Best Neighborhood for Experiencing the Old Brooklyn
One of us grew up in Brooklyn—in Bay Ridge—and when that editor thinks about how the borough has changed, he doesn’t start cursing “the hipsters” or worrying about how some people like to eat different foods than his grandparents did. Instead, he remembers how working-class neighborhoods used to feel different. “The roughness-around-the-edges for which Brooklyn was once known—not from poverty, abandonment or crime but from a resolute working-classness,” he once described it. “What I mean is the details: the texture of walls, the attitude of eaves, the paving of streets.” He says Bensonhurst still feels like this, a place where not every neighborhood-specific storefront occupier (like an Italian record store!) has been turned into a bank or a chain store—where people still tinker in yards and driveways, where corners still smell like sawdust, where murals are allowed to fade, where timeworn and tattered flags still fly over stoops, where a sense of history hasn’t been erased by corporate development. It’s often unpainted, unsanded, unpatched. As such, it feels less like a place preserved than a wormhole into the past. If you ever actually traveled back in time, what would shock you immediately wouldn’t just be the change in aesthetics—it’d also be the sounds, smells, the ineffable feeling in the air. That’s what gets you here.