Goodbye, Brooklyn Heights: 33 Things I’ll Miss About the ‘Hood

BHB Guest post By Whitney Matheson

This week I’m packing up the cozy Brooklyn Heights apartment I’ve called home for the last six years. Though I’m incredibly excited about the changes ahead – I got a job teaching journalism in Tennessee – I’m sad to leave the neighborhood I’ve grown to love so much.

The people, places and personality of Brooklyn Heights will occupy a chunk of my heart for many years to come. As a writer and longtime reader of this blog, I didn’t want to leave town without paying tribute.
In no particular order, here are a few things I’ll miss about living here:

1. The wealth of subway options. I love seeing the amazed, envious looks on friends’ faces when I reel off how many train lines I can walk to from my apartment.

2. Gabriel Mayers, busker extraordinaire. Speaking of the subway, Mayers’ vocal and ukulele skills make a long wait for the R train worthwhile.

3. Gregory, the Key Food mannequin. I’ve probably snapped 30 photos of Gregory’s frequent wardrobe changes. He’s like our resident Cher.

4. Current celebrity neighbors. I always get a kick out of seeing famous faces at Henry Public, Tazza or where have you; no matter how hard I tried, though, I never did manage to run into Bjork (and you’d think she’d be super-easy to spot).

5. Past celebrity neighbors. From Mailer to McCullers to Capote to Whitman, it’s a thrill and an honor to roam the same streets as some of my literary heroes.

6. The koi pond at the corner of Joralemon and Henry streets. Those fish offer me a sliver of peace on my walk to the train (or, god forbid, the post office).

7. Vegetarian Ginger’s lightning-speed delivery. Our go-to takeout spot has convinced several visiting relatives that, whoa, tofu can actually be pretty tasty.

8. Three Two local movie theaters. I have fond memories of seeing Woody Allen flicks at Cobble Hill Cinemas and the old Brooklyn Heights Cinema. (Also memorable: attending a rambunctious midnight showing of Bruno at the Court Street theater.)

9. Atlantic Antic, Willowtown Fair, Cranberry Street Fair … ‘Round these parts, virtually every street gets its own celebration. Bring on the baked goods and bouncy castles!

10. The Brooklyn Women’s Exchange. I think almost everyone in my family has received a gift from this spot, which has been around for a whopping 160 years. Their Brooklyn Heights calendar adorns my fridge year-round.

11. Saturdays at the Farmer’s Market. Special thanks to Millport Dairy guys for the limitless cheese samples.

12. Sundays at Smorgasburg. Only here can I convince myself that pigs in a blanket are an artisanal delicacy.

13. Arecibo’s “five-minute” arrivals. I’m especially grateful for the kind (albeit slightly nervous) driver who got us to the hospital when I was in labor —and the other Arecibo driver who took myself, my husband and our newborn daughter home two days later.

14. The annual Window Concert at State and Henry. The sweet scene – piano students playing tunes as passersby listen and applaud – is one of those things you can only find in Brooklyn.

15. Lassen’s red velvet cupcakes. So-so day = mini-cupcake. Really rough day = really large cupcake.

16. Halloween. No neighborhood does it better.

17. The low ATM fee at the Clark Street 2/3 station. Hey, $1.75 ain’t bad.

18. The New York Kids Club. I love everything about the Kids Club – more importantly, so does my daughter – but I’ll admit I get especially psyched when they throw a party that includes wine and cheese for the grownups.

19. Cathy Fitzsimmons’ garden. Stroll down the cobblestone block of Joralemon Street between Hicks and Willow, and you can’t miss her outdoor oasis, complete with a cabinet of fake bird sounds.

20. The mysterious subway building on Joralemon. If you’re super-nice to the construction workers, they just might let you inside. (Don’t tell anyone I said that, though.)

21. Breakfast at Teresa’s. It’s affordable, kid-friendly and they have pierogi. I couldn’t ask for more.

22. Neighborhood movie shoots. Maybe if I owned a car I’d feel differently, but I enjoy stumbling across a period piece or indie flick on my way to buy mouthwash at CVS.

23. Barnes and Noble’s mysterious DJ. Seriously, have you ever noticed the music piped through the Court Street location? From vintage R.E.M. to rare Beatles tracks, it’s usually miles better than it needs to be.

