Bushwick Buzz: A Look at the Neighborhood That’s Dethroned Williamsburg as Brooklyn’s Most Hipster

January 29, 2015

Of Brooklyn’s gentrifying neighborhoods, few have seen such rapid change as Bushwick. The neighborhood, which sits in the northern portion of the borough, running from Flushing Avenue to Broadway to Conway Street and the Cemetery of the Evergreens, has grown as a natural extension of Williamsburg—a haven for creatives and young folks looking for lower rents. But well before its trendy vibe put it on the map, Bushwick was a forested enclave originally settled by the Dutch—its name is derived from a Dutch word “Boswijck,”defined as “little town in the woods”—and later, German immigrants who began building breweries and factories.

Unfortunately, as the breweries along Brewer’s Row and factories closed and farms disappeared, derelict buildings and crime took hold—with the looting, arson and rioting after the city’s blackout during the summer of 1977 playing a starring role. According to the New York Times, “In a five-year period in the late 1960s and early 70s, the Bushwick neighborhood was transformed from a neatly maintained community of wood houses into what often approached a no man’s land of abandoned buildings, empty lots, drugs and arson.”

The Old Bushwick_Church_L.I._Built in 1711 An illustration of The Old Bushwick Church in 1711. Today, this is about where Bushwick Avenue runs into Wood Point Road at new Conselyea Street. Image via NYPL

VIEW FROM UNDER ELEVATED TRAIN TRACKS AT BUSHWICK AVENUE IN BROOKLYN View from under the elevated train tracks at Bushwick Avenue in 1974. Image © Danny Lyon/Creative Commons

Starting in the mid-2000s, the City and State of New York began pouring resources into Bushwick, primarily through a program called the Bushwick Initiative—a two-year pilot program led by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, and the office of assemblyman Vito Lopez. The goal? Improving the quality of life and increasing economic development opportunities for some 23 square-blocks surrounding Maria Hernandez Park. Additionally, initiatives were put in place to reduce drug dealing that had reached titanic proportions.

bushwick restuarants and barsImages via CityRealty

But as Brooklyn’s gentrification enjoyed what can only be called a natural progression, Bushwick began getting its somewhat bohemian mojo back about five years ago, replete with people-watching art galleries and studios (Arts in Bushwick produces neighborhood art festivals, including the Bushwick Open Studios), super-hipster restaurants like Roberta’s wood-fired pizzas (hopefully, brioche with pistachio ice cream are on tap, too) and southern-comfort cuisine at Montana’s Trail House, high-profile markets like Hana Food and Circo’s Pastry Shop, snappy shops along Wyckoff Avenue —and a hot-and-happening nightlife.

Bushwick’s hip cachet has even garnered it some pop-culture references, most notably, in Lena Dunham‘s HBO show “Girls”, and more recently SNL dedicated a sketch to poking fun of at neighborhood’s rapid gentrification. And if that’s not enough, just last fall, Vogue named it the 7th coolest neighborhood in the world.

maria hernandez parkMaria Hernandez Park. Image via nycgovparks.org

A sprawling neighborhood by anyone’s measure, green space is plentiful. For instance, the Bushwick Pool and Park has a large public pool, a smaller one for kids, a number of ball courts and a playground, and the Maria Hernandez Park is teeming with ball courts, playgrounds, a dog park and a farmer’s market.

What’s for Sale and Rent

Between 2011 and 2013, the number and price of development sites sold more than doubled, according to research compiled by Ariel Property Advisors (city records show that there were nearly 390 vacant lots in 2012).

Housing stock now includes large lofts and apartments carved from industrial buildings, warehouses (read high ceilings, exposed brick and walls of oversized windows) and even old grocery stores. Inventory also includes somewhat worn but historic mansions, apartments for sale or rent, limestone-brick townhouses, single- and multi-family homes, and a lot of new rental and condo developments.

330 bleecker street brooklynImage courtesy of Douglas Elliman

The newest of these developments includes 330 Bleecker Street between Wyckoff and Irving Avenues. Exclusively marketed through Douglas Elliman, fixtures and finishes inside the mostly two-bedroom units as well as a 1,978-square-foot, four-bedroom full-floor home with a 1,858 terrace ($1.980 million) includes balconies, engineered bamboo flooring, double-pane floor-to-ceiling windows, kitchens with handmade oak cabinets and top-of-the-line appliances, master baths with soaking tubs and/or separate walk-in showers—and doorman services. Pricing for what’s left begins at $650,000 for a two-bedroom home.

A boutique condo, 13 Melrose Street off Broadway is selling like hotcakes through Apartments and Lofts. What’s left of the oversized one-bedroom units with home office have 10-foot-high ceilings, walls of windows and white oak hardwood floors. Open kitchens with top-drawer stainless appliances from the likes of Fisher & Paykel also feature stone worktops and custom cabinetry. Bathrooms are outfitted with rainfall showerheads, soaking tubs and custom vanities. Some units have private outdoor space but there is a communal roof deck. What’s left is priced from about $450,000 and there is a duplex with a garden still on the market.

896 Flushing Avenue, Bushwick, Zosia MametZosia Mamet’s home at 896 Flushing Avenue. Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

Then of course there is Girls’ star Zosia Mamet’s 2,500-square-foot home. The actress put the massive 21-room multi-family house up for sale last October for $1.6 million. Mamet and her boyfriend had plans to convert the home into a single-family dwelling, but less than a year after moving in they put it back on the market.

Flushing, Bushwick and Evergreen Avenues and Melrose Street border the 6.4-acre site known as the Rheingold Brewery development. The largest of all of Bushwick’s new developments, this rental complex (said to be about 1,000 units (30 percent will be affordable) will certainly draw even more attention to Bushwick.


For more on what to do in the area and to see what other real estate is up for grabs, check out our handy neighborhood guide here. Bushwick Daily will also provide you with the neighborhood’s latest intel.

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