What’s In A Name….

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I’m sure most of us have never stopped to think about where the neighborhood’s we live in got their name, or even the history behind it. While some of the older areas are named after Dutch settlers, the newer, more industrialized locations that have turned residential over the past couple of years received their moniker based on geographical location. Take the area of DUMBO, Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. When we set out with our real estate agent, we might have chosen the location based on a number of factors, but chances are it’s not because of a name.

If we stop and think about it for a moment, there is a lot of history that helped shape not only the borough of Brooklyn, but each of the 77 neighborhoods that comprise Kings County. It’s extremely fascinating, especially if you’re a history buff.  The Brooklyn Historical Society is a great place for more in-depth knowledge on such a fascinating topic.

The borough itself has the Dutch colonists to thank for their name. In the mid 1600’s Brooklyn consisted of six separate towns. One of these towns, settled in 1646, was named “Breuckelen,” named after a village in the Netherlands. In 1664, the English gained control of the area and the name was eventually anglicized to “Brooklyn” the name residents have come to know and love.

As for the areas that comprise the borough, let’s take a look at where a few originated.

Gerritsen Beach

 Gerritsen Beach

Located just 13 miles from New York City on Brooklyn’s southern shore, this quaint and close knit community was named for the Dutch settler, Wolphert Gerretse, who built his home and mill alongside Gerritsen Creek in the early 17th century. The area was mainly rural territory until the 1920’s when developers began building a resort community.

The allure of Gerritsen Beach for many multi-generational families is living amongst friends and the security of knowing your neighbors. While close to Marine Park and Sheepshead Bay, the neighborhood has a private beach which offers easy access to boating and parkland.

Neighborhood stores and commercial activity can be found along Gerritsen Avenue. Another interesting fact, the neighborhood is home to the only remaining volunteer fire department in Brooklyn and is one of nine that exist in NYC.

Benson

Bensonhurst

Tucked between a multitude of neighborhoods on the southwestern side of Brooklyn, Bensonhurst was an area comprised of farmland back in the 1800’s. Originally owned by the Polhemus family, a landowning clan, they sold their acreage to the Benson family, descendants from some of America’s earliest Dutch settlers.

In 1889, a developer by the name of James Lynch bought the Benson family’s land; his plan was to turn the area into an exclusive resort, complete with a steam rail and trolley access. The Benson family agreed to the sale under one condition; that it would be known by their surname. For a brief time the neighborhood was referred to as Bensonhurst-by-the-Sea but over time it was eventually shortened.

Today, two main thoroughfares run through this popular neighborhood. Whether walking or driving along 18th Avenue you’ll find the streets lined with predominantly small, family-owned businesses; plus it is home to the popular 18th Avenue Feast which takes place yearly in late August/early September. There is also the ever popular 86th Street, filled with a slew of stores and restaurants. On the second Sunday after Memorial the annual 86th Street Festival is held and there you’ll find the streets lined with live music, food, carnival rides.

Carroll Gardens

Carroll Gardens

The residential area known as Carroll Gardens offers its residents a serene neighborhood filled with brownstone row houses, accompanied by beautiful front gardens. The area takes it name from Carroll Park which is a vital center of the community. The park, built in the late 1840’s, is comprised of playgrounds, walkways, and sitting areas that run between Court, Smith, Carroll, and President Streets.

Originally a private garden purchased by the city in 1853, it was named after Charles Carroll, a wealthy Maryland planter, who was also the first United States Senator for Maryland, and one of the signors of the Declaration of Independence.

You might be wondering why a man from Maryland had the honor of a NY neighborhood being named after him; Carroll led the 1st Maryland Regiment, a group of soldiers who were integral to the Battle of Brooklyn in August 1776. These brave men charged the enemy holed up at the Old Stone House at the Gowanus so Washington’s army would have time to escape. Their bravery changed the course of the Revolutionary War.

The gardens refer to the big gardens in the front yards of these beautiful homes. In 1846, a surveyor named Richard Butt planned gardens in front of the brownstone homes in the oldest section of the neighborhood when he developed it.

Originally considered to be a part of the Red Hook neighborhood, Carroll Gardens began to have its own identity in the 1960s.

A favorite area amongst many, the neighborhood is filled with local retailers, cafes, restaurants, and trendy bars, giving it a distinct and unique charm.

