My Brooklyn, Then and Now

The floor-to-ceiling windows provided a panoramic view of Manhattan. But I was more interested in the foreground, below me — Brooklyn.


New concrete-and-glass apartment buildings hitched up against the water near East River and Bushwick Inlet Parks. A group of people — they looked young, but it was too far to be sure — stood talking and smoking beneath the red neon sign of the Kent Ale House. Rows of silvery and green trucks waiting to be filled from the rusted tanks of Bayside oil gave way to the brick warehouses of Williamsburg, and then the rowhouses of Greenpoint.


We were staying in the Wythe Hotel in a room that was a perfectly distilled essence of what Brooklyn has come to represent: stylish yet relaxed, ironically embracing its industrial roots, with reclaimed wood ceilings, a minibar of indigenous boozes (Kings County bourbon, Van Brunt Due North Rum) and snacks (Mast Brothers Chocolate, Kings County Jerky), and one wall covered in Flavor Paper wallpaper, also locally sourced, as they say. I can’t usually identify wallpaper brands, but I knew this stuff, because my wife and I had wanted to use another design for our tiny vestibule before deciding that paying for college for our children was more important.

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