Williamsburg suffers from multiple personality disorder. Just one subway stop away from Manhattan in the Brooklyn neighborhood, you’ll find a large Hasidic Jewish community, a glut of ethnic enclaves, including Polish, Puerto-Rican, Dominican and Italian, a working-class neighborhood, and a hipster theme park (hipster: by definition, is one who possesses tastes, social attitudes, and opinions deemed cool, by cool people).
Thanks in part to a hyperactive gentrification process that spurred an explosion of theater, art and music venues, not to mention a culinary scene that rivals Manhattan, Williamsburg has gone prime time. The sitcom 2 Broke Girlschronicling the lives of two struggling waitresses at a Williamsburg diner who aspire to open a cupcake shop, debuted on CBS during the 2011-12 television season. Storylines have included a fight over a Strokes T-shirt in a Williamsburg Goodwill thrift shop and a ‘90s-themed party to repay a student loan debt.
A Vibrant Lifestyle
With its mish-mash of cultures, numerous cafes, restaurants, boutiques, vibrant art scene and close proximity to Manhattan, Williamsburg is considered to have some of the most desirable real estate, outside of New York City. Williamsburg borders Greenpoint to the north, Bedford-Stuyvesant to the south, Bushwick and Ridgewood, Queens to the east and the East River to the west.
In 1638, the Dutch West India Company purchased the land that is today’s Williamsburg from the local Native Americans. The area was comprised mainly of farmlands, rolling hills and meadows, surrounded by bodies of water.
Around 1792, Richard Woodhull, a wealthy New Yorker and operator of a ferry to Manhattan, purchased 13 acres near what would later become Metropolitan Avenue, with hopes of attracting wealthy industrialists to suburban life and relief from overcrowded conditions in Manhattan. Mansions built by Manhattan’s elite soon began popping up along the shoreline.