Greenpoint landing

Greenpoint

With views of the Manhattan skyline, Greenpoint is one of the more cozier and intimate areas of the borough even as they continue to grow in popularity amongst home buyers.

Originally an area of vast farmland, it was surrounded by blooming trees, beautiful meadows, fresh water creeks and briny marshes. European settlers originally referred to a small bluff of land jutting into the East River at what is now the westernmost end of Freeman Street as “Greenpoint” but eventually the name came to encompass the whole area.

Because it was once predominantly farmland, many of the farm owners family names, like  Meserole and Calyer, are still the street names of today.  It’s also been said that Brooklyn’s distinctive accent originates from Greenpoint.

The neighborhood is also home to McCarren Park which first opened in 1906 under the name Greenpoint Park and renamed two years later after State Senator Patrick H. McCarren. The park contains an outdoor pool, a recreational center, film and concerts in the summer months, and a greenmarket which is open for business on Saturdays. The neighborhood is also a popular filming location for TV and film.

Over the years the demand for housing has skyrocketed and many new developments have begun [although completion is a few years away], especially along the area’s waterfront, which along with the waterfront in Williamsburg, was rezoned in 2005 for increased residential projects.

In 2015, construction began on Greenpoint Landing, a project which includes ten residential towers, a public elementary and middle school, and 4 acres of parkland. While as of this past spring one building has opened, completion is expected to be before 2027.

 

 

Look Who’s Turning 90!

When you hear the name Brooklyn many things come to mind; whether its things like real estate, food, festivals, or landmarks, the borough has an abundance to offer that will not disappoint.

Nathan's Hotdog

At the top of that list is the Cyclone at Luna Park (formerly the grounds of Astroland) in Coney Island, an iconic attraction that cannot be missed. Whether you’re a resident or a tourist visiting New York, the cyclone is a part of Brooklyn’s history and an attraction not to be missed.

“As a New Yorker, the cyclone is one of the top things you have to do,” says Angie Morris, Luna Park’s brand manager. “It’s amazing to hear guests from all over the world add the Cyclone to their “must do” list.”

Cyclone

In just a few short weeks, the historic wooden roller coaster will turn 90 years old! Since it’s opening on June 26th, 1927, it has been giving thrill seekers a ride to remember. It’s not been without its hiccups; in the 1970’s due to economic turmoil the coaster was almost torn down but then mayor, Ed Koch, fought to save it, saying he wasn’t sure Coney Island could survive without it. “Brooklyn is the Cyclone,” says Morris. “It is a generational ride that is shared with all Brooklynites.”

In 1988, it was declared a landmark and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

It also holds a bit of history; famous celebrities have ridden it and aviator Charles Lindbergh, the first person to fly solo over the Atlantic Ocean, reportedly said a ride on this roller coaster was greater than flying a plane at top speed.

It’s also been featured in such action thriller movies such as, “The Warriors,” and “Shakedown” with actor Sam Elliot while stars like Diana Ross and Michael Jackson danced under it in the hit film “The Wiz.”

The Warriors

Soaring above Coney Island’s boardwalk at the corner of Surf Avenue and West 10th Street, the impressive coaster reaches an 85 foot peak before a roaring 60 mph plunge brings only the bravest to the bottom.  Overall, there are 12 drops throughout the 2,640 feet of swirling track and 27 elevation changes. For a minute and 50 seconds, passengers aboard the cyclone experience a thrill on the all wooden piece of machinery that’s like no other. It’s definitely not a ride for the faint of heart!

Rollercoaster Picture

To commemorate this milestone birthday, Luna Park will be celebrating the cyclone’s 90th on Saturday, June 25th with the biggest block party in Brooklyn. Rain or shine the party starts at 2pm and is free for all ages. The fun-filled day will include such activities as face painting, a photo booth, and appearances by the Harlem Globetrotters and a musical performance from Brooklyn’s own Fabolous.

Globetotters

Along with the rest of the rides, games and food, the famous Feltman’s of Coney Island which closed its doors in 1954 is returning this summer to the original spot where it first began.

“We celebrate milestones for the Cyclone because it is a NYC landmark,” says Morris. “As we’ve done in the past with the 75th, 85th, and now 90th; it’s our way of honoring an icon and as we gear up for the 100th!”

