumped on the Old Fashioned train with liquor license in hand)--all by attractive flannel-clad twentysomethings. This enclave of rustic-refinement won't be your new watering hole, but VHH is a trump card to defend your Brooklyn restaurant cred.

Posted By:  Jane Pirone
Photo:  Jane Pirone

Manhattan Bridge
Forget Niagara, Victoria, and Foz De Iguazu... this summer, the Public Art Fund has provided NYC with an even more spectacular waterfall experience. And not a moment too soon with travel prices the way they are these days. Installation/Public art sensation, Olafur Eliasson has created not one, but four monumental waterfall structures around the gateway area of the East River. They will run seven days a week, from 7 am-10 pm, June 26th through October 13th, 2008. I asked some young urban hipsters what they thought as we all gawked along the Manhattan Bridge bike path at the Pier 35 trial run... "beautiful man, just beautiful!" Oh, and, not to brag, but NFT made the vantage point map! Use it to find the best viewing spots. Visit for more info or download a PDF version of the NFT Map.

Posted By:  Rob Tallia
Photo:  Rob Tallia

Jacques Torres Chocolate
And those three words are? Frozen Hot Chocolate, of course. Yes, you can get many other things at Jacques Torres, and, if your aural passages (to say nothing of your oral passages) respond better to words such as “truffle,” or, more simply, “candy bar,” you can get those here as well. The truffles are indeed brilliant (try the basic XOXO one first, then move on), the candy bars pack ten times the punch of your standard Hershey’s, and the packaging will definitely get you an extra base that night. But, for those glorious DUMBO mornings, there is the Frozen Hot Chocolate; a hot chocolate that’s been sitting in the fridge since the night before, then iced up in a blender the next morning for your choco-pleasure. Are you kidding? No, we’re not kidding. F*** YES, baby!

Posted By:  Kristin Ball
Photo:  Kristin Ball

Once a clothing afterthought left to ferment in gym lockers, t-shirts are daily worn by the cultural elite and the hoi polloi alike. Whichever class you belong to, you’ll love the fresh designs at Star76. This new creative collective works with local emerging artists and offers limited-edition tees via their website for spring (if spring ever gets here, that is) ensuring that you’ll look a hell of a lot better than your friends in their tired H&M rags. You’ll also be doing something for charity—the Star76 team supports emerging nonprofit organizations via the Ad Astra Initiative, a pilot program committed to building awareness of new and innovative nonprofit organizations. First up is Project Mim. Founded by Jason Moses, co-owner of the Purified Loft in Dumbo, Project Mim seeks to promote sustainable development for villages in Africa. Sustaining Africa, sustaining your wardrobe…sounds like a win-win to me. Check out:

Posted By:  Diana Barnes-Brown
Photo:  Diana Barnes-Brown

Gino's Pizzeria
For Brooklynites in search of a decent pie, Gino’s is the perfect place to stop in or order out. Just a few blocks from the bars and shops on busy 5th Avenue, Gino’s is in a prime location to indulge impromptu pizza cravings–they even deliver to the nearby watering holes that don’t offer food. A common sight to area barflies and homebodies alike, the cheerful delivery folk bring hand tossed pies with a perfect sweet-salty balance of tomato sauce and mozzarella. The best bet is to stick to simpler pies–standard cheese, pepperoni, and mushroom are the best, while fancier toping combos are less satisfying. But who needs fancy when it comes to New York Pizza? The best pizza here is always no-frills and Gino’s doesn’t disappoint.

Posted By:  Dave Crish
Photo:  Chesley Andrews

New York Transit Museum
With thoughts to cull or nay, the morning M 'bout outer boro—per pleasant trek fro anywhere borne 'tween Middle Village and southern berm of Brooktown Bay. Parkway, that is, imbibing rhyming 'pon only slightly graffiti'd sleigh. Trans preponderance of elevated dots chock of placid folk, mostly, space enough to 'low even a bloodshot user grace. Elbow room for standing reading, often sitting 'mid provincial waft. Primarily Post readers, the occasional sleeper. Sphere a fine time to unknow reason one presently traverses inertia. Reminding one of homeland if homeland afar the urban cess, however, here, trans. Six stops on Island High. Not the voguest route in town, though, remote to make what will. Even swill a silver can for ain't your correspoendent ever seen a cop atop it's faintly littered floor. For the abstemious commuter, this inappreciably routed M, of facile turnstiles to hurdle, especially mornings. More specifically Fresh Pond Road. And a gem apart notes of morning to the traveling know, a fine, lightly loaded purview available of High Island's skyline over River East at dusk—ten seconds to or fro Billyburg—Inter Essex Street and Marcy mezzo of M, La Linea Cocoa.

Posted By:  Rob Tallia
Photo:  Rob Tallia

Henry's End
Henry’s End is one of a dying breed—a true old-world New York treasure, in one of the city’s loveliest neighborhoods, Brooklyn Heights. But location and ambiance are only two of the ‘End’s four main treasures—the other two being its killer beer selection (it’s not how many beers you have, little grasshoppers, but which ones you choose to serve that is important) and its yearly Game Festival, which begins today, September 29th. You’ve got turtle soup, boar, and other options, but we simply recommend the following procedure: go in, sit down, speak the words “Elk Chops,” and life will soon begin to have new meaning for you. If it doesn’t, there’s always Scientology or the Church of the Rosy Crucifiction.

Posted By:  Rob Tallia
Photo:  Rob Tallia

Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park
A pretty cool art show with a pretty stupid name. There are a bunch of strong pieces, actually (especially Julia Ousley’s Skyline II, pictured), and the setting—Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park—can’t be beat, so just go and hang out, preferably with some pastries, breads, and chocolates from Almondine Bakery and/or Jaques Torres Chocolates, both conveniently located on Water Street. Since Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park is just that—a state park—there is usually a park ranger walking around (he looks like Tom Skerritt) and the park itself is only open 8 am-dusk; for late-night or early-morning views, just go next door to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Now let’s just hope the Brooklyn Waterfront Artist’s Coalition can get someone to name their shows a bit better…

Posted By:  Michael Massmann
Photo:  Michael Massmann

Water Street Restaurant & Lounge
The Water Street Bar & Restaurant is a mellow and sophisticated place to pass an hour or two of down time in the gratuitously gentrified little community of Dumbo. Not ten years ago the area was nothing but warehouses. Now, however, with countless chic eateries and numerous antique and custom-made furniture stores, it conjures up images of scenic and moneyed little hamlets on the water such as Sausalito and Provincetown. So after you have a stroll around, which shouldn’t take that long, stop in for a drink and enjoy a World Cup match. Their international clientele and staff – the bartender was Italian, the jazz musicians French – and late-night hours promise plenty of coverage of the world’s most popular sporting event. But be prepared, the neighborhood supports a small group of English ex-pats. That being said, Dumbo is so low-key that I doubt you will encounter any “hooliganism.” If you go on a Sunday afternoon you can get a truly superb burger with an entrée and a cocktail of your choice for $14.95. Private rooms are available to rent for occasions.

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