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Brooklyn-bound: the evolution of Bed-Stuy

Written by 27 September 2013 6 Comments

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I moved to Bed-Stuy a couple of months ago with mixed feelings. Was this part of Brooklyn going to be an unsafe area for a young travelette? Or was it going to be an inspiring environment with a unique vibe?

After a bit of online research I decided to pack my suitcase and go find out for myself. Despite the neighborhood’s bad reputation, I wanted to feed my curiosity. For an adventurous soul, that’s the only way. Get out of your comfort zone, pack your suitcase and start exploring.

To start with the end of this story: I love Bed-Stuy.

The vibe here is much more laid-back than in chaotic Manhattan. I know my neighbors by name, and I’m able to see the sky. The overall atmosphere is sunny and welcoming. Here’s a little bit of information about this bubbly area with a notorious name.


Bedford-Stuyvesant, colloquially known as Bed-Stuy, is a large neighborhood in Brooklyn. For decades, Bed-Stuy has been known as the cultural mecca of African-American population. It’s home to the second largest African-American neighborhood in US, after the city of Detroit.

In 1936, African-Americans left Harlem in the search of new housing possibilities. Now, the area is in transition and has become home for people from various different backgrounds.

Bed-Stuy is sandwiched between more well-known neighborhoods, like Williamsburg and Crown Heights and often gets described as an emerging and sprawling district. In previous years the area was known for its high crime rates, nowadays news travels about its lovely organic cafés, farmer’s markets and restaurants.
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The long list of talent
Recently, the neighborhood has earned worldwide reputation as the hot spot of thriving arts. Bed-Stuy first gained recognition as the setting of several movies by director Spike Lee. Talented performers, like Jay-Z, The notorious B.I.G., Chris Rock, Norah Jones and Mike Tyson grew up in the district. It’s rare for this much talent to rise from one relatively small area.
Bed-Stuy is safer than it was twenty years ago, because of the gentrification that started in the late nineties. There are still some issues with poverty and crime, even though both are on the decrease. It’s also more and more patrolled by NYPD, but I would not recommend wandering around the area alone after dark. If you want to take a stroll, do it in daylight and with a group. Using common sense is key to explore B-Town.
How to get there?
Bed-Stuy can be reached from Manhattan via the fast A and C trains. Subways or bikes are the best way to explore Brooklyn in general.
There are 18 different subway lines in Brooklyn, most of them connected directly to Manhattan.
 Cycling is booming in New York, thanks to the Citi bikes, launched in May 2013. These convenient and  inexpensive blue bicycles are available for everyone, all day everyday and from everywhere.
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Why come here?
The district still contains the hints of the real Brooklyn. It’s a very special place when it comes to friendliness and warmth of the people. There is still some seriously gorgeous architecture, a strong sense of community, small gardens and homegrown businesses. The streets are lined with beautiful brownstones and churches to adore.

The best donut you’ll ever have can be purchased at Dough, a great little bakery all about the sweet treat. It’s located on 277 Franklin Avenue and specializes in donuts and luscious cafe choices. There are many different flavors available, but the plain donut gives you the taste of the famous dough. It’s indescribably mouthwatering, light and scrumptious. Get in line and prepare to wow your tastebuds.

Another fun and out of the ordinary option is Tip-Top bar & grill, on 432 Franklin Avenue. The clientele includes gold-toothed regulars sipping scotch next to art students from the nearby university. The place has no menu, so you will never know what to expect from the grill. Tip-Top has been on Franklin for 40 years, the first 30 years without a license. B.b. King and other goodies can be played from the jukebox, situated next to always blinking Christmas lights.

If you are looking for some real deal meals, power yourself up in West Indian and American restaurant called Do or Dine, on 1108 Bedford Avenue. This homelike restaurant also welcomes  vegetarians to check the interestingly mixed menu.

It seems like in the past twenty years, the faces in the area have changed, but the roots have remained the same. The best things about the area are the varying arts, cultural diversity and mix of old and new. Bed-Stuy still has the remains of harsh times. Just in prettier frames.


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  • Georgina said:

    Loved this post! I don’t know Bed-Stuy as an area but have to check it out (especially Dough!) now when I’m over in NYC next month!

  • Lorraine said:

    Great post, I like your writing. Also, I love Brooklyn for its talent and that’s what drew me to this post. I will check out more stories!

  • Danielle said:

    I love Bed-Stuy! From the little I know about it anyhow :) I left New York before I had a chance to really get to know the neighborhoods my friends live in now. It’s so nice to read a little history and hear they’re doing well though! Thanks so much for sharing. I so miss the city!

  • Nicole said:

    Very gorgeous. I love things like this. =)

  • Rita (author) said:

    Thank you guys for lovely comments. Danielle, if you ever get a chance to go back, please do so. There’s a lot of hidden gems in the area to be explored.

  • Heather said:

    I have only been in NYC once,and I didn’t get much of a chance to explore Brooklyn, but it’s on my list. Now, so is Bed-Stuy! (Plus I *love* the shortned name)

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