It’s that time of year again, and along with the weather getting warmer and the promise of sunnier days ahead, cities around the country have begun to reopen. New York City recently made a full re-open and residents couldn’t be happier.

While it may take some time to fully re-acclimate ourselves into certain activities enjoyed pre-COVID, it’s a breath of fresh air to begin getting back to some form of normalcy. With restrictions lifted, Brooklyn businesses are ready to fully welcome back both residents along with those who live outside the borough, and what better way to do so then through local community events?

Last spring and summer were tough when it came to hosting events, and while some businesses were able to do so on a smaller scale, if at all, this year is looking brighter. Weekends no longer have to only be spent in your own backyard, now they can be enjoyed exploring the fun and unique things Brooklyn has to offer.

If you’re looking to show the borough some love, then what better way to do so then to spend the day (or night) with family and friends enjoying some of these fun-filled outdoor activities? We’ve rounded up some great ways to have a good time without having to travel too far from home.

Skyline Drive-In

Who doesn’t love a good movie and a little nostalgia? The Skyline drive-in movie theatre located in Greenpoint is a bit reminiscent of the popular drive-in theatres from the 1940’s and ‘50’s. As the sun sets and cars get situated in their spots, movie goers can enjoy some of their favorite flicks along with a gorgeous view of the Manhattan skyline. And what is a movie without some popcorn and snacks? Well don’t worry because this cinema experience has got their guests covered with concessions stands filled with drinks, eats, and treats!

Brooklyn Cyclones

As one of America’s favorite pastimes, baseball stadiums are welcoming back fans and what better way to spend a weekend then rooting on your favorite neighborhood team. The Brooklyn Cyclones stadium, located in Coney Island, is ready and excited to welcome back their fans. Along with in stadium seating, fans can also enjoy a game from the luxury suites or on the rooftop. And to kick off the season, we’re giving away six box seat tickets for a Cyclone’s game in June to celebrate the start of baseball and the beginning of summer. Keep a look out for the giveaway announcement on our Instagram to be entered to win!

 

Spill the Tea Comedy

They say laughter is the best medicine, and what better way to spend a night then attending, “Spill the Tea” an outdoor comedy show located at the only outdoor amphitheater in Williamsburg. Featuring some of the best stand-up comedians in NYC along with comedy professionals, entry into the event is free.

The Tiny Cupboard

If you want to keep the laughter going then head on over to The Tiny Cupboard, an underground/aboveground performance venue located on the border of East Bushwick and Bed-Stuy.  A tiny art studio, comedy church, and a large rooftop is used as a performance space and this summer the rooftop comedy shows are back. In addition, the rooftop comedy festival, hosted by The Tiny Cupboard and Penthouse Comedy Show, is going to be held from August 26 – 29th and will include live stand up shows, podcasts, and lots of laughter.

The Paint Place

If you’re looking for something fun for the whole family, head on down to the Greenpoint Terminal Market for some outdoor painting classes. Hosted every Saturday, experienced artists will help guide you in creating a one of a kind work of art to take home. Fun for all ages and experience levels, The Paint Place hosts a variety of themed events, from bachelorette parties and showers, paint and sip, and private parties for kids, there is a whole host of fun filled classes to choose from.

Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra

If you love music, then the Brooklyn Symphony orchestra should be on your summer to-do list. Founded in 1973, the orchestra is made up of a mix of talented amateur, semi-professional, and professional musicians. On the third Sunday of each month during the summer you can head on over to the BSO for a family-friendly outdoor concert at the Brooklyn Museum. The concerts are free and tickets are not required to attend.

Artists and Fleas

The fleas are back! This creative community of sellers is ready to welcome back shoppers looking for creative and unique finds. With two locations in Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Dumbo, what better way to spend an afternoon then with some shopping. Whether you’re searching for fashion, art, vintage finds, there is something for everyone at the outdoor fleas. With different sellers each week, the treasure finds are endless.

American Princess Cruises

Do you want something unique and different for the weekend? Why not spend the afternoon whale and dolphin watching aboard the American Princess Cruise line which leaves out of Pier 3 in Sheepshead Bay.  Now in its 12thyear, guests can set sail in search of these beautiful mammals and participate in the fun filled adventure. From helping the crew count how many whales and dolphins spotted, to capturing photos and/or video, this unique experience is definitely one way to spend the day.

