A recent article from London-based Time Out magazine on The 40 Coolest Neighbourhoods in the World (note the British spelling) listed Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn as #4, noting that it's "cloaked in history," but this year "became New York’s greatest incubator of the future," given its role as a main hub for Black Lives Matter protests and the home to mutual aid networks.
I always resist such lists, because 1) "Cool" can be very arbitrary, and 2) the evidence cited is inevitably partial, unable to take in the vastness of a neighborhood, especially one as large as Bed-Stuy, with many layers to it.
That said, this has been an important year for Bed-Stuy, as the listing notes. I'd add, for example, The Billie Holiday Theatre's production of 12 ANGRY MEN…AND WOMEN: THE WEIGHT OF THE WAIT (and this shorter interview).
The Time Out article links to two, more in-depth articles. One, headlined This local group is supporting Bed-Stuy's Black community through fundraising and block parties, concerns Building Black Bed-Stuy, which is raising capital for three enterprises: Life Wellness, The Watoto Free School, and The Black Power Blueprint. (Here's more, from Vogue, on Building Black Bed-Stuy.)
That first linked Time Out article article also lists five spots for outdoor dining, all of them relatively new restaurants and not necessarily Black-owned. (Here's a link to a standalone dining list.)
The second link from the main article reads Get to know the best Black-owned businesses with our Bed-Stuy area guide and states, "Bedford-Stuyvesant is a historic Brooklyn neighborhood that's alive with wonderful Black-owned businesses and a tight-knit community." Indeed, it advises "Shop Tompkins Avenue and support Black-owned businesses like Bed-Vyne Wine & Spirits, Peace & Riot, Sincerely, Tommy while sipping on a drink from Brooklyn Kettle."
A surprising link to my tour
It also advises that, "On a Sunny Day," "Take the New York Like a Native Bed-Stuy Walking Tour, where you'll learn about the history of the neighborhood." That's a nice plug, but it's also be misleading, because I'm not a "Black-owned business" nor ever professed to be one. (The mention in Time Out was a surprise.)
Nor am I a Bed-Stuy local--just as I'm not a resident, present or past, of most of the neighborhoods where I lead tours. (Or, well, have led tours for 20 years. Since March, the walking tour business has pretty much been on hold.) But I've spent enough time walking and studying the neighborhoods where I do lead tours to offer insights and context.
I don't think a web search would find another tour guide/company that lists tours of Bed-Stuy, but I know that Suzanne Spellen and Morgan Munsey, a team of guides (both African-American), lead occasional tours of the neighborhood for the Municipal Art Society and can do so privately. See Spellen of Troy.
Another Time Out link leads to Six secrets of Bedford-Stuyvesant, "the historic and tightly-knit Brooklyn neighborhood." Well, Bed-Stuy can be tightly-knit, but, given that it had more than 155,000 people (larger than Albany or Syracuse) in 2018, the generalization is unwise. But the article usefully cites the Hattie Carthan Community Garden, the Billie Holiday Theatre, and other neighborhood features.
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Touring Brooklyn Blog
Observations and ephemera related to my tours and Brooklyn. Comments and questions are welcome--and moderated.