Progression of Activities in Williamsburg
Williamsburg was not always the busiest of neighborhods. When it was developed as a suburb of Manhattan, the housing market was poor, so few people moved there. Williamsburg became an industrial neighborhood, where the majority of activity centered around industrial firms such as Astral Oil, Brooklyn Flint Glass, and Domino’s sugar factory. The waterfront started to develop more in the mid 1800’s when breweries, shipyards, and mills were increasingly built. People started attending church in Williamsburg at this time as well, as more places of worship began to be built. After the Williamsburg bridge was erected, the population of Williamsburg skyrocketed, beginning with Hasidic Jews looking for a better place to practice their religion. Now, Williamsburg has become a widely popular and art-based neighborhood with many new attractions and recreational activity. The mixed uses of space throughout the neighborhood reflect Jane Jacobs’ theories. Jacobs writes, “The district and indeed as many internal parts as possible, must serve more than one primary function; preferably more than two” (198). Williamsburg is used by people of all ages, religion, and race for a variety of activity. Artists come to sell their work on the streets and in markets. Families come to Williamsburg to enjoy the wider spaces and parks, while young, single people come for the hipster vibe, the good food, and the creative culture.
Artists and Fleas
Every Saturday and Sunday Artists and Fleas is held in Williamsburg on North 7th Street, only one block away from the beautiful waterfront. The building is full of vendors and packed with people circling in search of jewelry, books, clocks, clothing, maps, art, and more. The Flea market was established in 2003 in a previously abandoned warehouse. It has now expanded and is held in Chelsea Market during the holidays in addition to the original spot in artsy Williamsburg.
One of the coolest venues in Williamsburg is Brooklyn Bowl. This bowling alley not only has 16 lanes, but is also a performance venue, restaurant, and bar that proudly advertises locally brewed beer and food by Blue Ribbon. Although kids come to bowl during Family Bowl on Saturdays and Sundays, Brooklyn Bowl is 21 plus after 6pm, and is morphed into an adult version of a childhood past time. Established recently in 2009, Brooklyn Bowl has quickly become a huge attraction in New York City.
Northside Festival is an 8 day compilation of live music, movie screenings, panel talks and art held in June every summer. Anyone can submit their own movie or band to be evaluated for a chance to be a part of the festival; these online forms of submission can be found in the festivals website. Many venues throughout Williamsburg and south Greenpoint are a pert of the festival. Ticket passes are available for Music, Film, or Innovation panels separately, but the festival also offers passes which include access to everything, going for for $235 in 2013.
The Williamsburg Bridge spans across the East river and connects Manhattan and Brooklyn. It is used for quick transportation between boroughs by car, but is also used by pedestrians and bikers as a fun activity and for great views. The bridge was originally built in 1903 and was at the time the longest suspension bridge in existence, at 7308 feet. In the 1990’s the city rehabilitated the bridge after many years of wear and tear. The entrance to the pedestrian walkway in Williamsburg is on Berry Street between 5th and 6th Streets.
Many people come to the bridge and the waterfront to enjoy the amazing scenery and appreciate the water’s nature within the city. Thoreau speaks of water as a comfort and a permanent piece of a lanscape. Thoreau writes, “It is itself unchanged; the same water with which my youthful eyes fell on; all the change is in me. It has not acquired one permanent wrinkle after all its ripples” (Thoreau, 182). The view of the East River from Williamsburg and from the Williamsburg bridge draws people because it is never changing compared to the constantly changing New York skyline.
Shopping in Williamsburg has become a major part of the economic prosperity of Williamsburg. The artists and hipsters of the neighborhood are all looking for the coolest vintage pieces to add tot heir closets and homes, so the neighborhood is naturally full of second-hand shops only filled with artisan or handcrafted products. As the neighborhood’s rent goes up, the population of high-end shoppers and stores increases as well, as many of the artisan stores are very expensive. Many mainstream designer stores are opening more frequently as well. Bedford Avenue is one of the prime stretches to shop in Williamsburg; some of the most popular stores can found on Bedford.
While visiting Goldwater Thriftique, we were able to get an idea of thrift shopping in Williamsburg. Jacqueline works the newly opened shop every Wednesday and Friday. She explained that the shops primary demographic includes women in their 20’s and 30’s who are artsy and beginning to enter into the job field. The peak hour for the store is at 6pm, as many women are on their way home from work. Jacqueline described her costumers as “trendy, weird, edgy, quiet and artsy,” all adjectives that can be used to describe the entirety of Williamsburg.
One of the primary aspects to Williamsburg is the laid-back culture. Residents and visitors of the neighborhood like to experience the neighborhood and relax outside and enjoy the community. Some parks include McCarren, Sternberg, and Bushwick Inlet Park. McCarren Park is a large park on the North Side of Williamsburg bordering Greenpoint. McCarren is a great park for kids with many spots to play sports or games, playgrounds, and a pool in the summer. On the waterfront, East River State park and Buschwick Inlet Park attract crowds to see the beautiful skyline of Manhattan or to enjoy many activities and festivals held in the area.
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- Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. Boston: Beacon, 1997. Print.
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