In addition to these fun events, Brooklyn is filled with beautiful parks, beaches, street fairs, restaurants, and the world famous Coney Island.  If you’re looking to have a good time, you don’t have to go far to do so!

As we head out of winter and into lighter, brighter, and a bit warmer days, just about everyone is ready to step outside and breathe a little of that fresh spring air. This time of year always brings with it a renewed sense of excitement, along with a desire to get outside and enjoy the beautiful afternoons that become more frequent.

 

While thinking about all of the things you’d like to see and do, there’s no better place to look then in your own backyard, figuratively speaking of course. The borough of Brooklyn has so much to offer its residents and tourists alike. From 30 miles of shoreline, to the parks, boardwalks, shops, eateries, cultural institutions, and even the tree-lined streets, there is lots to see and do right here at home.

 

For anyone who loves learning about the history of our country, Brooklyn and its origins will keep you reading for hours upon end. Not only is the borough steeped in history, but each neighborhood has a story to tell.

 

Brooklyn is comprised of approximately 66 neighborhoods, each unique in its own way. Our neighborhood spotlight shines a light on four of the many areas Brooklyn has to offer.

 

Marine Park

Located on the western most inlet of Jamaica Bay, Marine Park is situated around Gerritson Creek, a freshwater stream that once extended about twice as far inland as it does today. In exploring the neighborhood, be sure to check out one of the oldest homes, the Hendrick I. Lott House, located on East 36th Street.

 

Built in 1720, the home is now a historic landmark and in the 18th century George Washington made a stop for several days on the land nearby.

 

The star of the neighborhood is the park which bares the same name. Marine Park is one of the largest parks and boasts 798-acres of land that stretches from Shore Parkway to Avenue U and offers its visitors a plethora of things to do. There are several miles of nature trails, a baseball diamond, cricket fields, tennis, basketball, and bocce courts along with several playgrounds to explore. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can paddle a kayak out on Jamaica Bay.

 

When it comes to places to eat, there is no shortage of choices in this neighborhood (or any in the borough for that matter). On your next visit to Marine Park, check out some of the following places:

Milk and Honey Cafe – Serving up a variety of brunch/lunch options, Milk and Honey cafe also features a fun take on outside seating with their heated Cinderella Carriage pod. Reservations for the carriage are a must!….1119 Newkirk Avenue

 

The Waffle Box – Home of the “Best Rotisserie chicken and waffles,” this local eatery is serving up comfort food with a Caribbean flare. Salads, milkshakes, and ice cream cones are just some of the delicious offerings you’ll find on the menu….1682 Flatbush Avenue

 

Randazzo’s Clam Bar – Calling all fish lovers!!! A neighborhood staple for over 50 years, the history of how Randazzo’s Clam bar came to be dates back nearly a century. The family has been a part of the seafood business since the 1920’s and since then each generation continues to carry it on. An old school vibe that is causal and comfortable is just one of the many reasons diners keep coming back for seconds, and thirds….2017 Emmons Avenue

 

Park Slope

Located within the area once known as South Brooklyn, the Park Slope neighborhood was mostly farms and woods until the 19th century. Today, historic buildings still remain and it is one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the borough. Top-rated restaurants, bars, shops, organic food markets, the Brooklyn museum, and the Conservatory of Music can all be found when exploring the area.

 

Along with great food and shops, you’ll also find picturesque sidewalks and a neighborhood that emits a small-town vibe; it feels a lot more suburban than some of the other Brooklyn neighborhoods. The tree lined streets are home to beautiful co-ops and brownstones which add to its charm. It truly is “laid back living” here in Park Slope.

 

A highlight to the area is Prospect Park, the Central Park of Brooklyn. Due to its vast size, the park is situated between multiple neighborhoods. It spans approximately 526 acres of land and contains dozens of monuments and statues of notable figures.

 

The park officially opened in 1867 and it was during the American Revolutionary War it was the site of the Battle of Long Island (aka the Battle of Brooklyn).

