Brownstones, cobbled streets, and a promenade overlooking the East River greet visitors of Brooklyn Heights, New York City’s first historic district. The charm of the neighborhood is apparent when you stroll down one of the streets. It’s a charm that locals are proud of and have done everything in their power to preserve since the first residents established roots in during the 1830s. (Rumor has it that neighborhood regulations to help preserve the character of the neighborhood, include restrictions on the types of flowers residents can plant in their window boxes). And, it’s a charm that today attracts the film industry to area. A Brooklyn Heights street can transform into a scene from the 1950s or a quiet urban setting for a romantic comedy with just a few quick and temporary changes to cars and awnings. But, while charm may be what brings the tourists and the movie stars, the neighborhood has built its reputation on one of affluence–with town houses selling for as much as $8 million and one-bedroom rentals costing nearly $4000 per month. The combination of affluence and preservation has caused the unfortunate perception that neighborhood residents are uptight and resistant to change.
But, Brooklyn Heights is special. A walk down Middagh or Orange Street will make you feel like you’re walking through the original Brooklyn, because you are walking through the original Brooklyn. It was an early suburb, before that meant single family homes and white picket-fences. In fact, some of the world’s first commuters lived here, taking a ferry across the East River to work and another back home at the end of the day. Maybe it is a bit uppity. But, maybe it has a reason to be.