But don’t be deceived; while this coaster might be turning 90 there is nothing old about her. Fully refurbished last year, it has been repaired and restored throughout the years and is inspected daily for the safety of its riders.

Luna Park first opened in 2010 on the former grounds of Astroland and this summer they’ve removed their 4 hour wristband to introduce the All Day wristband which gives guests the opportunity to ride all of the rides unlimited times all day long. So if you’re brave enough you can conquer the Cyclone more than once in a day!

Luna Park

Let’s talk about six: What’s a classic six apartment?

Have you ever heard of a “classic six” apartment? From time-to-time in NYC you might’ve crossed this listing term and found yourself curious as to what it actually means. According to Brownstoner, a classic six apartment is “chic, desirable and great for raising a family”. But what makes this style of living just so appealing? What is it makes a “classic six” one of New York City’s most sought after apartment layouts? 

Let’s break it down.

 

The classic layout

A classic six is a prewar (“classic”) apartment with a certain number of separate rooms (you guessed it – “six”). However that’s not all, it must also include a living room, formal dining room with a window, a kitchen, two full bedrooms and a maid’s room (typically smaller than the main bedrooms and usually located off the kitchen). While a classic six can have any number of bathrooms, oftentimes you’ll find the maid’s room also boasts its own full or half-bath.

A Prospect Heights’ classic six floor plan. Image: Brownstoner
A Prospect Heights’ classic six floor plan. Image: Brownstoner

The “other” classics

You might have come across the phrases “classic five” (lacking the maid’s room), or “classic seven” (which includes an additional bedroom), however, the less common, rare surviving “classic eight” with a room for a second maid, also exists.

Searching for six

According to Brownstoner, “the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side are known for having the largest stocks of classic six units in New York, [but] even there, listings are scarce”. Many are in co-op buildings (and occasionally condo buildings) and it’s incredibly rare to find one for rent. 

A good place to start is Brooklyn – Brooklyn Heights, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights or Park Slope – places boasting large-scale pre-war apartment buildings.

Apartment appeal

In addition to the obvious, being the sheer size of a classic six, both the fact that they’re so hard to come across and the distinct layout play a big role in the appeal. More or less impossible to achieve in smaller NYC apartments, the layout of a classic six provides both privacy and a feel of openness. How? The kitchen, dining and entertaining/common areas are often separated from the main bedrooms by a distinct hallway. Because of this, these “apartments” actually have a layout more similar to a classic single family home.

The space separation of the maid’s room to the rest of the home, tucked away by the kitchen, is often a favorite of NYC youth who enjoy the privacy and the idea of occupying their own living quarters. Of course, being so close by the kitchen and that endless supply of coffee, this space also makes for a great home office or studio! If you’ve found yourself with a classic six with a maid’s room that boasts it’s own bathroom or half bath too, why not turn it into a guest bedroom?

A classic six kitchen with a maid’s room converted to a guest bedroom. Image: The Wall Street Journal
A classic six kitchen with a maid’s room converted to a guest bedroom. Image: The Wall Street Journal

Your pre-war classic six: The 2017 update

Given the original construction date on majority of these apartments, chances are, yours might be in need of a little upgrade. Or perhaps you’re ready to do a little renovating to turn that maid’s quarters into your new home office? You might like to enlist the help of someone like All Renovations – specialists in high-end Brooklyn and Manhattan brownstone renovations. Or Brooklyn-based Creative Renovations – whose past client list includes a number of Brooklyn brownstone landmarks!

Escaping New York noise – soundproofing your apartment

 

Whether you’re relatively new to New York City or you’ve been living here for most of your life, it’s never easy to adjust to the daily (and nightly) grind. No matter how many floors you walk up, street noise, snow shoveling, garbage collection, your neighbors, traffic horns and other noises always seem to make their way into your apartment – particularly when it comes time to sleep.

Of course, “soundproofing” per se generally refers to completely eliminating sound. And for those of you living in NYC, you’ll agree that eradicating sound 100% isn’t exactly possible. That’s why we’ve pulled together 3 handy hints for minimizing the noise getting in to your apartment and dealing with the city sounds around you.

#1 Sealing is believing

 

Yes, that gap between the bottom of your door and the floor really might not seem like much, but it allows for the entry of a great amount of noise. Try using a door seal or draft guard to fill the gap! Not only will this help block extra unwanted noise, it’s a simple and cost effective way to add a little extra insulation to your apartment, helping to trap warm air in in the winter. You can pick up a draft seal from Bed, Bath & Beyond for under $10! 

