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Dear Travellers to Brooklyn: Please Don't Come Until You've Understood These 5 Things

New York City
by Jasmine Caceres Jul 31, 2017

Brooklyn is huge.

Brooklyn is larger than some visitor guides may lead you to believe. Many “guides to Brooklyn” will tip you off to every farm-to-table restaurant in Dumbo and make a quick mention of Coney Island, but mistakenly leave out the dozens of neighborhoods and locations that really make Brooklyn what it is; from the Bed-Stuy Historic District, which at one point was home to legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson and former boxer Mike Tyson, to Brooklyn Heights, which is filled with many homes built prior to the Civil War.

Brooklyn is not ” The New Manhattan”.

Over the last few years, Brooklyn has taken on an array of unwelcome nicknames from “The New Manhattan” to “Little Manhattan.” While Downtown Brooklyn is steadily becoming filled with high-rise buildings and businesses, Brooklyn has an identity completely different from that other borough. Brooklyn natives understand that while innovation and development are generally positive, there are often many negative side effects that follow, such as rising rents, the failure of small businesses, and the forced relocation of working-class families who well may have been here for generations.
To counter-act “New Manhattanitis” when you visit Brooklyn, support local businesses, which benefit visitors and residents. You’re likely to find a better tasting cup of coffee at the local deli than at any popular chain location — no matter how trendy.

There is a big difference between Brooklyn and too many literary and media portrayals of Brooklyn.

There are more than a few depictions of Brooklyn that would make a real Brooklynite roll his or her eyes. If you’re coming in search of the Brooklyn you’ve seen in films and television, which often portray the borough as crime ridden and mafia-centric, you’re likely to be let down. Whether it’s portrayed as that, or the new, edgy home to a fashionista who moved to Brooklyn with big city dreams, these films fail to depict or account for Brooklyn as a whole. In reality, Brooklyn is none of these stereotypes, and every stereotype at the same time; and each neighborhood and region has its own unique history, culture, and identity.

Brooklyn is not an “edgy” alternative to Manhattan.

I’ve often heard from friends who are new to the borough that they preferred Brooklyn to Manhattan, due to its edginess and quirkiness. While it’s great that Brooklyn is now more openly recognized for its unique personality, many companies in an attempt to lure “the hip” often end up turning Brooklyn into a parody of itself. Drinking a two dollar 40 oz. beer on a warm summer night with your pals, while enjoying the view from your stoop, is simply normal fun. But imagine my surprise when a friend told me about a bar offering a “40 oz. in a paper bag” for fourteen dollars.

Brooklyn is built on a history of immigration.

Many of my friends, and I, are fourth to sixth generation Americans whose families immigrated to Brooklyn from various countries around the globe. When Brooklyn natives proclaim that they are from Brooklyn, they often are Brooklyn for generations. In fact, from 1840-1845 Brooklyn’s population doubled to almost 80,000 and was one of the main destinations for Irish fleeing the Great Famine. The wave of cultures shows up in our diverse population, neighborhoods, authentic restaurant cuisines, and our historic attractions.

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