So much has changed in Bushwick since we first published this article just a little over three years ago. People have come and people have gone, dozens of businesses have closed while dozens more have opened. Below is the original article, updated to reflect the neighborhood as it stands today.
Ah, welcome. So you just moved to Bushwick. We might not be making it onto “coolest neighborhood” lists right now, but we still love our ever-evolving neighborhood. Your moving boxes are barely unpacked and yet you already sense that there’s more to to Bushwick than secret warehouse raves, polyamory, declining crime rates, and celebrities parading themselves at Roberta’s. But how to learn all the basics you need to know? Worry not! Your secret Bushwick posse, Bushwick Daily, is about to give you a crash course on your new home!
What’s the deal with the Bushwick borders? Is there like an official border thing between Bushwick, East Williamsburg and Ridgewood?
The answer is yes and no (like everything in life, right?). Bushwick is a NYC neighborhood, and NYC neighborhoods don’t have official boundaries. Instead, the city recognizes the 59 community districts that were created in 1975. Before that, the five boroughs were divided into wards. And before even that, Bushwick was the much larger Boswijck, which also included Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Today’s Bushwick lies within the borders of Brooklyn Community District 4, which is defined by Flushing Avenue, Broadway, the Queens border and the Evergreen Cemetery. These lines are clearly documented. But “community district” is unfortunately NOT a code word for “neighborhood.” (Look at Community District 1, for example, which is made up of five distinct neighborhoods—Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Red Hook, Gowanus and Cobble Hill…)
Bushwick is served by ZIP codes 11207, 11221, and 11237.
How big is Bushwick and who lives here anyway?
According to City-Data, Bushwick has approximately 85,000 inhabitants in the area of 1.305 square miles. Roughly 70 percent of Bushwick’s population is Hispanic. The black population comprises about 20 percent. The rest is Asian, white, or mixed race.
It’s interesting to point out that according to the Furman Center at NYU, which studies land use, real estate, and housing and urban affairs, from 2000-2012 Bushwick’s white population tripled.
What’s going on with my neighbors? Should I say hi? Can I party loud?
Bushwick has very quickly became the “hip” neighborhood in the past couple of years, but it is very important to remember to be respectful to others, even amidst a Bushwick rager. Keep the peace, smile at your neighbors, save the house parties for expected weekend nights, and be respectful to the nine-to-fivers with kids and abuelos and abuelas. Kindness and compassion can take you far, especially in Bushwick where truly diverse crowds with different expectations and interests live side by side.
Is renters insurance worth it?
Yes! Renters insurance is a great way to keep your property safe in Bushwick. Renter’s insurance is generally less expensive than many people realize. According to the New York State Department of Financial Services, “A basic policy costs around $300 a year for around $50,000 worth of property protection.”
Did you know renters insurance often protects your belongings even when you’re away from home? So, if your laptop is stolen from your car or your bike gets taken from the rack at work, your renters insurance may pay to replace them!
We recommend checking out Lemonade Insurance. A policy starts at $5/month for full coverage and you can literally get yourself setup on their phone app in 90 seconds, plus they do cool stuff like donate unused money to charities and charge a flat rate. As Lemonade customers ourselves, we think that they really are the best option. Learn more about Lemonade!
Is it true that a new bar or a coffee shop opens every week in Bushwick?
If Bushwick had a middle name, it would be “New Bar.” Follow our tag “New Places” to see what kinds of new places are popping up around you. Coffee shops, bars, restaurants are amongst the most frequent. However, many places have closed as well. NYC’s hospitality scene is a jungle, so if you want to keep your favorite restaurant open, make sure you support their business and eat out locally.
Do shop and eat out at “old” places, too. Bushwick prides itself in an amazing selection of taco places, Venezuelan, and Colombian eateries. Go find your favorites and become regulars.
With so many bars, is Bushwick drunk all the time or do you guys also work out?
Luckily, we do work out and, seriously, there are SO many good, local workout options! The other day I overheard a dude waiting for the L train on Jefferson saying that he had no idea there was a yoga studio in Bushwick. Cough cough. A yoga studio? I wanted to tell him that we have at least six yoga studios that I can think of from the top of my head – Daya, Loom, Good Yoga, Otion Front, Bhati, and Jai. (I didn’t end up correcting him but I was very tempted.)
