Observer: Brooklyn Heights Wants to be Upper West Side

Very few news stories make me throw up in my mouth a little but congratulations NY Observer… you’ve done it!:

NY Observer: BROOKLYN HEIGHTS IS TRYING, at least, to be the Upper West Side of Brooklyn. It has all of the Manhattan neighborhood’s upscale domesticity, infused with a Brooklyn edge. Parents here are affluent, and militant about their children.

In a $1.265 million two-bedroom at 360 Furman Street (or One Brooklyn Bridge Park), John Mackey, 36, and his wife laughed in awe at the view of the East River and Manhattan. The building, a new development whose sales started in 2007, faces a series of piers, the future site of Brooklyn Bridge Park, which will include a dog run, soccer fields and playgrounds.

Mr. Mackey and his wife, who wouldn’t give her name, are moving back to New York City after “two long years in Texas.” They used to live, incidentally, on the Upper West Side. Brooklyn Heights is the first area where they’ve looked, and they expect it will be the last.

“When you live in the Upper West Side, it’s like, ‘Why would we go to Brooklyn?'” Mr. Mackey said. “But when you come here…” He trailed off: his point was self-evident.

His wife added that Brooklyn Heights shares a vibe with the Upper West Side. “It has that same kind of leafy street feel,” she said.

So what do you think?

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  • my2cents

    I always say to friends that the Heights is just like the West Village, but without the tourists, and with (almost) no gay culture.

  • EHinBH

    It’s not like the City, but is the next best thing. The article is good publicity for the area though…

  • bklynnate

    Just, No.

  • adam

    Not at all. I work in the upper west and live in the Heights.

  • Teddy

    As a native I always felt that the Heights felt more like the Upper East Side, just nicer.

  • nabeguy

    Actually, I think the the UWS would LOVE to be Brooklyn Heights.

  • GHB

    Brooklyn Heights can SO beat up the UWS!

  • Quinn Raymond

    The Observer seems to pride itself on writing incendiary fluff about certain neighborhoods. They did one on the Lower East Side a few months ago that was even sillier. I think it’s all about upping their page views or something.

    The article’s central thesis seems to be that Brooklyn Heights is the place for young socially climbing families. In regards to the assertion that our neighborhood has some kind of new-found socio-economic and child-rearing aspirations, one wonders if perhaps the article was written in the 1830’s. Brooklyn Heights is Brooklyn Heights– every neighborhood is unique. Although for what it’s worth I would argue that the area has a lot more in common architecturally and planning-wise with the West Village that the UWS (low-rise brownstones, limited thru-streets, streets with names instead of numbers, etc…)

    Furthermore, similar to the West Village, I would argue that the area is more centrally located than the UWS (not a value judgement), and developed as its own village– separate from the rest of New Amsterdam. In comparison, the UWS grid is very much defined by the long, regular blocks of Commissioners’ Plan of 1807-1811.

    What do these differences in history and urban planning have on the respective long-term cultures of these neighborhoods? I have no idea. But if the Observer is going to waste our time with this real estate pabulum, why not get in on the fun as well?

  • nabeguy

    Interesting points Quinn. In 1807, the UWS was a forest while Clover Hill (the original name of the Heights) was a village. And anybody who has walked the serpentine path of Fulton Street knows that it’s certainly off the grid, and is more of a trail defined by topography, not engineering.

  • WillowtownCop

    I lived on the UWS for a couple of years in the 90s when I first moved to NY. The restaurants are even worse than ours.

  • ashton

    there are lovelier rows of brownstones in the Upper West Side, so beautiful they make our houses look rather plain, and they have much swankier apartment buildings with more celebs and fashionistas. They also have the Natural History Museum and the NY Historical Society, oh, and Central Park, and Riverside Park…. Brooklyn Heights is more compact, more modest, but there are similarities. The wealth factor however is so overwhelming in the UWS that it makes us seem affordable.
    You can’t find a place to park to save your life in either place. There we are equals.

  • jorale-man

    I moved to the Heights after living on the UWS for more than a decade. I agree, the two areas do have their similarities – both family-oriented, residential, leafy. But the smaller scale of the streets and buildings in the Heights makes for a more relaxed, slightly friendlier vibe overall. The avenues on the UWS are frequently congested with traffic and the area has a more commercial feel, especially around Lincoln Center.

    And I agree, the comparison to the West Village is probably most accurate, although the restaurants are better there, alas.

  • Demonter

    Brooklyn Heights has the best feel of “Old New York” in the City. Not even the West Village can match the charm and sense of place of the Heights. The view from the Promenade is second to none.

  • AEB

    Having gown up on the Upper West Side (when it was wild and woolly), and having lived there until I moved to BH several years ago, I believe that the two nabes share a mature, upscale demographic and a large brownstone “population.”

    But the UWS, in which commercial amenities abound, is a throbbing metropolis compared with BH, which is a bit of (lovely) suburbia in NYC.

    And, if I may so so, as far as gestalt goes, BH and the West Village have nothing in common. The West Village, though no longer gay-bohemian, or anything-bohemian, and despite the gentrifiers, still has the excitement of a sexualized, youthful edginess. It has the “moreness” and “particularity” that one comes to NYC to enjoy, which mean that there are a wealth of interesting things to DO there.

    Alas, hardly so in BH.

  • nabeguy

    The real question is…does the UWS have Great Wall? I rest my case.