Image: Bed, Bath & Beyond
Image: Bed, Bath & Beyond

 

#2 A win-win(dow) situation

Do you own your apartment? While upgrading your windows is a step up from purchasing a door seal in terms of the price tag, it’s certainly a worthwhile investment. Did you know with the appropriate glass thickness and the right insulation, some windows can block up to 95% of external noise?

If you’re not sure upgrading your windows is worth your investment, you can check in with an acoustic consultant, or soundproofing specialist, to get their advice. You might like to check out Brooklyn Insulation and Soundproofing or City Soundproofing in Manhattan.

Image: Brooklyn Insulation
Image: Brooklyn Insulation

#3 The quick fix: White noise

How does adding more noise to the equation work? Generally speaking, it isn’t the noise itself that keeps you awake or wakes you up during the night, but rather sudden changes in the consistency of noise that jar you awake. White noise creates a masking effect, evening out sudden changes and helping you sleep more comfortably. You can find an interesting read on White Noise by Marpac here

While there are plenty of apps on the market for white noise, a simple table fan will suffice. The hum of a window-unit air conditioner also works great – and will keep you at a comfortable temperature at the same time! 

Image: Marpac
Image: Marpac

Neighborhood etiquette: 3 tips for being a good neighbor this holiday party season

The holiday party season is one of the busiest times of year – you’ve got presents to wrap, dinners to plan and family and friends to cater for. But while you’re caught up in the events happening inside your house or apartment, do you ever stop to think about your neighbors and keeping the people outside of your apartment happy too?

Try these 3 simple steps to ensure you’re a good neighbor this party season.

#1 Provide a little warning

1elehOnce you’ve gotten the word out and invited your friends through Paperless Post or other organizer-friendly apps, it’s time to warn your neighbors too. You might like to include details on the time and size of the event. Your neighbors will likely be more comfortable with the whole scenario knowing you’ve taken them into consideration too, helping resolve issues before they even arise.

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#2 Be reasonable about the noise and the hour

While this might seem like a no-brainer, it’s easy to get caught up in the festivities of the night and forget the time and just how noisy you’re being. Most co-ops have a no-noise rule after 10pm, but given it’s the holidays, your neighbors are likely to be a little more flexible.

As a general rule, try and turn things down after midnight. If you have guests moving out onto a terrace or balcony, remember that voices tend to travel quite easily outside too, so it’s not just your neighbors you’ll need to consider!

taskrabbit-logoWhile we’re on the topic of time, you might like to think about timeliness too. If you’re in need of a little extra assistance for setting up or packing down, you might like to consider enlisting a little help to make sure things run smoothly. There are plenty of options for help. For example, you could hire an assistant from Task Rabbit to help keep you on track with setting up, during the event –keeping glasses filled, getting more ice, putting food out, and packing down – emptying the rubbish, cleaning up etc.

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#3 Contain your party

If you’re throwing a party, your neighbors will be thankful if it stays exactly that – yours. Keeping everything from your decorations to your guests and their belongings inside will help to ensure you’re not blocking the hallways and stairwells or cluttering common spaces.

It can be as easy as having a coat stand and shoe rack inside by the front door for guests to leave their belongings on. While you’re at the front door, you might also like to hang a “please close the door behind you” sign for your guests, to help keep the noise inside.klean-freaks

Containing your party extends to the day after too! Don’t forget to clean up both inside and outside your apartment – checking that the hallways and common areas are left as they were prior to your party. You can always enlist the help of cleaner like Klean Freaks to make the task even easier!

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Date night? 3 evening childcare services in Brooklyn

So you’re planning a romantic date night with your other half? Unfortunately, when you’ve got children, date night isn’t just about the two of you anymore, is it? Every great date night requires peace of mind knowing you’ve secured safe, reliable evening care for your little ones at an affordable price. And as a quick Google search will tell you, that’s no easy feet!

