A Tour of Brooklyn's BoCoCa Neighborhoods

Published on Jun 2, 2011

Bococa_map
Brian is interning with us this summer, and although originally from California, he's become quite knowledgeable about NYC. I've asked him to help out with our blog, since he's a pretty good writer. That, and because Brian uses cool words like "portmanteau."

Today he takes us on a tour of BoCoCa (yes, I know, it's one of those "broker speak" terms). All of you from Brooklyn, pretend we didn't call it that.  Just enjoy the tour.

Many Brooklyners scoff at the sound of the word BoCoCa. One of the borough’s newest real-estate terms, BoCoCa is a portmanteau combining the three northwesterly neighborhoods of Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, and Carroll Gardens. Just south of Brooklyn Heights, this area has recently become a popular destination for young families who are looking to raise their children outside Manhattan.

At the eastern corner of BoCoCa is the section of Boerum Hill, a charming area south of Atlantic Avenue. With stoops abound, the federalist style, red brick townhouses are each accompanied by a single tree out front. A leafy, spring day makes the peaceful blocks a relaxing place to wander.

Among Boerum Hill’s historic townhouses is a delicatessen known for its exquisite, French Canadian banquet. Mile End is a small, bistro-style eatery packed away on Hoyt Street between Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street. The deli opened in early 2010, and the neighborhood has since watched it serve up delectable meals to the local crowd. Here, one can enjoy the familiar Jewish-style pastrami sandwich, as well as dine on items that aren’t easily found in the rest of the city. For a savory and filling lunch, I suggest ordering a brisket sandwich with a plate of poutine. For those of you who have never tried this Canadian side-dish, it’s a mouth-watering combination of French fries and cheese curds, topped off with gravy.

Mile End never fails to get the wave of weekday lunchgoers. If the little bistro is too full, take your hot meal to the picnic tables at nearby Cobble Hill Park, located to the northeast at Congress and Clinton Streets. This beautiful, yet small park is consistently a popular spot for local families to bring their children.

Yet the beauty of the Cobble Hill neighborhood doesn’t stop here. Many of these historic blocks are lined with some of Brooklyn’s most ornamental townhouses, as well as a few of New York’s remaining few 19th century carriage houses. The incredible, opulent architecture of Cobble Hill’s Historic District can only be matched by particular areas of North Park Slope and by sections of neighboring Brooklyn Heights. These remarkable row houses have been well-maintained for well over a century, and are some of the city’s finest examples of Italiante and Greek Revival architecture.

Walk south on Court Street and experience Cobble Hill’s lively commercial center. This major artery is served by local butchers, boutiques, and mom-and-pop shops – all contributing to the healthy local life of the mixed-use community that Cobble Hill is today.

Continue south on Court Street and you will soon enter Carroll Gardens, a modest neighborhood north of Red Hook. This beautiful community is named for the unique front yard gardens that sit before the area’s nineteenth century townhouses. Stroll these sidewalks in the springtime and view the gardens’ gorgeous and colorful, blooming flowers. The townhouses along the residential side streets are set back from the sidewalk at an unusually large distance, in order to accommodate for the uniform greenery of the front gardens. This method gives Carroll Gardens its distinct feel of openness and exposes the streets to a greater amount of sunlight.

The Carroll Gardens Historic District is comprised of eight blocks in total, and houses a majority of the community’s garden-front brownstones. The townhouses are distinctly short (mostly only two stories tall), and most are of late Italianate and Neo-grec designs; both familiar styles of other historic districts in Brooklyn.

For years, this unique neighborhood has crafted itself into one of Brooklyn’s lively cultural centerpieces. Several blocks of Carroll Gardens house the taste of the local Italian-American community, and many bakeries and meat shops have remained neighborhood staples for decades. A taste of authentic gelato is never a few blocks away from the area’s local, long-running sandwich shops.

The significant architecture of BoCoCa’s townhouses is enough to understand why this area of Brooklyn has become one of the city’s most desirable places to relocate. These three neighborhoods hold onto their charm without eliminating that urban feel, which is well preserved by each local establishment. With its close proximity to Downtown Brooklyn and several Manhattan-bound subway lines, it’s easy to see why these three attractive neighborhoods are bound by its funky, new label.

I have to admit, I haven't been to that part of Brooklyn in awhile.  But this has got me thinking it's time for a return visit. Couple it with a walk over to nearby Brooklyn Heights and the promenade, and I think I know where I will be this weekend.

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