I’m back again, guys! This time with a little more knowledge and insight on my brand new neighborhood. It’s been about three weeks since I’ve been living here, and I can honestly say that I love it.
I was a little worried when I started surfing Craigslist a couple of months ago, desperate for an apartment that I could afford… it seemed like I wouldn’t be able to find anything within my price range that could provide a decent space to live, especially one that I could feel safe in. So when I kept seeing apartments listed for $600.00 (six hundred!!! what?!?) in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, I thought it was too good to be true. Not that there wasn’t some hesitation. First of all, I had never even HEARD of the place (ignorance on my end), and secondly, when I ended up mentioning it to people, they would all say the same thing: “… you’re moving there? Please be safe.”, and so on and so forth. I couldn’t help it though. There was something within me telling me that I had to at least LOOK. Safety is important, but I had this feeling that I’d be just fine.
And I was right.
Fast forward to present-day: I have a killer apartment with killer wooden floors, my own bedroom, a living room, an amazingly friendly and diverse community, AND there’s trees all over the place. All for $550 a month. On top of that, the hub for all things young and fun (Franklin Ave.) is just a fifteen-minute walk from my place.
After getting settled, I decided it was time to explore my new digs. I started with Franklin Ave. because I’d heard from various sources that there were interesting things to do around there. It turned out I had quite the adventure!
First Stop: Coffee at Little Zelda
Little Zelda is as adorable as it sounds.
Located on Franklin between Park and Stanton, I ventured here first because it was early and I needed some form of caffeine. As I walked up to the shop, I could tell it was a place adored by the locals because it was pretty crowded. It happened to be scorching hot that day, and there were many taking advantage of the outdoor seating, while others took refuge in the cozy interior. I walked in and was immediately greeted by not only the super-friendly barista, but some fellow Crown Heights residents, too. Everyone seemed to be excited to have someone new to show all the cool spots in the area to. I ordered my drink, and chatted with a local for a bit. He claimed to love the neighborhood, emphasizing the tight-knit community. As I looked around, I knew he was right. Little Zelda is a haven for those that just want to have a quick chat with a perfect stranger without having to go to a bar. Not to mention the barista has some serious skills and can whip up a mean latte. I’ll definitely be back soon to grab a coffee as well as get my social fix when needed!
Up next: Homemade jam and artisan cheese at Wedge
Ok, now I’m in heaven. I am within walking distance of an artisan cheese shop.
I’m still recovering over this fact, by the way.
Wedge is located right next to Little Zelda, and although it may be small in size, it boasts a lovely selection of high quality cheese at a decent price. The staff was very pleasant and willing to divulge about the different kinds carried. Some from New York, others from Italy, when I say the woman running shop knows her cheese, I mean it. Passion for the product obviously motivates those that work here, because it shows in every bit of the space.
Wedge has got their cheese down to a science. Paired with homemade jams lovingly made from scratch, this is the spot to snag something for that fancy dinner party you might be attending. Not that there ever needs to be a reason to go indulge in some phenomenal cheese, though. AND if you don’t quite need a whole block of the best cheese ever all to yourself… they make sandwiches. So if you’re in the area, I highly suggest snagging one of these babies, chowing down, and allowing your tastebuds to thank you every step of the way. It’s just that good.
Last, but never least: Browsing at Cool Pony
I, for one, am a huge fan of bargains. Stumbling across Cool Pony was fate. The clothes sold there are quite cheap, and if you look hard enough you’ll be able to scoop up some gems. What struck me about this place wasn’t just the cool Western-inspired aesthetic, but the fact that they don’t only sell clothes. Cool Pony sells jewelry, records, and locally produced food items such as chocolate and jam as well. But that’s not all! This place also transforms into a venue for folk musicians by night. I was lucky enough to have a friendly worker tell me about a bluegrass show happening later on in the day. I ended up going, and had a blast checking out the local talent. Oh, and last thing… it’s even got a little community patio in the back. So if you want to browse, listen to some fine tunes, or chat with other locals on the back patio, you are free to do that at Cool Pony. The best part? They’re kind enough to let you know you don’t have to purchase a thing in order to enjoy the pretty outdoor space they’ve provided. And that’s kind of amazing.
I walked away from Franklin Ave. excited about all the fun I had. In just one day I had checked out the local coffee shop, tried some incredible cheeses, and found a multi-purpose space to hangout and shop in. I also made friends easily. The crowd here has a sense of pride about this neighborhood. A neighborhood that before I had moved here, didn’t know had such a strong identity. From the bodegas, to people spending their days on their stoops, to the kids playing basketball around the corner, I find myself falling in love with where I live. I love every part of it, even aside form the fancy cheese and well-brewed coffee. There’s vitality. And I think that all anyone can ask for in this world is to be excited about the place they call home. Isn’t that why we all decided to move to NYC in the first place?