Although I’ve already published one local’s interview about the whole of New York City, it’s such a diverse and interesting place that I couldn’t help but ask some more locals to get involved. This time, we’re taking a deep dive into one of the NYC boroughs, Brooklyn. Are you ready?
1. Could you tell us a little about yourself and where you come from?
I was born and raised in New York City. Most people don’t realise how big New York City really is. First, it is comprised of 5 unique boroughs: Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens. Second, each borough holds several different types of communities, and groups of different economic backgrounds. I grew up in the Bronx, but went to school in Manhattan. After years of living outside of New York City, I came back to the city for work, and settled in Brooklyn.
2. What do you love most about Brooklyn?
I love that my part of Brooklyn offers a quaint respite from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. It’s currently got all the great things about a city: amazing restaurants, bars, cultural events, art venues, diversity and more. And yet, it retains some of the tranquility of suburban life: beautiful and historic family homes, tree-lined residential streets, families, small businesses, parks, farmer markets, and everything shuts down at around 10PM, which is an anomaly in the city that never sleeps. I would recommend Brooklyn for the food, the bars, and the cultural/art events.
3. Is there anything that frustrates or annoys you when tourists visit New York City?
Yes. Please, if you are tourist in NYC or Brooklyn never do the following or you will unleash our New Yorker wrath:
- Loiter in front of the train doors
- Take too long to walk into the train (the doors will close on us!)
- Walk too slowly in front of us (we’re either late because of our train or racing for our train!)
- Stop in the middle of the street to look at your phone or map, loiter in the crosswalk to look at your phone or map, etc.
Basically, New Yorkers, we just know to stay out of each other’s way. It keeps things efficient in our overcrowded and chaotic day-to-day lives 🙂
4. In your opinion, which places should be at the top of any visitor’s wishlist in Brooklyn?
Arts or cultural events, especially in our smaller local venues and museums. My personal favorite is the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
5. What foods must visitors eat when in your hometown?
A bagel with lox cream cheese, a slice of pizza, and some of our many vegan and super healthy locally-made concoctions (like truffle honey from a Brooklyn rooftop beehive).
6. What’s your favourite word in your local language? Why? What does it mean?
Our “local” language is English, but NYC is so diverse that simply leaving it there would be a disservice to its multitude of rich cultures and diaspora communities. So I’m going to go with the word “Bodega”. It’s Spanish for grocery store, but has taken a very particular meaning in New York. A bodega is a 24 hour corner store usually owned by either a Latino or a Middle-eastern family, and provides a variety of snacks, fast food, and random household items. What makes bodegas so special is that they’re usually situated right below an apartment building, making them very popular among local residents and garnering a feeling of community, which is hard to attain in our fast-paced, blurry city life.
7. What advice would you give to somebody moving to Brooklyn?
Remember to get out. Even in the winter. There are always events going on in Brooklyn every day, often free ones (so don’t let money deter you). Sometimes it’s hard to connect to Brooklyn or New York City because it can feel like the opportunities and people are far removed from you. But Brooklyn is bustling with opportunity and friendly people. Don’t let the mean hipsters intimidate you, they’re a dying minority and they don’t represent us. Take a class, go to the park, volunteer in an animal shelter, etc. Just get out there and experience Brooklyn!
8. If you could describe Brooklyn in just one sentence, what would you say?
Spread love, it’s the Brooklyn way.
9. If tourists were to know one thing about New York’s culture, what should that be?
We, New Yorkers throughout the boroughs, are generally known for being direct and honest. What you see is what you get. We don’t hide behind curtains of initial phoney niceness. Some see this trait as off-putting and intimidating. I think it’s refreshing, alleviating, and a huge time-saver!
Thanks so much, we’ve loved getting to know Brooklyn and New York better!
And if you loved this interview, don’t forget to share it around!