Scenes from a Flea

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THE PERIPATETIC BROOKLYN FLEA has a new winter home. It opened last weekend for the season at 1000 Dean Street in Crown Heights. The market was jam-packed yesterday afternoon — in fact, my friend and I couldn’t deal with the level of human crush at the Berg’n beer hall right next door, so we hied off to Cent’anni on Franklin Avenue for lunch, then returned to shop.

Some 100 antiques dealers and artisans, plus 30 food stalls, fill the recently renovated 30,000-square-foot space that was a Studebaker showroom in the 1920s. Reminiscent of Manhattan’s much-mourned 26th Street Flea Market, which for decades was New York’s favorite antiques-hunting ground, the Brooklyn Flea is worth a browse for reasonably priced, one-of-a-kind holiday gifts, vintage furnishings and lighting, and assorted bric-a-brac.

Open Saturdays and Sundays from 10AM-6PM, it’s a fun new weekend activity for locals and visitors alike (much French was overheard). Clearly the place to be.

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Hello Crown Heights

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Park Place stop on the ‘S’ train. Who knew?

BROOKLYN IS VAST — a mighty city in its own right until 1898, when it was consolidated into New York City and forever after out-dazzled by its skinny neighbor across the river. Considered on its own, the borough of Brooklyn is the fourth most populous city in the U.S. (and, I hear, the third most expensive after San Francisco and Manhattan). It sprawls seven miles from the Brooklyn Bridge to Sheepshead Bay, a patchwork of amorphous neighborhoods whose names and borders shift with changing demographics.

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Old industrial building  on Bergen St, developed as offices for creative types

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Corner of Bergen and Franklin

And boy, are they changing, nowhere faster than in Crown Heights. I only stuck my toe in the waters of Crown Heights the other day, almost for the first time, when a friend and I set out to take a walk and ended up cruising Franklin Avenue, an artery exploding with restaurants, cheese shops, bakeries, wine bars, and vintage clothing stores on the northern side of Eastern Parkway, and nothing but laundromats and bodegas south of it. The Line of Yuppification, as a friend used to say, is stark.

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Little Zelda, an appealing coffee shop

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Rosebud Vintage, one of several

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Wedge, a fancy cheese shop

We discovered an elevated subway line we never knew existed (the S train, a shuttle that runs only three or four stops between major lines), scoped out some beautiful industrial buildings, popped in and out of various shops, and ended up at cozy Cent’Anni in time for happy hour (5-7PM Monday-Friday, $4 wine and  $2 crostini). Happy were we.

Below: the attractive Fez, now closed, soon to re-open

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