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Get to know Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Heights was long New York’s poshest suburb. By the 1820s, investors were buying lots, drawn by the proximity (by ferry) to downtown Manhattan. Along its streets, located between Cadman Plaza and the East River, and south to Atlantic Avenue, rowhouses and churches were built, creating an elegant neighborhood that remains remarkably intact to this day. As the first neighborhood protected by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Law, blocks and blocks of 19th-century architecture have been preserved with only a few more-contemporary buildings that snuck in before the district was established in 1965. Montague Street, the neighborhood’s main commercial strip, includes local favorites when it comes to restaurants and other businesses for the necessities of daily life: a supermarket, hardware store, dry cleaner, and more. Brooklyn Heights may not be the borough’s coolest neighborhood, but DUMBO and Smith Street are among the trendier areas close by.
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History & Culture

Every block of Brooklyn Heights has reminders of the city’s past and its cultural riches. From the pulpit at Plymouth Church, Rev. Henry Ward Beecher rallied abolitionists. At the eastern end of Brooklyn Heights, Borough Hall was the seat of the independent city of Brooklyn for the first 50 years of its existence, until it merged into New York City in 1898. Poet Walt Whitman walked these streets, novelist Thomas Wolfe lived on Montague Terrace, and Bob Dylan memorialized Montague Street in song. Along the western edge of the Heights, the Promenade has stunning views of downtown Manhattan and New York Harbor, while below it is the most notable contemporary addition to the area, the new Brooklyn Bridge Park. If all of this inspires you to dive deeper into the borough’s history, the Brooklyn Historical Society is at 128 Pierrepont.

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Dine & Shop

Brooklyn Heights would not be an obviously welcoming place for a young chef to start his or her career. The restaurants on Montague Street, the main commercial artery, tend to be time-tested favorites—a few Asian restaurants, the Heights Café, and Teresa’s (serving diner and Polish fare). The newcomers, in terms of both retail and dining, are mostly familiar brands: Le Pain Quotidien, Starbucks, Ann Taylor Loft, Banana Republic. Along Atlantic Avenue, the neighborhood’s southern edge, local businesses include several Lebanese ones that have been here for decades; Sahadi’s, a market with dried fruits, nuts, and gourmet items, draws cooks from throughout the city. Many of the businesses along Court Street cater to office workers at the civic buildings nearby, though there is a large Barnes & Noble along with a multiscreen Regal Cinema. Across Atlantic Avenue, just outside the Brooklyn Heights boundary, the Court Street shopping and dining options in Cobble Hill are enticing.