  • AEB

    …or Mafooki Properties….

  • Arch Stanton

    Brooklyn Heights is Like no other place, no other place is like the Heights.

  • Daniela G.

    The fact is that Brooklyn Heights is really much more pleasant with a small village feel, harbor views, and all the subways converging to all points of the city. than the Upper West Side of Manhattan. THE HEIGHTS is more convenient than the Upper West Side, and our gardens are better kept, our Brownstones better groomed, plus we have a library, shopping, the ethnic variety stores of Atlantic Ave., a post office, and the marvelous Promenade with its spectacular visitas. I’ve lived in Brooklyn Heights for over 43 years, and there is no neighborhood nicer in the entire city, but let me stop here as who needs more residents moving in. It troubles me that all the tourists converge here on weekends, that big new highrise condos were built on Montague St. to overcrowd it, and it bothers me that we are used all too often as a movie set, but our neighborhood doesn’t derive the benefits of revenue from those movie vans and trailers and actors taking up our neighborhood. The revenue goes to the city, in general, even though we have to suffer the use of our streets and sidewalks more often than other neighborhoods. What really made me angry was having a His and Hers Port-a-john for the crew of a street movie set parked right in front of my coop apt. front entrance. Do we pay taxes to have our neighborhood become a restroom for actors who play in stupid sit-coms and violent and mysteries. That makes me angry. I’m not in the least star-strick by Hollywood or television nonsense, compared to liking the beauty and peace of my neighborhood. If we are going to suffer all these movie sets, our neighborhood ought to reap more of the monetary rewards from the inconvenience of having these sets and crews confiscate our streets and our parking. Don’t you Heights residents agree? Let’s start a little revolution on this point! Write the mayor’s office about it. Either we ought to bet more of the revenue, or the use of our neighborhood should be prohibited to so many movie crews. Is there a limit to how many we must suffer per year?

  • Ben

    Daniela G,
    I have seen a guy who lives on Montague Terrace shake down movie location crews for money and he had the trees on Montague Terrace prunned with some if it, the rest of the cash probably goes into his pocket.

  • Arch Stanton

    Daniela G.,
    I totally agree with your post especially on the subject of film crews… The city should limit the number of days per year a film permit can be issued in a given area. Currently, I don’t think there is any limit. The excessive media production going on here definitely detracts from the quality of life… I’ll join your revolution…

    I think I stopped being excited about movies being shot here when I was like 15….

  • nabeguy

    With any luck, the Observer article might convince film companies that the UWS has one distinct advantage over the Heights…better locations.
    Ben, who was that guy? He should be running the BHA.

  • my2cents

    I am not at all against movies being filmed here, but I wish they were movies that really used the heights as a LOCATION rather then a Backdrop or worse– a Substitute. It was cool having “burn after reading” filmed here except when we found out that we were being used as a fake Georgetown. And most of the TV shows filmed here just use our hood as a stock backdrop. I think it’d be great to see a movie made here that really features the neighborhood as a real place. The mayor’s office couldn’t care less what the homeowners think, by the way. Bloomberg has made filming in NYC one of the priorities in his reign.

  • EHinBH

    “…have a library, shopping, the ethnic variety stores of Atlantic Ave., a post office, and the marvelous Promenade…”

    Um, I think the UWS has an amazing library (ours is horrific), shopping that is waaaaay better (are you kidding — Banana Republic and CVS?) , a post office, and well, maybe they do not have a Promenade, but they have CENTRAL PARK. I’m all for loving BH, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

  • nabeguy

    my2, I share your frustration. Any thoughts on what producers/location scouts see the Heights being in terms of a backdrop? Given how unique the nabe is, what exactly is it a substitute for? The last film of note that I can remember being filmed in Georgetown was The Exorcist. Although the Heights has its own history in that particular field

  • jorale-man

    Re. UWS vs. BH, it really depends what you’re looking for in a neighborhood. Shopping options in the Heights may not be as extensive as the UWS but when you factor in Dumbo, Cobble Hill and Carrol Gardens (which is a similar physical size), I’d say it is fairly comparable.

    More importantly, I find the Heights properties are better maintained and the area is cleaner as a whole. I used to live in the high 90s off Broadway and the area had a lot of shabby tenements, SRO’s and trash on the streets. I love the UWS for its vitality and diversity but the Heights has a real neighborhood feeling that many neighborhoods lack.

  • nabeguy

    I lived on 97th and West End and to me the major difference between the two is scale. The UWS was built according to an imposed grid that incorporates European approach to streets and avenues. The Heights has more a a colonial “village” vibe to it, with geography that is as haphazard as the original farming properties that delineated it’s borders.
    The comparisons that have been made to the West Village seem the most appropiate, given that they both saw a huge surge in growth during the 1820’s, as businessmen from the downtown commercial and financial districts looked beyond the wall for more amenable abodes.

  • Arch Stanton

    I agree, the “vibe” in the Heights is completely different from the UWS… and the West Village is the closest, but I still think different.
    The article is ridiculous anyway as a neighborhood is not a sentient being and cannot “want to be” anything… True, the Heights has changed much over the years, as most neighborhoods change. Back in the 70’s the Heights was much more socially & economically diverse; running the gamut from poor to wealthy with a strong gay-bohemian presence. Alas, the economic tides have washed out a lot of the diversity, leaving a mostly upper middle class / professional, population…