 

After a visit to the park, check out some of the local eateries the neighborhood has to offer:

Union Hall – This 5,000 square foot facility is a bar, restaurant, and live music and comedy venue all rolled into one. Union Hall was originally a warehouse and now offers a cozy indoor atmosphere, along with two indoor bocce courts, a stately library, and a downstairs bar with music and comedy along with outdoor garden seating….702 Union Street

 

Bogota Latin Bistro – Dubbed one of the hottest Latin restaurants in the borough, this popular bistro has been serving up delicious Columbian cuisine since 2005. Along with some of their most popular drinks, margaritas and mojitos, are the signature dishes which include many kinds of Empanadas and Arepas….141 Fifth Avenue

 

V Spot – This Latin vegan restaurant serves up a selection of Latin comfort food based off of owners Danny and his brother Alex’s Columbian roots. A third partner/friend has helped the brothers to develop the business even further.  With a loyal following of customers, the V Spot restaurant is the only one of its kind in the neighborhood….156 Fifth Avenue

 

Brighton Beach

Brighton Beach, often referred to as “Little Odessa,” a Ukrainian city on the Black Sea, is located within the greater Coney Island area.

 

Before being developed, the land consisted mostly of farms, but in 1868, a man named William A. Engelman purchased several hundred acres of beachfront property and named it “Brighton Beach.” Several years later, he built the Hotel Brighton, a 19th century resort for the NYC elite, along with a racetrack and bungalow colonies.

 

Although they are no longer in existence, their history lives on through photos which can be found along the neighborhood’s historic boardwalk. A few blocks from Brighton Beach Avenue you’ll find a few bungalows still remain.

 

When strolling through this waterfront area, be sure to check out some of the following restaurants:

Cafe Volna – Over 30 years in business, this local restaurant has been serving authentic Russian/Ukrainian dishes that will remind locals off their hometown. Situated on the boardwalk, it offers up a spectacular view while dining….3145 Brighton 4th Street

 

Tatiana & Tatiana Grill – Two authentic restaurants, both offering up spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean right from the boardwalk. The menu consists of a combination of Russian, French, and Mediterranean dishes.  Whether dining at the restaurant or grill, patrons can expect an authentic meal.

 

Williamsburg

One of the borough’s most exciting and trendiest neighborhoods, Williamsburg has been loved by artists, musicians, and creatives for quite a long time, especially since rents at one time were low.

 

Since the mid 90’s and the gentrification of this once working-class area, Williamsburg has become one of the city’s most desirable places to reside, especially for young adults.

 

Along with the trendy bars and restaurants you’ll find in Williamsburg, there are also many great experiences the area has to offer. As you explore, check out the following:

Williamsburg Bridge – Named after Colonel Jonathan Williams, the grand-nephew of Benjamin Franklin (also where the neighborhood received its name), the bridge is more than just a connection to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, it’s also a popular spot for people to either walk or ride their bicycle. From the Brooklyn side it offers a great view of the city.

 

The bridge first opened in 1903 to pedestrians, cyclists, and horse-drawn carriages before being able to handle both cars and trains. At the time, it was the longest suspension bridge and was also regarded as one of the ugliest bridges. Its popularity is more so due to its size and usefulness than beauty.

 

Domino Park – Named after the original Domino sugar factory, this 6-acre public park, which debuted the summer of 2018 is situated along the East River. The refinery dates back to 1856 and was once the largest and most productive sugar refinery in the world, producing four million pounds of sugar daily in its heyday.

 

The site was also central to the growth of area surrounding Williamsburg, to the industrialization of the Brooklyn waterfront, and to the rise of New York City as a global economic powerhouse.

Today, visitors to the park can enjoy things like the elevated walkways, the sugar refinery playground, and the splash pad, along with grabbing a bite to eat at Tacocina, an outdoor taqueria. With sprawling views of the Manhattan skyline and Williamsburg Bridge, the taco stand offers a small menu of tacos, apps, and drinks.

 

Now that the weather’s getting nicer, you just might want to head on out and do some exploring!

Celebrated yearly, Black History Month is a time to learn and understand Black history and culture while going beyond the stories of racism and slavery to spotlight and celebrate Black achievement. It’s an opportunity for Americans to gain a greater understanding of the details surrounding a part of our nation’s history.

 

Many important events in Black history have taken place during the month of February. Prior to becoming a month-long celebration, Black History Month began in 1926 as “Negro History Week.”

