I watch a number of the local TV shows such as “$9.99” and “Cool in Your Code” that detail interesting areas around NYC. Brooklyn is a subject in a lot of these shows and they tend to call every area that they are reviewing a new sort of hipster haven. And it seems to be true. New Yorkers are always looking for the new and the unique. And that tends to mean artists, restaurants, and nightclubs. Recent times appear to have really driven out the artists from Manhattan and they keep moving to Brooklyn (and I’d be remiss not to mention that some of them go to The Bronx, too). Brooklyn’s big and sprawling, but the attractive areas tend to be near the East River. I’ve mentioned places like Park Slope (not particularly near the East River), Brooklyn Heights (right there), and Williamsburg are all those sorts of places. But, I’ve also been aware of another area: Smith Street. Technically, it isn’t an area at all. Instead, it’s a street that seems to go through three significant neighborhoods and all three are on the “cool” radar: Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, and Carroll Gardens (also known as the BoCoCa district). The odd thing is that I seem to spot “Smith Street” mentioned all over the place, but the BoCoCa area is thrown in almost as an afterthought. Well….not that extreme. I’ll hear something like how good the restaurants are in Boerum Hill, and the address is almost always on Smith Street. Or, I’ll see an ad that mentions Carroll Gardens and the ad will mention Smith Street. Or, I’ll read an article on some new celebrity that’s chosen to live in BoCoCa and I’ll see Smith Street mentioned as a celebrity spotting area or something. In any event, the place just seemed to be asking Famous Ankles to wanders its length.
And so I did.
The furthest south part of the district is Carroll Gardens, so it’s appropo that I got off the subway at the Carroll Gardens stop and started heading north.
First of all, remember that this is Brooklyn. That means lots of things to me. First, it means low buildings and then it means lots of trees. There are tons and tons of brownstones and oodles of restaurants and vintage clothing places. Smith Street is absolutely typical of that. The one item it doesn’t seem to have a lot of are churches. Brooklyn has lots of churches, but I don’t remember seeing anything on Smith Street itself, although there were a number of them when I wandered off the main path.
But, the three-story buildings? Check. Here’s Carroll Gardens.
Oh, yeah. It’s got a nice little farmers’ market on Saturdays. Apparently a very long tradition for the area. The nearby sign said it had been going on for 30 years.
Nowhere near the size of the Union Square market, but not bad at all.
The side streets have lots of nice little brownstores and row houses.
The below is on Wyckoff Street.
I don’t know the prices, but I did see a note in a nearby realtor office that had a 3-story place on the market for $1.3 million. The street on the flyer wasn’t any of the streets that I walked on, so it’s just a rough guess for the above.
As I wandered the area, I did note a significant Hispanic influence just by hearing conversations in Spanish and such things as the following picture. (It isn’t necessarily Hispanic, but something about the area seemed to be very Hispanic although I can’t recall or describe it. I can pretty much tell you flatly that it ain’t Protestant.)
Now, I will say this about Smith Street: you wanna eat? Smith Street has it for you. That is, unless you want fast food. I didn’t see a single McDonalds or other mainstream fast food place anywhere. It warmed my heart.
And, in the distance, loomed Borough Hall.
I finally did decide to stop and eat at a local place.
It’s the Pacifico Restaurant on Pacific Street. It is a little odd why they would name a street in New York after the Pacific Ocean. (They can’t mean “calm street”, hey! It’s Brooklyn!) The place is absolutely, marvelously Brooklynesque. It’s well kept up, but not fancy. The tables and all are cheap, but not horribly so. It wants to say that it is a down-home family kind of place, but who knows about that? In any event, the eating area was in the open area in the middle of the place and I ordered the fish tacos. I’m not a real trustworthy source for food picks, but I liked it. Not real cheap, but not bad.
Overall, Smith Street is a great walk with wonderful amenities and pretty nice people. You can do worse than visit or live in the area.