Bushwick is a land of authenticity and changing landscapes. Bars, cafes, artists – there’s a lot going on in this bohemian community. Alas, as more people move in, it’s harder to find quality, low-priced apartments. The following descriptions are a selective, not exhaustive, subway stop by subway stop breakdown of where to live and why.
Technically, this is East Williamsburg. Back in the day, we called it Bushwick because it was the closest major outpost to Bushwick proper (just across Flushing Ave). These days it’s Morgantown, a bourgeois community of the artistically affluent. Most of the quality property has been snatched up already, and rent is no longer “cheap” (under $800 a month). But you pay for what you get. Brooklyn classics such as Roberta’s have maintained, even after the former Secretary of State ate here, good service, a cool vibe, and excellent pizza. And because it’s still fifteen minutes from Union Square it’s close enough to be the last stop on the yuppie train.
The bottom line: If you can afford it, Morgantown has a lot to offer, even if it’s not technically Bushwick.
Over the past year there has been a flurry of activity in Jeffersonton. Property is more readily available off this stop than at Morgan, although it can still be pricey, especially for loft space. As gentrification has spread up Knickerbocker Avenue, it has led to a largely amicable relationship between Hispanics and Hipsters. One of my favorite examples is Mominette, whose sign-less exterior is wedged between a loosie-selling bodega and a laundromat. It’s one of many new bars and restaurants off this subway stop, along with tried and true favorites such as Tandem and Los Hermanos.
The bottom line: Jeffersonton is still up and coming, and if you want a blend of youthful scene and neighborhood character, it’s probably your best value.
There are only a few blocks between Jefferson and this stop, but in that gap is a world of difference. The number of Chinese restaurants with bulletproof glass is a sign that Williamsburg-style gentrification is still a couple of years away. Rentals are cheaper than near Jeffersonton, and it’s just a short walk to the many bars and restaurants in the area. If you’re not intimidated by the extra few minutes on the train, DeKalb has plenty of value. Plus, the bodega near the south entrance to the L offers some of the dankest sandwiches around – their three flat screens show a hundred options, and they’re open all night.
The bottom line: If you want to live on the edge of “safe” Bushwick, DeKalb is a great option. And with easy access to Jeffersonton’s scene, you can avoid paying a premium for great nightlife.
I was once waiting at this stop for my friend to text me directions to his party when I heard a black guy talking about how punk-ass white kids are moving in, changing the neighborhood. I stopped and asked him why he was hatin’. He was surprised and sheepish. We wound up chatting about how he lived here back when it was the toughest place in the entire city. We exchanged numbers and although I never called him, it was still a pleasant interaction. While there are a couple of bars and restaurants in the area, the real reasons to live here are for the L/M transfer and the cheap accommodations.
The bottom line: If you’re a lady walking around alone late at night, this may be a little deep into Bushwick for you. But if you want to save and live with three of your best friends, Myrtle-Wyckoff isn’t a bad look.
Long considered Bushwick’s final frontier, the Halsey stop’s main draws are loft space and cheap condo living. Halsey is far though, and with little to do in terms of bars and restaurants, you will likely have to invest in a monthly MetroCard to experience any sort of night life. On the other hand, if you have a band, need a painting studio or just want a more secluded Bushwick lifestyle, Halsey could be the perfect place for you.
The bottom line: Halsey is deep, cheap and a fine place to live if you want to hole up and produce some good art.
The M train goes to the LES, Nolita and the West Village before it heads uptown. Although it doesn’t go into Manhattan on weekends, we all know there’s so much going on in Bushwick there’s really no reason to leave. If you must, however, Canal’s only fifteen minutes away on the J. While the bar scene is a little grungier than in North Bushwick, newly opened Bizarre and Skytown are signs that a more posh clientele is moving in. And since there’s more diversity here than in other parts of Bushwick, it can be easier to exchange ideas with others than it is off the cliquey L train Bushwick stops. Myrtle-Broadway, or Downtown Bushwick as I like to call it, may not be as aesthetically pleasing as other areas in Bushwick, what with the broken sidewalks and the above-ground train, but these elements add a different artistic energy to the air.
The bottom line: Because it’s cheaper to live off the JMZ than the coveted L, you’re likelier to encounter the bohemia that Morgantown used to be.
This stop is a gateway to the restaurants and cafes on Wilson and its eponymous avenue. Maria Hernandez Park is close by too, and property is cheaper than if you live off the L train. True, you have to wait for the M shuttle to take you one stop to Myrtle-Broadway on the weekends, but if that doesn’t bother you, Central Ave is definitely worth a look.
The bottom line: For a slight M train inconvenience you get a “Central” location, with Broadway and Bogart both a walk away.
Now that M service to this stop has been restored, look for new bars and cafes to open in the coming months. In the meanwhile, you can easily walk to those near Jefferson and DeKalb, while saving a little more on your monthly rent. Thirty years ago, Knickerbocker Avenue used to be crack alley. Today there are heaps of stores and services (think lower Graham Ave) and a Burger King.
The bottom line: With a number of inexpensive retail stores and banks, and bars and cafes within walking distance, this stop is a sleeper ready to wake.
We hope this quick survey of selected Bushwick subway stops has helped you decide where to move, or at least hang out, according to your needs. Perhaps the best part about Bushwick is the quickly shifting demographics. With so many new people moving in all the time, by this time next year, gentrification will have taken another step, apartment prices will likely be higher, and you may have more young, hip neighbors. Whatever your background, these are factors to consider, whether you’re moving to Bushwick for the first time or you’ve been here since the old days.