Living in Boerum Hill/Cobble Hill

Boerum Hill and Cobble Hill are neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Along with Carroll Gardens, these three neighborhoods are known by some as BoCoCa. The neighborhood was made famous by Jonathan Lethem, a local writer, who set both of his books (Fortress of Solitude and Motherless Brooklyn, a National Book Critics Circle Award winner) there. Together, Boerum Hill and Cobble Hill extend from Atlantic Avenue to the North, Warren Street to the South, 4th Avenue to the East, and Clinton Street to the West, and are bordered by Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn to the North, Carroll Gardens to the South and Park Slope to the East. The neighborhood is a mix of single-family brownstones, brownstones that have been converted into multifamily housing, and small walk-ups, no taller than six stories high.

Housing

Real estate prices vary. There are plenty of rental housing options in the neighborhood listed on craigslist.com, with a typical two bedroom going for between $2000 and $2500 a month, depending on the part of the neighborhood, the building, and whether or not the apartment has been renovated. Cheaper apartments can be found, but not for under $1800 for a two-bedroom. One-bedrooms run around $1200-$1500 a month, so the more people you choose to live with, the cheaper rent you are going to pay. The New York Times Real Estate section is a good place to look for homes for sale. Brownstone prices are generally above 2 million dollars, though in this economy, people are willing to sell their homes at far lower than their asking price.

People

Boerum Hill and Cobble Hill are best considered together, as a single neighborhood representative of both the old and the new Brooklyn , with a recently revived restaurant scene, young yuppies, upper middle class families, and remnants of a working-class, ethnic neighborhood.

Safety

This neighborhood has undergone a fast and recent gentrification. Mixed in with stunning well-kept brownstones, one of which recently housed Michelle Williams and the late Heath Ledger, are two housing projects, a larger one (Wyckoff Gardens) and a smaller one (Gowanus Gardens), both east of Smith Street, occupying space on Wyckoff Street and South of there. Despite the presence of public housing, which make certain blocks feel slightly less well-kept, the neighborhood feels safe at any time of the day and night, and the crime rate is relatively low.

Parks and Recreation

Perhaps the biggest drawback of the neighborhood is that most of the green spaces are long walks (or runs) away. Prospect Park is nearly two miles to the East, and the Brooklyn Promenade, which runs along the East River , is a good mile to the West. Still, these are relatively short runs or bike rides away, and the neighborhood has a very nice New York Sports Club on the corner of Boerum Place and Pacific Street for those who need a gym.

Pubs, Clubs and Entertainment

Smith Street has some great bars for every occasion - Angry Wades (on Smith and Butler ) for Sports, Ceol (on Smith and Warren) for Guinness, French fries, and Irish Music, and Boat (on Smith and Wyckoff ) for dancing, as well as others.

Shopping and Eating

Smith Street is known these days as Brooklyn's restaurant row, and is representative of the growing food culture in Brooklyn and New York City as a whole. There are a number of pricey and fancy restaurants, whose praises have been sung by restaurant critics (Saul, Grocery, and Chestnut, to name a few, all on Smith Street ). But the neighborhood is best for cheap eats, which reflect the neighborhood's ethnic diversity. On Court Street, there's Joya, a great Thai restaurant with excellent Pad Thai for $6.95. Bar Tabac, a French restaurant, has excellent frites and is good for late night socializing, especially in the summer, because they have live music and outdoor seating. There are delicious and cheap Middle Eastern restaurants along Atlantic Avenue , both East and West of Court Street. Bedouin Tent, on Atlantic Ave and Bond Street is particularly good. Mixed in with the Middle Eastern restaurants are a handful of affordable bare-bones soul food joints, like the Soul Spot, on Atlantic Avenue , between Smith Street and State Street , good for quick sit down meals, or take-out dinners.

There's a MET supermarket to do basic grocery shopping on Smith Street between Baltic and Warren Street , with a dried goods, meat and dairy sections. A Trader Joe's has recently opened on Court Street and Atlantic, which is always good for store brand cereal and crackers, cheap pasta and sauce and prepared foods, but for produce and specialty cheeses, the neighborhood is best served by Pacific Green, a green grocer on Court Street and Pacific Street. The produce is fresh and seasonal, and the cheese is delicious. Though the quality is high, the prices are very affordable. Also worth knowing about is Paisanos, the neighborhood butcher on Smith Street and Wyckoff Street, which sells fresh cut meat as well as some prepared food and fresh pasta. The shop is small and always crowded, but the butchers are knowledgeable and always willing to give you a free taste-test of the meat. Sahadis, on Atlantic Avenue between Court and Clinton street, is a colorful and delicious-smelling Middle Eastern store that has excellent hummus, cheap nuts, and a variety of exotic spices.

The neighborhood still has its plethora of small, locally-owned stores and boutiques. Book Court, a neighborhood bookstore on Court Street between Dean and Pacific streets, has been there since 1981, and holding its own against a Barnes and Noble, three blocks away, since 1999. Book Court is cozy and its staff is pleasant and always willing to make a recommendation. They also occasionally have readings and panels, hosted on weekday evenings.

Transportation

Access to public transportation is a perk of living in Boerum Hill and Cobble Hill. The neighborhood is within a 10-minute walk of virtually every train line, with the F running along Smith Street , the 2/3/4/5/M and R trains passing through Borough Hall and A/C coming the Jay Street . From these stops, it's about a 15-minute train ride into lower Manhattan and takes less than half an hour to get to midtown. The neighborhood is also relatively close to Atlantic-Pacific, a train station that is serviced by the Long Island Railroad, a commuter train line.

Good Points

  • cheap and diverse cuisine
  • relatively affordable housing
  • access to public transportation

Bad Points

  • lack of green space
  • gentrification which has made rents rise fast

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Living in New York | ©2017 Kirsty Henderson