Like many of Brooklyn's more upscale neighborhoods, Park Slope was recovered from decline by community-minded working class residents, and it retains the character of a tight-knit community even as it battles the now widespread influx of bourgeois bohemians and the ensuing rise of property values.
Prior to the 1950s, Park Slope was home to many wealthy Brooklynites, who's mansion-sized footprints still line the neighborhood's verdant border, Prospect Park
. Between 1st and 2nd Streets on Prospect Park West, the Brooklyn Society For Ethical Culture sits inside the Romanesque-style mansion home of William H. Childs, millionaire inventor of Bon Ami Cleaning Powder. There's also the $8.5 million mansion on the corner of Carroll Street and Prospect Park West, one of the more stately mansions in the area and formerly home to actors Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly. Several Romanesque and Victorian mansions site between Montgomery and Garfield Places. Just a few blocks down, on the corner of 1st Street, is the 1889 mansion built for paper industrialist Henry Hulbert, a Romanesque Revival building that has since been taken over and expanded—into the first New York school to be an LEED green building—by the Poly Prep School. Also notable is the 14th Brooklyn Armory on 8th Avenue and 14th Street, which formerly housed the 14th Regiment New York State Militia best known for service during the Civil War. One of Park Slope's most interesting buildings, the Pillar Of Fire Church, is notable for the same reason it's no longer at the corner of Sterling and 7th. In 1960, two commercial planes collided over Staten Island in what was then the worst disaster in aviary history; one of the airliners staggered on for an emergency landing, but flew so low that a small miscalculation crashed it into the Pillar Of Fire church, ironically.
Speaking of Prospect Park
, the area—which was designed by Central Park
architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux—is an attraction in its own right, with a zoo
, the country's first urban Audubon Center for bird-watching, Kensington Stables
, and stage for live music
. And at the northwest corner of the park is Grand Army Plaza, the stately gateway to Prospect Park which features the Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch, a Brooklyn version of the Arc de Triomphe designed by the same man who designed Grant's Tomb in Riverside Park (see our Visitor Guide
Park Slope's two main thoroughfares—5th and 7th Avenues—are home to dozens of fine shops, boutiques, restaurants and bars, as well as a few quirkier places. Brooklyn Superhero Supply
, like most things identified with heroism and villainy, has its own double identity: the gallons of anti-gravity and cans of invisibility available for purchase in the store provide both a front and donations for the 826NYC charitable organization run by author Dave Eggers. Try on a cape and step up to the fitting room—a metal grate atop a powerful fan that will blow the cape around violently, letting the shopping superhero know how it'll react during flight. If that doesn't sate your need for the fantastic, head down towards 9th Street and Galaxy Collectibles
, Park Slope's main comic book store.
At the outskirts of Park Slope, you'll find the Brooklyn Lyceum
, a multi-purpose venue that's home to live music, theater, dancing, and even a gym, a long way away from its origins as a public bathhouse. A few blocks north, above 5th Avenue on near Union Street, is Union Hall
, where a full bar stretches the length of a wall opposite massive floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and borders a room featuring two full bocce ball courts and a jukebox as well-stocked as the bar. And thumping along below that, you'll hear live music from national acts as well as local favorites in their basement venue. Bar 4
also features live music on a recently renovated stage, offering a less poised atmosphere than Union Hall, but a grittier, livelier air. Just down a few blocks from Bar 4 is Commonwealth
, which trades mostly on a great jukebox and a subdued-yet-lively atmosphere. For a bit of food with your libations, The Dram Shop
offers some of the best burgers to be had in Park Slope and Brooklyn in general, as well as fine collections of scotches and bourbons and a whole menu of delicious foods.
Very close to Bar 4—a perfect distance, really—is Anthony's
, an Italian restaurant with moderate width problems and an unbeatable menu that features nightly specials that culminate with Monday's "leftovers" special, in which the house makes something completely new out of the previous night's surplus ingredients (and that sometimes outshine the previous special). Since Anthony's can get packed during the nights, you should keep Sotto Voce
in mind as an alternate Italian restaurant, or vice versa. The warm atmosphere there is as thick as the dishes they serve, which weight down the plates with their abundance. Both places are authentic enough that waitresses and waiters alike will repeat your order back to you with the proper pronunciation and the slightest of admonishment in their voices.
If Italian's not on the menu, there are plenty of other restaurants to choose from in food-friendly Park Slope. For the quintessential, 24-hour diner with quick service of delicious food, try Donuts
on 7th Avenue. Food conscious? Try Dizzy's
, down the street from Prospect Park. Mexican? How about Uncle Moe
's fat burritos or some margaritas and enchiladas at Mezcal's
? Blue Ribbon
can fill your need for fresh seafood and expensive-but-worth-it entrees, while Brooklyn Flipsters
—formerly the Brooklyn Burger Bar—can weigh you down with just a cheeseburger. There's also Bombay Grill
for fans of Indian food, Beet
for Thai-lovers, and Szechuan Delight
for the best Chinese food in the neighborhood.
After all that food, drink, and entertainment, head back into Manhattan or stretch out on one of Prospect Park's many open fields and watch the many games of ultimate Frisbee, catch, or soccer that are always going on.