Profile: Brooklyn, New York

This visitor's guide to the bustling borough includes relocation information and top local destinations.

By: Bob Weinstein

Similar Topics:
  1. Northeast Cities
Opening Day: Brooklyn Flea

Opening Day: Brooklyn Flea

Photo by: Jonathan Butler/Brooklyn Flea

Jonathan Butler/Brooklyn Flea

Population: 2.5 million

USDA Hardiness Zone: 7a

Major Airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport

Companies Based in Brooklyn: National Grid (formerly Keyspan, the second-largest electricity and gas company in the U.S.), Con Edison, The State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn (SUNY Downstate Medical Center), The Brooklyn Navy Yard (home to more than 200 private firms specializing in industrial design; food processing; and art, film and television production)

Brooklyn is a world unto itself. It’s like no other New York City borough. In A House on the Heights, Truman Capote wrote: “I live in Brooklyn. By choice. Those ignorant of its allures are entitled to wonder why." And in the short story “Only the Dead Know Brooklyn,” Thomas Wolfe wrote: “Yuh can't drown in Brooklyn. Yuh gotta drown somewhere else -- in duh ocean.”

Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City’s five boroughs and was once the third-largest city in America. It has been called the icon of the American city and a melting pot of humanity, a vibrant and exhilarating mix of the old and new. It has its own distinct cachet. There isn’t a Brooklynite who isn’t proud to say that he was born and raised there. By birthright alone, your Brooklyn roots make you special.

Brooklynites are maligned for their gruffness and their brutal butchering of the English language. Where else do you hear “dese,” “dems” and “dose,” and “fuggedaboutit”? In the real Brooklyn neighborhoods, people actually speak that way. Comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Mel Brooks, Jackie Gleason, Eddie Murphy and Joan Rivers poke fun at their Brooklyn roots every chance they get. By the same token, they’re the first to say that it also helps make them unique and gives them an attitude and outlook that have permeated their entire lives.

Home of the Brooklyn Dodgers (aka “The Bums”), Brooklyn was also home to Ebbets Field, where Jackie Robinson, the first African-American player in major league baseball, broke the color barrier; the original Nathan’s Famous hot dogs; the best pizza on the planet; the egg cream; and dozens of historic neighborhoods whose roots trace back to the early 1600s, when the Dutch first settled here.

Brooklyn has spawned a host of world-famous celebrities, including writers Walt Whitman, Hubert Selby Jr., W.H. Auden, Carson McCullers, Norman Mailer and Colson Whitehead; actors Mickey Rooney, Mae West, Steve Buscemi, Richard Dreyfuss, Mary Tyler Moore and Harvey Keitel; comedian Danny Kaye; composer George Gershwin; and singers Lena Horne, Carole King, Lou Reed and Barbra Streisand, to name a few.

Brooklyn’s business landscape is dominated by small businesses that are spread throughout the borough. Until the mid-1970s, most of the jobs centered around manufacturing. For the latter quarter-century, Brooklyn evolved into a service economy, with many jobs located in downtown and nearby DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), an acronym coined in the late 1970s). Today, it’s a winding stretch of several acres of waterfront property, where streets of converted industrial buildings lead to a view of the Empire State Building, perfectly framed beyond the Manhattan Bridge.

Just beyond DUMBO, bustling downtown Brooklyn is the home of municipal court buildings; banks; financial back-office operations; accounting; computer-service firms; and fast-food eateries, from coffee and bagel/sandwich shops to places like Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King, Popeyes and KFC.

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