New York 101: Hipsterburg

Hipster in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

“I live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which is a very hip, cool neighborhood in New York.

And really all that means is that I’m constantly surrounded by pretty girls who wear defiantly ugly clothing, and a lot of dudes who look like they’re about to go operate a steam engine.”

—Joe Mande

Things to do in Williamsburg for free!


If graffiti, bikers, and hipsters could blend to create New York’s coolest neighborhood—it is and always will be Williamsburg. Even though Brooklyn felt like home, the moment I moved into Bay Ridge 5 years ago, there is something liberating about Williamsburg.

It might have something to do with writers and artists that moved into this part of town when it was still in shambles. They helped transform what were warehouses and garbage dump into a place where real estate is now booming and where the artists have eventually been bought out.

Graffiti of woman hugging her lover
Graffiti of a woman clasping her lover close to the Starbucks on North 7th St.
Check out ‘Free Tours By Foot’ to learn more about graffiti in Williamsburg and Bushwick

My dog and I are friends with an artist couple that lives in a building next door. They told me how difficult managing rent has been for them over the past few years.

They were one of the first to move into the neighborhood when it was at a cusp of change. Now, their building has been sold off to a private builder, with plans to tear the old structure down and turn it into modern condominiums.

My dog loves playing with theirs. Her name is Daisy. She is nimble-footed like a cat. Each time she sees us, she perches herself like a Sphinx in the middle of the road, so her parents can’t leash her away.

The first time I met Daisy and her peeps, I noticed how easy it was for me to open up to them. I observed kind faces and keen eyes, patient to hear my story. But, I also noticed drooped shoulders and knotted brows laden with the burden of an uncertain future.

One amongst many glass and steel towers that rent at $4500 for a compact 2-bedroom

If you find yourself in Williamsburg, be rest assured you’ll make friends. People have enough time on their hands for a leisurely chat. They’ll point you to the best cafes if you’re a coffee connoisseur.

And if people/coffee are not your thing, walk into dive bars for local flavors of seasonal beer, pick up trinkets in artsy vintage shops, or try fine dining options of any cuisine under the sun.

Cafe Mogador is my go-to when I am craving Moroccan, the Egg Shop when I have time for a lazy brunch, and Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream—when I think I’ve earned it! (Even though I clock more than 10,000 steps in the city everyday).

If Brooklyn doesn’t match up to your standards still—walk across Williamsburg bridge back to Manhattan. It will be a better walk than what tourists usually do across Brooklyn bridge.

You’ll get dynamic views of Manhattan on one side and Williamsburg’s graffiti splayed walls on the other. The East river will be a song in between with the subway interrupting your silent reverie like a drummer lost in his own beat.

To me, the bridge offers novel ways of exercise whenever I decide to jog with my puppy over to the other side. I try to keep my eyes fixed on the Empire State building that plays hide and seek as it disappears and reappears in my line of vision.

Along the way I am greeted by Hasidic jews walking to-and-fro and trendy hipsters on their bikes. The two could not be from more opposite worlds. Yet only in a city like New York—geography and time have brought them together, face-to-face on their daily commute.

View of the Empire State from Williamsburg Bridge

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