That’s why we’ve shortlisted 3 evening drop-off childcare services in Brooklyn, so you don’t have to miss out on your next date night.

brooklyn-childcare-map

#1 The Parent-Free Pajama Party

Brooklyn Explorers Academy – Brooklyn Heights

brooklyn-explorers-academyEvery Friday evening, 6-9pm (excluding holidays), Brooklyn Explorers Academy host their parent-free pajama party, with dinner in the main room followed by a child-friendly film showing in the library upstairs. Caring for children ages 2+, Brooklyn Explorers Academy recommends advance registration to secure a spot.

$20 per child

$10 per additional sibling

 

#2 Kidville Park Slope Drop Off Pajama Party

Project Play Date – Park Slope

pj_party_product_7_1024x1024Similar to BEA’s parent-free pajama party, Project Play Date offers a three-hour kids-only party, every third Friday of the month. From 6.30pm-9.30pm they’ll enjoy an evening of activities including dinner, arts and crafts, story time, dance time and movie time!

While the extra activities do come with a slightly higher price tag, you can RSVP via the website for a $20 trial deal.

$60 per child

$40 per sibling

 

#3 Kid’s Night Out (a.k.a. Parent’s Night Out)

Ms. J’s Gymnastics and Dance – Williamsburg

ms-jsSaturday evenings never sounded more fun! Kid’s Night Out at Ms. J’s, for children ages 3+, includes pizza dinner, play time on the big trampoline, learning tumbles across the floor and a range of balance, flexibility and social exercises. It’s safe to say the kids will probably be ready for bed time by the time you come back to collect them!

$40 per child (members)

$5 discount for siblings

Brooklyn Comfort Foods

Sometimes when the temperature drops, your spirits do too. While you might want to stay inside and hibernate all winter, we’ve found some delicious foods throughout Brooklyn that will entice you to leave your apartment and warm you right up.

 

peter-sHearty Home-Cooking
You could’ve fooled us, we think Peter has been doing chicken way before 1969, if not before the egg. Peter’s Since 1969 is back to basics, comfort food in a casual, family style setting. Named after the former Williamsburg tenant, Peter Kuper of B & B Meat Market, who ran the neighborhood butcher shop with his wife Lucy since 1969, the new Rotisserie Chicken concept was born in the location in 2007. The herb-marinated chicken roasts and self-bastes over an open flame, resulting in the perfect crispness on the outside and soft, juicy tenderness within. Humble, filing sides like mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, stewed okra and green beans are served out of Le Creuset cast iron pots. Chicken and two sides will set you back between $10-$15.
168 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg.

 

Soothing Slicesdifarapizza_t700
We have to be honest, there won’t be anything comforting about the wait, but the reward will certainly be worth it. For over 50 years, Di Fara has been plating up perfect pies in Midwood. With a no-frills reputation, Anthony Bourdain once proclaimed this spot to be “the best of the best”, which is why you can expect to be waiting in line a while for your iconic, thin-crust slice. For almost five decades owner Dom DeMarco insisted on making every single legendary and delicious pie by himself, slowly, but methodically. He now shares the responsibility with his sons. At $5 a slice, you can bet that this pizza, made from scratch with the best, imported ingredients will be exceptional.
424 Avenue J, Midwood.

 

starMeat an Unbeatable Burger
When a pizza place is known for having a burger on the menu, you know it is going to be something special. Emily in Clinton Hill is an intimate pizza restaurant serving up an overwhelming selection of creative pies, however, the real standout is the critically-acclaimed Emmy Burger. The Emmy Burger features a dry-aged patty which is quickly seared in clarified butter then showered in black pepper before being topped with rich melted Vermont cheddar, sweet caramelized onions and a house-made aioli sauce inside of a sturdy pretzel bun. A limited amount of burgers are served every night so head here on a Sunday for lunch when the burgers are plentiful and unforgettable.
919 Fulton Street, Clinton Hill.

 

Superstar Startermac
Mac and cheese might just be the ultimate comfort food. Creamy, crunchy and carbolicious. The Brooklyn Star serves New American cuisine with a nod to the traditions and style of the South and Southwest. Quintessential to a Southern-style menu is of course, mac and cheese. An all-time favorite at the Star, served in a cozy cast iron skillet, this mac is superior to many macs, with its game-changing ingredient, bacon. This mac and cheese is meaty from the bacon bits, rich from the generous cheese and crispy from the buttery breadcrumbs. Served at brunch or dinner for $9, you will be thinking about the taste and texture of this meal long after the weather is warm again.
593 Lorimer Street, Williamsburg.