Living in Brooklyn Heights: Things to Do and See in Brooklyn Heights, New York City
Brooklyn Heights—Spectacular Views and Splendid Homes
This leafy enclave on the East River combines the elegance of the Upper East Side with the understated hipness of New York City’s most fashionable borough. Truman Capote opened his 1959 essay Brooklyn Heights: A Personal Memoir, about his decade living in the area with the words: “I live in Brooklyn. By choice.” And indeed, Brooklyn Heights has been consistently labeled Brooklyn’s most pleasant, attractive, and idyllic neighborhood. It feels almost frozen in time, compared to the borough’s other, more industrial areas like Dumbo or Downtown Brooklyn. Brooklyn Heights began to develop once Robert Fulton's New York and Brooklyn Steam Ferry Boat Co. began regularly scheduled steam ferry service in 1814 and the neighborhood was developed with a regular grid pattern. And with the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883, residents had direct and fast access to Manhattan, which made it ideal for bankers and other professionals working in the Financial District.
Where Is Brooklyn Heights located in NYC?
- East to West Boundaries: Cadman Plaza West to the East River
- North to South Boundaries: Brooklyn Bridge Promenade to Atlantic Avenue
- Subway: A, C, R, W, 2, 3, 4, 5
- Ticket out of the City: NYC Ferry services, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway
What to Do in Brooklyn Heights?
Brooklyn Heights is a walkable neighborhood. Green spaces, parks, and playgrounds abound. The Brooklyn Heights Promenade and its scenic piers offer the best views in the city. There’s an abundance of restaurants and bars; many have sidewalk cafes, patios, and gardens, adding to the European-style ambience. There are outdoor art installations in the summer, and the iconic century-old Jane’s Carousel, at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, is another place to take in the panoramic vistas of the Manhattan skyline. The heart of Brooklyn’s Heights restaurant scene is on Montague Street with eclectic eateries on the neighborhood’s fringes.
Brooklyn Heights is best discovered by walking. Many historic buildings have plaques with the names of famous past residents. The Brooklyn Historical Society, located at 128 Pierrepont St, was founded in 1863. It offers exhibitions, educational programs, and a library which houses the most comprehensive collection of materials related to Brooklyn’s history and culture. Art galleries in the area include the Jubilee Gallery, the Brooklyn Arts Project, and the Picture Room gallery of rare prints and posters. The New York Transit Museum offers a glimpse into New York’s City’s past. Another famous landmark is Plymouth Church, which played a central role in the abolitionist movement. During the presidential election campaign of 1860, Abraham Lincoln visited the church and spoke from the pulpit. Other famous speakers have included Mark Twain, William Thackeray, and Martin Luther King, Jr. A piece of Plymouth Rock resides in the cloister of Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims. For classical chamber concerts, residents head to Bargemusic, a small floating former coffee barge-turned-concert space. Moored since 1977 at Fulton Ferry landing near the Brooklyn Bridge, Bargemusic provides unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline behind its small stage. This unique space offers afternoon and evening recitals, piano and chamber music performances in an informal, intimate setting.
What to See in Brooklyn Heights?
This serene neighborhood with its understated grandeur is largely composed of blocks of picturesque three- to four-story rowhouses. Many are ivy-clad, featuring charming stoops in the front and leafy private gardens in the back. There’s also more than 600 historic homes, comprising pre-Civil War to late 19th-century townhouses, mansions, and brownstones. A great range of architectural styles is represented here, including Federal, Italianate, Romanesque, Second Empire, Gothic and Classical Revival styles. Some houses were constructed of brick, but the dominant building material was brownstone or “Jersey freestone,” a reddish-brown stone from Passaic County, New Jersey. Famous residents included the composer Benjamin Britten, and writers Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, Thomas Wolfe, and Arthur Miller. Contemporary residents include Matt Damon, Matthew Broderick, Bjork, and Penélope Cruz.
The Heights is, unsurprisingly, Brooklyn’s most expensive neighborhood. The luxury real estate options include large single-family homes and lofty apartments with East River views. Most have been restored and include courtyards and gardens. Look to Williamsburg or Dumbo for sleek contemporary high-rises with rooftop lounges, gyms, and juice bars; but Brooklyn Heights has a few modern condominiums and converted lofts, among them are One Brooklyn Bridge Park, The Heights, Pierhouse at Brooklyn Bridge Park, and 24 Remsen Street.
Where to Eat in Brooklyn Heights?
Brooklyn Heights is home to The River Café, one of New York City’s culinary landmarks. Elegant and romantic, the illustrious Michelin-starred establishment has perhaps the best location of any restaurant in New York: a former coffee barge in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge with the Lower Manhattan skyline as the view. (Jackets are required after 5 p. m.; ties are preferred.) Other, less formal establishments include the Gran Electrica, The Osprey, Jack the Horse Tavern, and Noodle Pudding.
What Schools are in Brooklyn Heights?
Brooklyn Heights is a sought-after school district with many city-renowned public and private schools as well as a few parochial private schools, including the K-12 St. Ann’s School; its alumni include Lena Dunham and Jennifer Connolly. Other notable schools include the Packer Collegiate Institute, another K-12 school. The 1901-founded Brooklyn Law School is here as well, as is St. Francis College, which has been ranked one of the top baccalaureate colleges in the North.
How Many People Live in Brooklyn Heights?