 

Celebrated the second week of February, it coincided with Black abolitionist and writer, Frederick Douglas, and President Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays—two figures who played important roles in shaping Black history.

 

By the late ‘60s, thanks in part to the civil rights movement, Negro History Week was celebrated by mayors in cities across the country. By 1970, the event evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses, with Kent State being the first.

 

Six years later, President Ford recognized Black History Month, and in 1986, Congress passed “National Black History Month” into law.

 

It is important for Americans to be aware of and understand the struggle for freedom and equality not just in February, but all year long.

 

During this dedicated month in our country to celebrate the achievements of African Americans, one of the ways to do so is by supporting Black-owned business owners. The past year has been especially hard for small businesses trying to stay afloat during the pandemic and being able to show your love and support is extremely rewarding.

 

In a multi-cultural city like Brooklyn, our neighborhoods are filled with many wonderful small businesses. In an effort to turn the spotlight on these innovative owners, we’ve put together a selection of businesses you’ll want to support today and every day!

History & Culture

Weeksville Heritage CenterThis historic site and cultural center situated in central Brooklyn is rich in history. Founded in 1838, Weeksville was a free African American community, the 2nd largest in the pre-civil war era.

 

By the 1850’s, Weeksville was a farming village that was home to 525 families who lived in wooden framed houses. Today, there are three remaining homes which sit on what was once known as Hunterfly Road.

 

It wasn’t until the 1940’s that most of the homes were taken over by urban renewal plans. The Kingsborough Housing projects were built and Weeksville was absorbed in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

 

In 1968, a historian re-discovered what was left of historic Weeksville, and through his work, the Hunterfly Road Houses were declared NYC landmarks and the Weeksville Heritage Center was born.

 

Their mission is to inspire, educate visitors on the history of Weeksville, and illuminate a pivotal aspect of Black history. 158 Buffalo Avenue, Brooklyn NY  11213

Food & Drink

Cuts & Slices Located in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, this local pizzeria is the vision of owner Randy Mclaran, who took his passion for food and a decade of restaurant experience to open up Cuts & Slices in 2018. Offering an array of innovative toppings (think chicken and waffles, jerk shrimp, and even a vegan daily special), customers regularly line up outside for a cut or slice. 93 Howard Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

 

Happy Cork Wine & Spirits The brainchild of Sunshine Foss, the entrepreneur has created a unique and different type of business for Black and minority owned wines and spirits. Happy Cork, located in Bedford-Stuyvesant, gives off a boutique feel with its charming decor. Along with wine and spirits, the store also features a small marketplace of specialty items from local makers of color and women artists.

51 Buffalo Avenue, Brooklyn NY  11233

Home & Design

BLK MKT VintageFounded in 2014 by Brooklyn-natives, Kiyanna Stewart and Jannah Handy, the two entrepreneurs took their love of vintage wares along with their experience and opened a brick-and-mortar shop that specializes in heirlooms, cast-offs, and curiosities that represent the richness of Black history and lived experiences. While their store is currently closed due to the pandemic, their online shop is open for business. 465 Marcus Garvey Blvd., Brooklyn, NY  11216

 

Rituals + Ceremony A home goods and lifestyle store located in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, Rituals + Ceremony is the dream of entrepreneur Sarah Williams. Filled with unique and aesthetically pleasing products, Sarah wanted to create the kind of space she herself had been looking for; one filled with all things zen. Having found most of these kinds of places owned by white people, her vision was to have a similar spot she could walk into and see a familiar face. As many businesses have faced struggles due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the store is currently closed, but the online shop is open. 717B Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn, NY  11216

Heath & Wellness

HealHausFor anyone looking to nurture their mind, body, and soul, HealHaus offers a wide range of holistic practices that will help guide you on your journey. With a shared passion for healing and a desire to create a therapeutic and inclusive space inviting for all genders, good friends Elisa Shankle and Darian Hall designed a wellness center and cafe that is warm and welcoming. With an a la carte menu of experiences like Vinyasa yoga, mindful breath mediation, and couples therapy, people can explore different experiences that will help guide them in the healing process, all while feeling supported by those around them. 1082 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY  11238

 

Brooklyn BraisedThis farm-to-table meal delivery service is the brainchild of Christa Lynch that provides seasonally inspired menus offering healthy food options. Using ingredients sourced through a network of local farmers, the meals are prepared from their commercial kitchen and delivered to all parts of Brooklyn. Seeing a need in her Bed-Stuy community for healthy food options that fit into busy lifestyles, Brooklyn Braised is a proud minority, woman-owned and operated business that supports local and minority owned vendors across the country.

