Park Slope embodies just about everything you expect from Brooklyn: immaculate brownstones, well-coiffed writers, stoop sales, stroller traffic, greenmarkets and local artisanal and craft stores. But much more awaits! For starters, consider the hundreds of rambling acres that make up Prospect Park, the many offbeat cultural attractions and the cool vintage shops that dot the neighborhood. Much of the area is landmarked as historic, but development is nipping at its borders, with the new Barclays Center to the north and highrises along Fourth Avenue. No longer just a cozy bastion of the bookish and liberal, Park Slope plays a major part in the borough's glossy brand.
Park Slope encompasses a large area. Two miles long, it's bordered by Flatbush Avenue to the north, Fourth Avenue to the west, Prospect Avenue to the south and Prospect Park to the east. Those living on the northern end of the neighborhood have more subway options than those to the south, thanks to nine lines at Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center: the 2/3, 4/5, B/D and N/R/Q. Those on the southern end rely on the F, G and R trains. The B63 connects the area to Sunset Park and Downtown Brooklyn and the B69 to Windsor Terrace and Fort Greene.
Prospect Park's 585 acres explain Park Slope's enduring desirability. There's a 3.35-mile loop for cyclists and joggers, a carousel and zoo for the kids, baseball fields, public grills and summer concerts. The new LeFrack Center at Lakeside has two rinks for (seasonal) ice skating and roller skating. As you follow ambling paths through natural woodland, it's easy to see why many consider this park a masterpiece of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Adjacent to the park is the lush Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which is especially attractive during cherry blossom season, and Grand Army Plaza, home to the Brooklyn Public Library's central branch. On Saturdays, the entire neighborhood seems to congregate at the plaza's farmers market, the largest in Brooklyn.
Incredibly comfortable, Park Slope draws a lot of families. Its streets are quiet at night, schools are good and there's a strong parenting community. It's all a bit too family-friendly for many single residents, who square off with parents about whether children should be allowed in bars. Those who bristle at this idea should explore nearby Prospect Heights, Crown Heights or Williamsburg.
Park Slope residents are a mix of single (45%) and married (43%) people, a quarter of whom have children. Nearly half of residents are in their 20s and 30s, 16% are in their 40s, and 20% are over 50. The median household income is $57,484.
Half of Park Slope residents have commutes of 45 minutes or more. Nearly 14% have commutes under 20 minutes, 12% travel for 20-30 minutes and 21% travel for 30-45 minutes. It's about 45 minutes to Grand Central and 30 minutes to Union Square or Wall Street.
Fifth and Seventh Avenues are Park Slope's main drags, both chockablock with yoga studios, bagel shops, children's boutiques and cafes. There's a wide variety of great restaurants, with something for every budget and craving. Italian restaurant al di la Trattoria helped turn the area into a dining destination when it opened in 1998, and still commands long waits for tables. Farm-to-table restaurants, such as Applewood and Flatbush Farm, where you are likely to learn the provenance of every item on the menu, abound. But there are also plenty of laid-back options, from inexpensive pizzerias to Thai takeout to sunny diners. Local pubs like the Park Slope Ale House and Commonwealth give the neighborhood a friendly, lived-in vibe.
Eating and drinking are major diversions here, but there's also plenty of window-shopping to be had on long, post-brunch strolls. You'll find vintage furniture stores and consignment shops, such as Beacon's Closet; stationers and independent booksellers, such as Community; and womenswear boutiques and shoe stores. On spring and summer weekends, side streets are thick with stoop sales. You can also visit the Brooklyn Museum by the park, which hosts international contemporary-art exhibits and regular late-night parties. More after-hours entertainment can be found at Union Hall, which has live music and bocce, and Barbès, a fun jazz and world-music destination. At Atlantic Avenue on the north end of Park Slope, the Barclays Center hosts pop-music concerts and is home to the Brooklyn Nets. All in all, Park Slope has the amenities and attractions of an independent city, such that you hardly need to leave.
Park Slope History
Like much of Brooklyn, Park Slope was mostly farmland during its early history. Development began with the creation of Prospect Park, which opened in 1868, and the extension of street railways. The area close to Grand Army Plaza was built up first, with mansions and row houses constructed for professionals who commuted to work in Downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan. Prospect Park West and Eighth Avenue were lined with beautiful homes for the wealthy. Streets west of Seventh Avenue and south of 9th Street were more modest and largely Irish. With the rise of the automobile and the suburbs in the mid-20th century, many professionals abandoned Park Slope in favor of Long Island, and the working class moved in. In the 1960s and 1970s, professionals were gradually lured back by the cheap housing stock, which they bought and restored. In 1973, northeastern parts of the neighborhood were designated a historic district, noted for the ornate Beaux-Arts, Romanesque Revival and Neo-Classic style buildings. Advocates continue to push for expanding the district's boundaries.
25 Eighth Avenue - The Montauk Club, its design inspired by a Venetian Palace, opened in 1891
119 Eighth Avenue - Romanesque Revival mansion built in 1888 for chewing-gum magnate Thomas Adams
95 Prospect Park West - Litchfield Villa, a hilltop Italianate mansion built in 1857
17 Prospect Park West - Built in 1899 and designed by Montrose Morris, this mansion is a former home of actors Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany
21 Garfield Place - Childhood home of gangster Al Capone, who also lived at numbers 38 and 46 Garfield.
444 12th Street - Former Ansonia Clock Factory, now condominiums
126 Sterling Place - One of several buildings damaged at the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Sterling Place when a plane crashed here in 1960.