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Living in Manhattan Beach

A quaint community that brims with charm and old-world character, Manhattan Beach is one of Brooklyn's most unexpected neighborhoods. It's its own entity — a peaceful, closed-in area that's decidedly very non-Brooklyn. Bounded by Sheepshead Bay to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the south and the east, and Brighton Beach to the west, Manhattan Beach is largely secluded from the rest of the city. And owing to its magnificent beachfront homes, it boasts a carefree and even resort-like vibe.

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The main road, Oriental Boulevard, is a residential street peppered with a bustling public park and several small shops and restaurants; the 70-acre Kingsborough Community College anchors the neighborhood’s peninsular end. Several mom-and-pop establishments also line West End Avenue.

Manhattan Beach real estate

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Manhattan Beach real estate is a study in history. Developed over a series of decades, its homes reflect the varied architectural styles of different eras. The contrast between the old and the new is striking: for every wooden bungalow hedged by well-manicured lawns, there’s a lavish, imposing mansion overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Scattered throughout the area is a mishmash of stucco-walled haciendas, glass-façade homes, Craftsman-style abodes and multistory Tudor properties. The neighborhood's so-called ""Apartcots"" – a portmanteau of ""apartments"" and ""cottages"" – are charming 1920s-era bungalows that originally served as Manhattan Beach rentals for vacationers. They typically feature two bedrooms, one bath and kitchens that have been upgraded, in some cases, to suit modern tastes.

The neighborhood’s proximity to the beach is especially desirable—and so, too, are the flawless ocean views spotted from nearly any waterfront home. The majority of properties are single-family homes on large lots with immaculate lawns. Some also have pools.  

Manhattan Beach history

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Manhattan Beach was originally known as Sedge Bank. When railroad executive Austin Corbin visited the area, he recognized its potential to be an upscale resort. He renamed it Manhattan Beach and repurposed the freight-carrying New York and Manhattan Beach Railway into a passenger line. This allowed guests easy access to the newly built Manhattan Beach Hotel, a Queen Anne-inspired, castle-like property with grand turrets and pristine lawns. Several years later, the equally majestic Oriental Hotel was built right next door. Life magazine even dubbed the area the “World’s Largest Privately Owned Playground.”

Areas surrounding Manhattan Beach quickly became popular for their horse racing tracks, but guests stopped patronizing the lavish hotels when New York outlawed sports gambling. As a result, the hotels were demolished, and Manhattan Beach became more residential. It was also popular for its saltwater bathhouses during this time. In 1942, the property was sold to the federal government and was used for military training purposes during World War II. By the mid-'60s, the city had claimed ownership of the land and built Kingsborough Community College along its easternmost edge.

Manhattan Beach restaurants

The foodie culture that permeates Manhattan Beach is enough to satisfy residents who crave a little bit of everything. Along Oriental Boulevard, locals head to Hot Potato House to quell their latke longing or to tuck into any number of other tater-based dishes. Another favorite, Panini Tozt Cafe, resembles a convenience store in front but gives way to a cozy, exposed-brick dining room. For truly local flavor, residents turn to family-owned Papa Leone Pizzeria for their pizza fix. Serving Manhattan Beach since 1974, it offers a menu jam-packed with pizzas that go beyond the basics, like the seafood-strewn South Brooklyn Bake and the cheesy Vodka Ravioli.

In and around Manhattan Beach, seafood reigns supreme. Randazzo's Clam Bar in neighboring Sheepshead Bay doesn't disappoint with its wide selection of fish specialties, Blue Point clams, steamed lobster, fried calamari and more. While just about any dish on the menu is game for dipping in the casual waterfront eatery's addictive red sauce, it's especially tasty paired with the chopped scungilli, a delectable type of sea snail.

Manhattan Beach attractions

Outdoor attractions abound in Manhattan Beach, starting with lively, 43-acre Manhattan Beach Park. It’s home to two playgrounds, multiple baseball fields and a boardwalk, plus courts for tennis, volleyball and basketball. Kingsborough Community College has its own private beach, which is free for students and faculty members. Beach passes are provided to others upon request. The main public beach has picnic tables and beach mats, and it’s an especially popular gathering spot for weekend barbecues.

Manhattan Beach shopping

There’s a bookstore and convenience store on Oriental Boulevard. But just a five-minute drive from Manhattan Beach is Brighton Beach, where most locals go to do the rest of their shopping. Brighton Bazaar is perhaps chief among the area’s popular grocers – customers at this sprawling supermarket browse myriad produce and pantry staples as well as ready-to-eat dishes typical of Russian and Eastern-European fare.

Manhattan Beach nightlife

One of the best examples of Manhattan Beach nightlife – if not the most impressive – is Anyway Cafe. On Oriental Boulevard, it’s a gritty-meets-cozy bar where delicious food and quality entertainment go hand in hand. On any given night, jazz bands perform live as patrons sip martinis and fruit-infused vodkas.

For cultural experiences, Kingsborough Community College offers a bevy of options. The school’s On Stage at Kingsborough program hosts dance, music, family and theater performances from September through May. The free  “Hot Summer Nights!” concert series takes place each July in Kingsborough’s Lighthouse Bandshell.

What's In The Area: Manhattan Beach

Driving Walking

Local tips and information for going out in the Manhattan Beach from The Corcoran Group. Explore dining, shopping and nightlife.

All Manhattan Beach tips




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