I’M RE-ACQUAINTING MYSELF WITH BROOKLYN after an absence of a year-and-a-half, and discovering my new neighborhood, Prospect Heights. It’s hardly major culture shock, since I lived in Brooklyn most of my adult life, but still, there’s a learning curve. A person has to figure out where the nearest laundromat is, which delis carry soy yogurt, exactly what time you have to re-park your car after double-parking on alternate-side days in order to nab a spot, and so on.
Sure, I rented this apartment largely for its proximity to the Brooklyn Museum, the botanic garden, and the public library, but right now, the quotidian stuff is taking precedence.
Typical Prospect Heights limestone
This morning I joined the pre-Thanksgiving madness at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket, though all I bought was a bunch of eucalyptus (I’m going upstate for the holiday and not doing major cooking). Then I went to a 12:30 class at Shambhala, a storefront yoga studio three rather long blocks away, where I was the oldest by far (I tend to be conscious of these things). This neighborhood is young, something I never felt in Springs, where gray-haired people like me go to retire.
I had lunch at my go-to café, Milk Bar (where I also raised the median age considerably), and popped into Met Food for staples. Everything I need is right around the corner, either on Vanderbilt or Flatbush Avenues – banks, drug stores, about seven dry cleaners, hardware, shoe repair – convenient as hell, yet neatly tucked out of sight of my handsome landmark block.
Then I went to Pintchik, the venerable paint store, for yet another paint sample. I’m homing in on a color for my bedroom. With the yellow living room, below, a great success (according to everyone who’s seen it), I feel I need something equally strong for the bedroom.
I started in the coral family, moved to pink, and now I’m thinking red/orange. Clearly it will be on the warm side of the color wheel, but nothing so far feels right. The Pintchik guys will get to know me well.
Of course, as I made my rounds, I checked out the row-house architecture on surrounding blocks and was fascinated by how the styles differ from older neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, and Boerum Hill, which are filled with Federal and Greek Revival brickfronts and classic brownstones. Here in Prospect Heights it’s more varied, stylistically, and closer to turn-of-the-20th-century, with lots of limestone.
Looking at the decorative detail on a short stretch of Prospect Place between Vanderbilt and Underhill, I saw several carved faces in the lintels above doorways, something I never noticed much before. It must have been a late 19th century thing; the one below even looks like a mad Teddy Roosevelt.
I’m back in Brooklyn, but in some ways it’s a whole new world.