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Brooklyn vs Manhattan: An Open Question

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Courtesy of Gowanus Lounge

Courtesy of Gowanus Lounge

Ever since I moved to New York, Manhattan seemed like some sort of Oz I would never get to live in. Sure I worked there, occasionally got inebriated there and slept on someone’s futon, but I never called it home. Now that I’m moving again, and recession rents in the city are actually feasible, I’ve come down with a case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

Recently, New York Magazine posed this same question, although unlike most of the people moving back to Manhattan, I don’t have a brownstone to sell and I can’t reminisce about a place I never lived in. Now don’t worry I’m not going to whip out a Venn-diagram comparing the two. This debate has been going on long enough that we all know the obvious pros and cons. But bear with me as I make a few personal observations.


[Insert joke about Meatpacking district here]. Stereotypes aside, something happens to the bars in Manhattan on the weekends that just makes them unbearable. People who normally don’t cross 14th street overrun downtown from the Village to the Lower East Side leaving a trail of broken stilettos and spilled vodka tonics in their wake. I know New York’s a big city, but where’s a girl to go to escape the clutches of Lady Gaga and throw back a beer? You could make other snarky jokes about Bushwick loft parties and the meat market that is Union Pool but at least you don’t have to wait in line for shit.


As someone who shared a bed for 3 months just for cheaper rent, it’s really hard to go from a big space back to a cramped studio. Since living in Brooklyn I’ve become addicted to square footage, backyards, and balconies. I know if I really just wanted space I could move to Jersey but god knows that’s never going to happen. But for my first attempt at cohabitation, do we really want to be on-top of each other (and not in the fun sense)? Is New York about having a cool apartment or gallivanting outside of it?


I recently looked at an stunning apartment, the stuff wet dreams are made of, but was so deep into Greenpoint, even the hated G train was far away. There’s something to be said about walking out your door and being in walking distance of almost anything. Now that it’s Fall, going for a leisurely stroll to your local train stop doesn’t seem so bad, but when winter hits you question your masochistic tendencies. Commuting to the city for work is one thing, it’s trying to get home at night when reality sets in. I’ve had countless cabbies drop me off and asked aloud “You live here?!”. Even living in Brooklyn isn’t convenient for getting to other parts of the borough. And I haven’t quite reached the level of badass-ness to bike in the winter.

Hometown Pride

When it comes to hometown pride, Brooklyn has it in spades. When you tell people you live in Manhattan, they ask to borrow some money. There’s obviously a reason why there was a mass exodus to the outer boroughs. Manhattan got to be too goddamn expensive. Of course there was and will always be parts of Manhattan that are out of reach for us, the untouchables, but there was a time when you could move to this town with “little money in your pocket”, and carve out a space for yourself. The question is, is it necessary for me to move out of my comfort zone and experience the New York that’s outside the scope of Brooklyn?

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Laura S - Spendthrift Scribe

Laura S - Spendthrift Scribe

Laura S, left the "sixth borough" three years ago to settle in Brooklyn. After working at some daily rags, she now does writing on the side but still eats more Ramen then necessary. When she's not moving residences every 6 months, eating her way through every neighborhood, and trying every microbrew known to man, she is unsuccessfully rediscovering home economics. With her binging days behind her, she's now exploring new projects and rediscovering the city that she loves (although is still prone to sliding on her knees during a Prince karaoke set).

1 Comment

  1. September 29, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Queens doesn’t even enter into the debate. It’s just not that cool, which is fine with me. Because it means I can live in a big ass apartment for a fraction of what it would cost in Manhattan or Brooklyn. I can eat great food for cheap. And I can still be in Midtown in 15 minutes. People say New York is too expensive, but it doesn’t have to be.