Style & Beauty

Papa Rozier FarmsThis Bushwick boutique specializes in all-natural beauty products, while serving as a vehicle toward a more radical mission, to help build up Haiti. Owned by siblings Rubens Amedee and Fredeline Amedee-Benjamin, the two felt helpless after the 2010 earthquake that devastated their birth country. After starting an organic farm on rural land owned by their late grandfather, the natural, handmade beauty products are made from primary crops grown on Papa Rozier Farms in Haiti. While temporarily closed until May, all of their products can be found on their website.   96 Knickerbocker Ave, Brooklyn NY  11237

 

Free Edge Beauty Studio – With extensive experience, Raven Voorhees runs Free Edge Beauty which takes a personalized, diligent approach to nail care. A Coney Island native, Raven provides her clientele with a natural approach to nail care, as well as educating them with her extensive knowledge. In addition to understanding what’s in the products used, clients can find designs that are unique and fun. Appointments are required and can be made directly online. 567 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11216

 

If there is one thing, we can all agree on is, this year has been like no other. Throughout almost all of 2020, things have looked a bit different and this holiday season is no exception.

 

As we brace for a potential second wave of COVID-19 shutdowns here in New York City, independent businesses, along with the local eateries, have shifted the way in which they operate. They have faced profound challenges throughout the year and have all had to creatively come up with different strategies to stay afloat.

 

Operating a lot differently than they’re used to has been tough, especially during the holiday season. With so much uncertainty looming ahead, it is extremely important to continue supporting the people and places we enjoy frequenting year-round.

 

Along with making customers happy, the locally owned businesses play a huge role in the economy as well as the community, moving both forward in a positive way. The success of one local business can have a trickle effect – if a business is doing well, they’ll need to hire additional staff or employees, and in turn, will look towards the community to fill those roles.

 

When shopping local, over 65 percent more of the dollar stays right in the local community compared to shopping online. Supporting these types of businesses helps keep stores open and their employees employed. Another reason why it’s important to support our local “neighbors.”

 

As we focus in on the good we can do as a community, we can support our local shops, even if it’s in a slightly different way then we’re used to. If you’re wondering how, consider some of the following ideas:

 

 

As we are days away from the holiday, there is still time to grab those last-minute gifts. Brooklyn neighborhoods are bustling with local shops and we’re sharing just a small sample of what the borough has to offer:

 

In addition to grabbing gifts (or even something for yourself) from these and other independent shops, remember to also check out your local eateries. Whether you’re looking for a meal for two, catering for a bit more guests, in search of some delicious desserts, coffees, or teas, check out some of these local spots:

 

As we close out a year that has been difficult for so many people, remember we can help make a difference by choosing small businesses.

With every holiday season comes the opportunity to spread love and cheer by giving back to the local citizens in our community. For many people, the holidays are a difficult time of year, and as a result of the current health crisis, 2020 has been especially hard on our neighbors who are experiencing poverty, hunger, and even homelessness.

 

We’ve also seen many families separated, loved ones in nursing homes isolated, unable to receive visitors, and the elderly who live alone are unable to leave their homes. This holiday season, helping those in need is more important than ever. Without our volunteers, so many of the programs available would not be possible. Whether it’s helping to pack or deliver meals, donating blood, even contributing a monetary donation, every giving gesture counts.

 

Becoming a volunteer brings about an opportunity to connect with people in your neighborhood and leaves you with a sense of purpose. It also brings a sense of teamwork and camaraderie to an organization. Giving back to others happens all year round, but the holidays are always a good time to take stock in all that you have been afforded and to pay it forward. Seeing the smiles on the faces of your neighbors or someone you’ve only just met is priceless; knowing an act of kindness is going to bring joy to another human is a gift unto itself.

 

Every city has its own volunteer opportunities, and here in Brooklyn there are many ways in which residents can give back to their community.

