The Brooklyn Way
by Kristy Mandour
Brooklyn. Whether you’ve been there or not, there is most likely at least one thought, “Fuhgeddaboudit” or idea, The Brooklyn Bridge, that pops into your mind when someone says: “Brooklyn.” Nowadays the richness of its core culture often seems overshadowed by talk of “the transplants.” You know what I’m talking about: the influx of “hipsters” that have taken over Williamsburg, the invasion of the “stroller mommies” in Park Slope, or the newbie-college graduates who don’t know why but HAVE to move to Brooklyn because Cousin Sam in Atlanta said it was “dope.” But if you take the time to weed through the pop up book of coffee shops, natural food markets, and flavor of the month cocktail lounges, what will materialize in this clearing is the ultimate essence of what makes Brooklyn a standout not just for New York City, but also for the country as a whole.
With 2,567,098 (and counting) people living in Brooklyn, it is well established as being the most populated of all five boroughs. What’s the draw? For starters, with 93 different ethnic groups, 150 nationalities, and 136 different languages, this ethnic enclave sets itself apart as being a cultural Mecca for well…the whole world. Understandably, Brooklyn’s slogan on its seal and flag reads: “Een Draght Mackt Maght,” which in the old Dutch language translates to: In Unity There Is Strength. Walking down the street, whether you’re in the neighborhood of Fort Greene, Bay Side, or Green Point, to name a few, chances are you won’t hear the same language twice. You’ll smell fresh babka being baked and knishes being served. You’ll see neighbors gathered on apartment stoops catching up with one another, having a “wallear” or an uncontrollable jones for a calzone or watching kids running through the water sprays of the johnny pump, otherwise known as a fire hydrant!
You may even experience déjà vu and with good reason: many artists created work from their impressions of Brooklyn. Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows In Brookyn, Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge are all Brooklyn based. Take a stroll through the Italian neighborhood of Bay Ridge and you may want to hum the Bee Gee’s and find a hipper groove to your step, seeing as how this is where Saturday Night Fever took place. Filmmaker Spike Lee is pro-Brooklyn, not only shooting his films in Brooklyn, but also going so far as to help Absolut vodka create a limited edition Absolut Brooklyn as an “ode to the stoop he grew up on.” If you’re a fan of hip-hop you’ve probably heard shout outs to “Bed Stuy” in some of your favorite songs. The neighborhood of Bedford Stuyvesant, often referred to as “Bed Stuy” is the African American culture hub often referenced in hip-hop and African American arts. Speaking of the arts in Brooklyn, The Brooklyn Museum of Art is home to the 2nd largest art collection in the world. Moving west, to Clinton Hill, you’ll find the renowned Brooklyn Academy of Music, the oldest continually performing arts center in the country as well as the acclaimed Pratt Institute.
So if you’re a “foodie,” art enthusiast, music aficionado, or history buff, you’ll find endless entertainment in Brooklyn! Get in on the Brooklyn buzz by joining ArtsEmerson for In the Footprint: The Battle Over Atlantic Yards.