24. Floral Heights’ “Free flower if your name is x!” board. Each week I check to see if it’s my turn yet. My daughter’s name came up once, and the owner happily gave her a rose – even though she was only eight months old.

25. The staff at Waterfront Wines & Spirits. Bless those guys for treating my novice requests (“Um, it needs to be cold, have a screw-off top and appeal to my mother-in-law …”) with total seriousness.

26. Delicious Mediterranean food. From Fatoosh to Sahadi’s to Damascus, I’m never at a loss for good hummus.

27. Swing Alley. I first pushed my daughter in a swing here, and we’ve spent many happy hours at the Alley since.

28. Vineapple. When I lost my job and needed a place to work on finding another one, this cool coffee shop became my temporary office. The pesto-cheddar sandwiches taste like freedom.

29. Pedicures at Choi’s Art Nails. A few weeks after my daughter was born and I was so tired I barely remembered my name, my husband gave me a gift certificate to Choi’s and sent me out the door. It was just the therapy I needed.

30. Our nearby Airbnb host. Props to the guy two blocks away who has let my parents stay at his apartment several times over the years (at a discount).

31. Stoop freebies. I’ve scored some excellent books during my weekend walks (and have tried to pay it forward by giving away a bunch myself).

32. The view from the Promenade. Come on, did you think I’d get to the end of this list without a Promenade reference? It’s the cherry atop the Heights sundae.

33. My friendly neighbors. Last but not least, I’ll miss all of the local folks I’ve met over the years – and so many of you whose names I don’t even know. From those who’ve retrieved my daughter’s lost shoes to the LICH ambulance drivers who carried me down two flights of stairs (long story), you’ve made me feel so happy, welcome and cared for. Thank you.

Whitney Matheson (@whitneymatheson) is a pop-culture writer and mother. In 2015 she will serve as the journalist in residence at Middle Tennessee State University.

Publisher’s Note: We’ve been fans of Whitney for years and it came as a pleasant surprise that she’s been a long time reader of BHB and chose us for her farewell to the Heights. Bummer that she’s leaving the neighborhood but MTSU students are super lucky to have her there.

Photo: Jason Travis

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  • ClaudeScales

    Thank you, Ms. Matheson, for this charming reminder of all the things I also love about the Heights. and for giving prominent mention to the Brooklyn Women’s Exchange, where my wife has served as a volunteer. I hope Murfreesboro holds some pleasant surprises for you.

  • Muffins and Waffles

    What a great post! Thank you Whitney and good luck in TN. You’re lucky you will not be far from Nashville – one of my all time favorite places (outside of BK Heights).

  • ColumbiaHeightster

    Wow. That was awesome – you’re making me sentimental for a place that I still live in! We’ve never met, but I’m sad to see a good neighbor go. Thanks for sharing your great list. The Heights will miss you.

  • CassieVonMontague

    This is a great list for someone leaving after living here for six years, but I’d like to see the list of someone leaving after living here for 25 years.

  • MonroeOrange

    we don’t leave after 25 years…me included…

  • Brooklyn Born

    More than a dozen years ago I put my name on the list for affordable housing in Chelsea and I actually got it. So after 25 years of living in the heights I’ve moved to the city. Do I miss it yes, but it was too good a deal to pass up.

  • Monty

    I think you mean Swing Valley.

  • David on Middagh

    “23. Barnes and Noble’s mysterious DJ.”

    Oh, this is true! I remember where I was—the magazine section—when a unique “Get Back” cover started wafting from the ceiling. It was Al Green…

  • Hicksanthrope

    I didn’t want to like this post… but I do.

  • BrooklynCoffeeLover

    Great post!!

  • William F.

    1,3,4,5,6,8,9,11,12,14,15,16,20 most definitely, 21,22,23,26,31,32,33 I love the quiet streets at night seconds from downtown Manhattan, The Brooklyn Bridge, Governor’s Island, The East River Ferry, The ‘Beach’ in DUMBO, Smith Street, and the numerous EMPTY taxis cabs heading back into Manhattan traveling Clinton Street. Beautiful Post…Bill Flounoy

  • lauren

    Thank you for sharing this! All the best to you in your new home!