 

Whether you’re a first-time volunteer or someone who gives back often, we’ve put together a list of local organizations who can greatly use your help, especially during this upcoming holiday season.

ChiPs – Since around 1971, this Brooklyn soup kitchen and homeless shelter for young women and their infants has been supported by a community of neighbors, friends, and volunteers, all looking to give back to those in need.

 

Due to the current health crisis, in-person volunteer opportunities are on a very limited basis with strict requirements put in place. Despite the changes, takeaway meals will be handed out on Thanksgiving Day between the hours of 11:30am – 2pm for those in need of a hot holiday meal.

Heart of Dinner – Co-Founders and romantic partners, Moonlyn Tsai, a NYC based chef and restaurateur, and Yin Chang, actor and founder of the podcast, 88 Cups of Tea, launched the #LOVINGCHINATOWN Covid-19 relief initiative to counter the racism and isolation the Asian-American immigrant elderly have been experiencing throughout the pandemic.

Hot meals, along with care packages that include fresh produce and pantry essentials along with bulk essentials are provided on a weekly basis to those in need, with a heavy focus on the homebound elderly in Chinatown, Brooklyn, and Queens.

 

Included with the deliveries are handwritten notes written in Chinese and Korean and brown bags illustrated with messages of love and support. To aid in the relief efforts, volunteers can get involved by donating, delivering meals, illustrating brown bags, and supplying heartfelt notes.

Neighbor’s Together – This Brooklyn-based soup kitchen provides food and social services five days a week and is committed to ending hunger and poverty in some of  Brooklyn’s lower income neighborhoods.

 

This holiday season, they’ve launched their annual “Thirty Thanksgivings Campaign” which raises funds for meals served between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. All of the donations made between now and December 31st will help provide more than 1,500 healthy meals to neighbors each week. In addition, all donations made to the campaign on Giving Tuesday will be matched.

 

On Thanksgiving Day, a celebratory holiday meal will be offered. As a result of COVID-19, all meals are currently served “to-go.”

 

New York Cares – Since 1987, New York Cares has been mobilizing volunteers in response to pressing community needs. Their coat drive initiative has helped to raise more than two million coats. This year they are focusing in on providing coats to communities most affected by the pandemic. With every $20 donated, a new coat is purchased for someone in need.

 

Other volunteer opportunities include packing pantry bags, delivering meals for seniors, etc, all which can be found on their website

Maimonides Medial Center – Along with other medical centers throughout the borough, hospitals are another great place to consider both donating and volunteering your time. While they are the largest hospital in Brooklyn, Maimonides, located in Borough Park, has many different opportunities to get involved.

 

Along with monetary donations to various programs within the hospital, some additional ways in which local residents can contribute is through blood donations (temporary shortages are not uncommon during the holiday season), plasma donations, as well as supplies and other needed equipment.

 

If you’d like to contribute to Maimonides, or any other hospital in Brooklyn, the best place to find information on what is needed and how you can get involved is on their website.

Rescue City – During this time, it’s important that we also remember our four-legged friends who are always in need of support, not just at the holidays.

 

In an effort to protect the dogs who are abandoned and abused, Brooklyn-based rescue group, “Rescue City,” works tirelessly to place loving pups in their “fur-ever” home. Their mission is to save the lives of dogs in desperate need wherever they are located and to spread public awareness against animal cruelty and overpopulation.

 

In order to achieve their goal, they are always in need of donations to help make their mission a success. Donations can help feed and medically care for the pups until they are adopted. Other volunteer opportunities include lending time to roles that are a bit more “behind the scenes.” To learn more about how you can get involved check out their website.

 

Regardless of whether you decide to get involved by making monetary donations to causes and organizations most important to you or if you’re able volunteer your time in person, being able to help others less fortunate is what the holiday season is truly all about.

When talking about the city of Brooklyn, one can’t help but acknowledge the fact that it is a melting pot of many different cultures which is one of the reasons why the borough is a sought-after destination.

Of the many different ethnicities that make up our country, Hispanics are the nation’s second-fastest-growing racial or ethnic group, making up roughly 18% of the nation’s total population.

According to data from The Pew Research Center, the overall total reached 60.6 million in 2019 and based on the 2010 Census, 19.8% of Brooklyn’s population was of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.