You can get a gym membership at the super affordable Planet Fitness (locations at 777 Broadway or 329 Wyckoff Ave) or at the really awesome Green Fitness Studio, which is famous for its elite boxing teams and great body conditioning classes. Do you like Crossfit? Sign up for Bushwick Crossfit.
What’s up with all the Bushwick street art? It seems pretty big.
It doesn’t just seem big; Bushwick street art is actually really huge! Empty walls have been alluring the greatest names of street art nationally as well as internationally for several years now. (Think Banksy, Shepard Fairey, ROA, as well as really cool locals Veng, NDA, Sexer, Sara Erenthal, and many, many more.) But it wasn’t until 2012 that Bushwick-born Joe Ficalora invited street artists to paint murals on the walls of his factory. Ever since, Joe has been talking to the neighborhood property owners, securing their consent with painting of murals on their walls, and curating the world’s best street artists to paint them. Joe’s curatorial project is called The Bushwick Collective (check out the mini-documentary The NY Times did about him).
Why is my rent so damn high?
For many reasons. But first, make sure you don’t live in rent-stabilized building without knowing about it (and paying market rent). If you live in a building built before 1974 and there are six units or more, there is a very good chance your building is covered by rent regulation. Landlords frequently try to conceal this fact from their tenants. You might be able to prevent a huge rent increase on your next renewal, or even get a refund on an illegally high rent your landlord already charged you. Applicants should email [email protected] and state their address, their unit number, and that they want a copy of their registration history mailed to them at the apartment. They should also state the name of a tenant on the lease. Read more about this in Ask Sally, The Tenant Rights Attorney.
Is Bushwick even safe?
Unfortunately, the answer is again yes and no. Bushwick is historically one of the more dangerous parts of NYC, and even today we see our share of crime. But the fact is that crime rates in Bushwick are decreasing, as reported to police.
They’ve been on a downward track for the better part of 25 years, with reported rates of 7 major felony crimes, including murder, rape, robbery, and assault, at their lowest rates since at least 1990.
We recognize that not all crimes are reported, and there are far too many tales of police refusing to take reports to us to ignore. Still, the decreases in Bushwick’s crime rates are far beyond what these issues could account for — its inconceivable that over 70 murders or 2,100 robberies, as examples, simply are not reported.
As a general rule, applicable in any major metropolis, use your common sense and you should be fine. That means be aware of your surroundings, especially at night. Don’t block your peripheral vision by wearing a hood or your hearing by wearing headphones. Don’t keep your eyes glued to your phone, and it might be a good idea to take a self-defense class, especially if you’re a woman.
To remain informed about what’s going on in the neighborhood crime-wise, you can attend public community council meetings of 83rd Police Precinct third Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. at 480 Knickerbocker Ave.
How can I get involved in the community affairs even more?
Attend Community Board 4 meetings! From liquor licenses to dog poop, Community Board 4 discusses all things community, and their meetings are open to the public. Community Board 4 meetings are held every third Wednesday of the month (except for July and August) at Hope Gardens Multi-Service Center 195 Linden St. at 6 p.m.
How do you get in, out, and about Bushwick? Is the transportation good?
Yes, sort of! The L train is scheduled to shutdown in 2019, and currently messes up only occasionally. J and M subways have different schedules on the weekend (the M also skips some stops due to construction), so be on the lookout for that! As far as the Z train goes, I’ve seen it only once or twice in five years in the neighborhood and it was full of zombies, I swear.
People around here don’t ride bikes just because it’s fashionable. It’s actually really the best way how to get around this vast neighborhood. Try walking from Momo Sushi to Good Work Gallery. No thanks. Get a bike at Haven Cycles, Harvest Cyclery, Bushwick Bicycle Shop, or Shack in the Back.
But wait, isn’t the L train going to shut down?
Yes. Yes it is.
If you haven’t yet moved to Bushwick there’s a chance that you haven’t heard about the L train shutdown. Here’s the deal in the nutshell:
2012’s Superstorm Sandy trashed the Canarsie Tunnel, the over 100-year-old tunnel that carries the L below the East River. While the original plan was to shut it down periodically over the course of several years, the MTA ultimately decided on a 15-month-long full shutdown. That shutdown starts in April of next year.
There is an extensive mitigation plan and a number of public input meetings coming up.
Still, expect the worst.
Is Bushwick art really as booming as they say?
