A Day in Fort Greene

Fort Greene is the perfect example of life in Brooklyn transformed: once a downtrodden area of Brooklyn, it has become one of the most influential parts of the city. Fort Greene is the undisputed center of the arts in Brooklyn, home of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Spike Lee’s famed production company: 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks. Let’s explore.
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Fort Greene Park

The best part of starting your day in Fort Greene is taking a stroll through Fort Greene Park. Small but utterly stunning, the legendary green space was formerly the grounds for Fort Putnam in the Revolutionary War. And today, it has the same effect as the famed Alamo Square in San Fran (the park from Full House) and you’ll just have to spend your first few hours on the grass reading your book. But look for the events board at the visitor center because Fort Greene Park holds some of best live music and art events in the borough. Before you leave, walk over the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, a 106-year-old and 149-foot-tall structure. Stop and take it in. Tomorrow, you can Google it for details of what it was erected to celebrate. Quite the story!

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Greenlight Bookstore

Off to a killer bookstore! Greenlight Books is the place to be, so make the trip over to their 2,000-square-foot space on Fulton. Since it opened in 2008, the bookstore has become one of the most beloved shops in the city. Everything in here is cool. Even the bookshelves are custom made. There are endless events happening here, and even just a stroll to the front window of the place is spectacle. Greenlight Books have a massive collection of anything and everything ever written with a New York City theme.

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Habana Outpost

The choice of a lunch venue is always a tough one in Fort Greene, because the restaurants here are easily comparable to those in Manhattan, if not better. You have cut it down to two standouts: Farmer in the Deli and Habana Outpost. The first is quite possibly the best sandwich shop in Brooklyn. The no-frills deli is no joke, and neither is having a Romanian pastrami hoagie. No wonder the place had been an institution in Fort Greene for a very, very long time. The latter is a Cuban-themed eatery with one of the best patio seating offers in the city. Habana Outpost is also known for its movie showings, and at certain times they act as a flea market. Adding to the charm, the food comes out of a food truck in the back (hence, “outpost.”) I bet you didn’t know that.

 

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Wallabout Walking Tour

Besides vast artistic and culinary scenes, Fort Greene has its history. One tour company capitalizes on that past, covering more than 400 years of the neighborhood history. Its guided tour is free: Wallabout Walking Tour. You’ll learn how the nabe was developed when the Dutch first arrived in the 1600’s and you’ll visit spots like the Renken Dairy building, which is where storied author Walt Whitman wrote most of his masterpieces. You also take a stroll past the “40 Arces and a Mule Filmworks” studio with the hopes of seeing its famed owner, Spike Lee.

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Olea

Everyone in town knows that the go-to breakfast spot is Olea. So naturally your first meal of the day is consumed right here. Not just another eggs and bacon joint, Olea is gourmet as they come, which you learn as you order the green eggs and lamb (cilantro makes them green and the lamb is merguez sausage). Careful! The first bite may put a permanent smile on your face. Olea specializes in Pan-Mediterranean cuisine so naturally the coffee won’t be so bad either.

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Urban Glass

Building on your artistic cravings, you remember hearing from a fellow Fort Greener at some point that you must experience Urban Glass. They were onto something! Part school and part gallery, Urban Glass specializes in glass sculpting, and offer five-week courses to teach us mortals how to become glass makers. The demonstrations are beyond fantastic.

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Cloth

The warmer weather and a sense of cheerful abandon encourages you to shop like a rock star. Boutique shops in Fort Greene that will quench your thirst for style are many. Cloth, located at 38 Fort Green Place, was the neighborhood's first destination for local fashionistas. Featuring styles from Velvet, Park Vogel and American Vintage, the shop even offers the goodies handcrafted by Brooklyn’s soap-maker Saipua. The second spot that’s a can’t-miss is YU Interiors, located at 15 Greene Avenue. The home decor specialist is Fort Greene’s version of Potterybarn. Theirs is an ultra-sleek style that extends from couches, to tables, chairs, lighting, accessories and decorative pillows. 

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BAM

No Fort Greene day is complete without a visit to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). The centerpiece and nexus of the neighborhood, BAM is the hub for performing arts in the city and rivals Lincoln Center. You have the choice to visit the Harvey Theater, Gilman Opera House and the newly-minted BRIC (located in the former Strand Theater). Tonight, since most of the shows are sold out, you spend the first part of the evening discovering the wonders of BRIC, which is free to visit, and is a multimedia discovery in everything Brooklyn.

A Night in Fort Greene

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Wallabout Seafood & Company

Choose the culinary indulgence for the evening. This won’t be an easy feat, since Fort Greene presents you with new American spots like Lulu & Po, which offers the scrumptious bone marrow tacos. But this evening you have reservations at Wallabout Seafood & Company. You have heard “Wallabout” a lot today and you finally find out the history of it at dinner. Wallabout is actually the name of the bay bordering northwest Brooklyn and was once a home to a famed fish market. This seafood spot does an incredible job in bringing the best of the sea to your palette. Start with the Spanish octopus and Malpaque oysters, and have the grand finale with the black squid-ink linguini.

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Frank’s Cocktail Lounge

The fun is in full swing now and you make your way to Fort Greene’s favorite late-night watering hole: Frank’s Cocktail Lounge. The craft cocktails are equally as impressive as Prospect’s, and there’s always a long list of live performers making their way into the saloon from either the DJ or a saxophone play session. There’s even a live jazz band on Thursdays, enhanced with plenty of room for dancing.

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Prospect

The seafood and the white wine have your taste buds craving more creative drinks. Enter Prospect. The bar could get busy as it is a favorite spot for Barclays Center goers, and it seats only 46. If you’re among the lucky to find room there, try some of their creative drinks like the Hemingway Sour, which is Cana Brava white rum, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, egg whites and grapefruit bitters. Your stomach may be already full, but if you do get hungry, try their homemade Baba Ganoush or truffled deviled eggs.

Words by Arte Vincent

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