Hispanic Heritage month, which runs between September 15th and October 15th, marks the celebration of a culture that has seen, and continues to see, great strides and accomplishments.

Originally established as Hispanic Heritage week in 1968 as a celebration that recognizes the histories, cultures, and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came to this country, it then became a month-long celebration back in 1988.

 

Interesting Fact – September 15th was chosen as the start date because it is the anniversary of the independence of five Hispanic countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

 

Over the years, there have been a great number of trailblazers and history makers who have paved the way in a variety of outlets, some names more recognizable than others.

People like Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic female astronaut (she visited space four separate times), Lizzie Velasquez, an anti-bullying advocate, Sylvia Rivera, a Venezuelan-Puerto Rican transgender person who fought tirelessly for LGBTQ rights and is credited with putting the “T” in the acronym LGBTQ, Berta Caceres, a leading environmental and human rights activist who spent her life fighting for the rights and land of the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras, and the notable Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a groundbreaking figure in modern politics.

Big name stars like Rita Hayworth, Rosie Perez, Jimmy Smits, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, and Christina Aguliera, to name just a few, have come out of Brooklyn or the surrounding boroughs, and went on to be a force in their respective fields.

When we speak of Brooklyn being a melting pot of cultures, there are quite a few neighborhoods with a strong Hispanic presence. Bushwick, a neighborhood originally founded by the Dutch, became predominantly Hispanic by the late 20th century, and today has the largest Hispanic community, many of whom are Puerto Rican with some Dominican and people from South America.

 

Interesting Fact – Approximately 80% of the neighborhood population is Hispanic and the dominant language spoken is Spanish.

 

Other areas with a strong Hispanic presence include:

East New York, originally founded as the town of New Lots in the middle of the 1600s, began to see a rise in the Hispanic community towards the latter part of the twentieth century.

Sunset Park, a sparsely developed area in the late 19th century, but one that would be called home by many Hispanic and other immigrant groups by the 21st century.

Williamsburg, an area that has not only gone through gentrification since the late 1990’s but has always welcomed numerous ethnic groups within the enclaves of the neighborhood.

Red Hook, originally a prosperous shipping and port area in the early 20th century is now home to many ethnic groups including Hispanic.

Puerto Viejo Dominican Bistro in 1940 Brooklyn NY

Along with the multi-cultural neighborhoods that many Brooklynites call home, the borough is also filled with an array of Hispanic-owned businesses which allow both residents and out-of-towners the opportunity to experience the culture.

With a wide array of culinary options, there are quite a few neighborhood restaurants to try. And despite the numerous obstacles businesses have faced over the last several months due to the worldwide pandemic, these tried and true neighborhood gems have continued to serve their patrons. Some establishments to check out include:

Puerto Viejo – This Dominican Bistro has been a neighborhood staple since 1986. Serving up authentic dishes using only the freshest ingredients, a meal at Puerto Viejo will leave you feeling like it came straight from your kitchen. – 564 Grand Avenue, Brooklyn, NY  11238

Love, Nelly – Serving Columbian inspired sweets, Love, Nelly, located in East Bushwick, pays homage to co-owner and baker Stephanie Gallardo’s mom. All of the sweet treats are reminiscent of the childhood memories Stephanie has of visiting family in Columbia and South America. – 53 Rockaway Avenue, Brooklyn, NY  11233

 

Casa Ora – This farm to table restaurant not only serves up some home cooked Spanish food, it is also focused on bringing the beauty and nature of Venezuela to NYC. In an effort to give back, Casa Ora donates a portion of their revenue to families forced to seek asylum due to lack of human rights. – 148 Meserole Street, Brooklyn, NY  11206

 

Devocion – Launched in 2006, Columbian born Steve Sutton set out to bring his customers the freshest coffee imaginable. With not one but three cafes, (Williamsburg, Downtown Brooklyn, and the Flatiron District in NYC,) this farm-to-table coffee can also be ordered directly from Devocion’s website for anyone who cannot make it to one of the three locations.

 

While these are just a few places within the various Brooklyn neighborhoods, authentic Hispanic cuisine can be found throughout the entire borough.

As we continue to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, it’s important to learn more about the people and brands whose roots are embedded in the Hispanic culture and continue to break down barriers, along with the pioneers who helped pave the way for others to follow.

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