Home or Roam: Brooklyn, heart of NYC

Brooklyn is one of the five boroughs of New York City. Only three and half of the boroughs are really worth mentioning: Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx and West Queens. Staten Island shouldn’t be a part of the city. In fifth grade my friends and I made a petition with everyone in my class to remove Staten from the New York City name. We wrote a really aggressive letter to the mayor of New York City. He responded, assuring us that he “valued our suggestions and would consider them as soon as possible, as New Yorkers make the city, the city doesn’t make the New Yorker.” Even as a ten year-old, I knew that was total bullshit. Brooklyn definitely made me. But today, Brooklyn has no idea who the fuck I am.

There are many parts of Brooklyn that are too pretentious for even an English student to mention. Yes, grown men ride around on skateboards and vegan food does indeed outweigh normal food. Today, the street I grew up on has three different coffee shops: The People’s Republic of Brooklyn, Blue City coffee and Flying Intellectuals. They weren’t there when I was growing up. Brooklyn wasn’t cool enough then. Brooklyn is the Shoreditch of New York City. It can be a parody of itself. Regardless, I believe there is something in Brooklyn which resists the armies of gentrification with their cycle studios and smoothie shops. Unlike Shoreditch, Brooklyn continues to be the place to be. Like a phoenix, at points it appears to be at the precipice of eternal destruction. But just as its swansong begins to play, Brooklyn emerges victoriously in a guise packing more punch than the last. It’s a place which has the ability to reinvent itself, whilst somehow retaining the same allure that brought people here in the first place.

In my opinion, it’s the unique charm and character that allows it to get away with these facelifts. Maybe it’s the detention centres and prisons that happen to be placed all around the borough. Maybe it’s the slight smell of aged brie and urine, or the plastered gang signs and one dollar pizza restaurants. Brooklyn and New York City as a whole is not how it is in the movies

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The people are rude, the city is perpetually dirty, there are more rats than people, and we get the worst extremes of each season. But I think this is what makes New York what it is. The city wouldn’t be the city if you didn’t occasionally get blasted by a suspicious wave of hot steam from the ground which smells of raw fish, or if a Satan-worshipping group didn’t stalk you down the street for three blocks trying to hand you one of their mix tapes. Brooklyn is undeniably aggressive and forward.

There’s no point trying to explain Brooklyn as a whole. Constantly changing, it defies description. Brooklyn is different to each person who dares to cross its busy streets. My Brooklyn is the corner deli where they sell coffee 50 cents cheaper before 7am unless it’s a machine-made cappuccino. My Brooklyn is the cobblestone streets, the Dutch brownstones, and the huge prison which you can see the top of from anywhere in South West Brooklyn. The inmates would go on group jogs and pass my house. I became friendly with a couple of them. Some of them waved to me while I was planting vegetables in my front garden. My Brooklyn was my elderly Greek neighbour who brought over homemade moussaka. My Brooklyn was the fi re escape where my friends and I would eat greasy, take-out Chinese food and drink stolen red wine. New York can be annoying and sometimes I just want to punch it in the balls. But thousands of miles away, its clammy grasp still has a hold on me.