Cobble Hill & Carroll Gardens tour (+ Gowanus)
Shopping, food, row-house streets, historic architecture, Italian flavor, a new restaurant row, and charm in the shadow of Downtown Brooklyn.
Two row-house neighborhoods below Brooklyn Heights and Atlantic Yards deserve attention in the same tour.
After all, they were both once part of the vast undifferentiated mass once known as South Brooklyn. Indeed, if you look closely at the bank that has now become Trader Joe's, you'll see signage indicating South Brooklyn Savings Bank.
We walk down the major shopping streets (Smith Street, an early restaurant row, and Court Street), a look at the gardens that gave Carroll Gardens its name, and the opportunity to stop in some unusual shops and traditional bakeries, signs of the extant Italian-American influence.
The neighborhoods include some classic churches, a church turned synagogue and a multiple churches converted into housing, two historic districts, some progressively innovative housing for the working class, and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE), which cut a huge gash in the district.
We can dip into the small, mostly residential Boerum Hill and see one of Brooklyn's most delightful art projects.
We can extend the route into the historically industrial area of Gowanus, which is going through significant change, with new housing, restaurants, and night life, all in the orbit--amazingly--of a Superfund site!
This walk includes many options for snacking and/or lunch, including coffee, baked goods, pizza, tacos, and more. There's also great dessert, including multiple ice cream options.
Beyond the new cafes and restaurants, there are some classic outlets reflecting the longstanding Italian-American community. Also, rents have risen so much that some in the first wave of gentrifying businesses in Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens are gone.
Distance from Midtown Manhattan: 20-30 minutes by subway
Basic tour length: 2.5 hours (see fees)
Starting place: Varies, but typically near Bergen Street and Smith Street or Carroll Street and Smith Street, stops on the F/G trains
Ending place: Varies
Highlights: History, architecture, shopping, neighborhood charm
Before tour: Visit Brooklyn Heights or Transit Museum
During/after tour: numerous options to snack
Potential tour extensions with me: Brooklyn Heights & Bridge, Brooklyn 101, DUMBO, Atlantic Avenue & Downtown Brooklyn, Red Hook
Why I like leading this tour: A junior cousin to Brooklyn Heights, these neighborhoods have more variety: some spectacular blocks, intriguing shopping, and a surprising number of churches turned into apartments