Oh yes! The Bushwick art scene has become more than legit in the past few years. With hundreds of artist studios, over 50 gallery spaces (I repeat, over 50 gallery spaces), Bushwick is the ultimate creative heaven on Earth, and we should not take that for granted. Now that you live in Bushwick, make gallery-going your regular thing and immerse yourself in all of the fabulous art this neighborhood has to offer. Check out Bushwick Daily every Thursday when we publish a guide to weekend art openings, and skim through the newbie’s guide to Bushwick art scene.
What’s up with all the pigeons in the sky? Is it like a pigeon war or something?
You have most likely noticed the flocks of pigeons flying in formations above Bushwick, and probably wondered what’s going on. Pigeon-keeping in Bushwick (and in other parts of NYC) is a very passionate and serious matter to those involved in it. Apparently, the tradition was brought to Bushwick from Italy, and Bushwick used to have well over 100 men who kept pigeons on their roofs, according to Chris Amade’s photo essay about the pigeon keepers. These days there are only about 20 keepers of pigeons in Bushwick. The pigeons are not raised to race, they are simply collected and bred and then flown to highlight their beauty – and perhaps the immortality of their keeper’s soul.
“Once you view the flocks flowing and swirling high above Brooklyn, catching the shifting sunlight, you start to see the artistry involved,” writes Chris Amade.
Is Roberta’s as amazing as the hype they’ve got?
I personally don’t remember because I haven’t had the time to stand in the three-hour line for pizza in about two years. But hey, I hear it’s still pretty good, and Roberta’s definitely deserves praise for their artistry in the food business. They grow their own produce, have published their own cookbook and, hey, lotsa celebrities ate there from the Clintons to Jay Z and Beyonce! But then again there is that loong wait!
Another way to eat Roberta’s pizza without subjecting yourself to the long wait is to have it deliver to your home. Roberta’s recently launched a delivery service! Or you can bike over to Whole Foods in Gowanus and get a frozen Roberta’s pizza pie.
[UPDATE] While they still exist, waits at Roberta’s are definitely less obscene than they used to be. But, while the much maligned Tisch family buyout never materialized, rumors that Roberta’s remains plagued by financial woes persist — so perhaps get your pie while you still can.
Everything around me is changing. Should I take photos?
YES! Since you moved to Bushwick, it is likely that you have at least a slight appreciation of visual arts. So take your camera or iPhone, and take plenty of photos. Bushwick is one of the most photogenic neighborhoods and you will be pleased to have documented parts of the changing neighborhood. If you want to show of your Insta-skills to Bushwick Daily readers and followers, snap your photos and tag them @BushwickDaily!
Where should I buy my groceries?
Our illustrator Jeremy Nguyen has mercilessly mocked people who bring in huge supplies of groceries from Manhattan as if we had no good, affordable grocery stores in Bushwick. Health food stores like Hana Natural on Wyckoff Ave, Brooklyn Natural on Bogart St or Hi Mango on Flushing Ave tend to be really overpriced though centrally located.
But a quick walk will take you to neighborhood staples like Key Food (72 Wyckoff Ave), Food Bazaar (1590 Gates Ave, 454 Wyckoff Ave), Associated (229 Knickerbocker Ave), which offer normal prices for slightly less gourmet goods. If you want to vamp up your food related community experience, you can join Bushwick Food Coop where you can shop organic food for member prices in exchange for a 4-hour per month shift with them.
Buy fresh produce every Saturday at Bushwick Farmer’s Market at Maria Hernandez Park (or during their new nine-to-fiver-friendly hours), at Mr. Kiwi’s (957 Broadway), or Angel Fruit Market (272 Knickerbocker Ave.) who both have real steals on fresh produce and other goods.
Also don’t forget to check out our article in which we compared the prices of nine supermarkets in or around Bushwick.
Can I get kitchenware around here?
Speaking of inexpensive items, you can pretty much find most of your household essentials (think bath rugs, curtains, rods, kitchenware, etc.) for super cheap at one of the many 99 cent stores either on Knickerbocker Ave. or on Wyckoff Ave. You will praise heaven, especially after your move, since many bigger stores like Target or Bed Bath & Beyond are not very easy to get to.
Can I co-work in Bushwick?
If you’re a freelancer, you will be ecstatic to hear that in Bushwick we have a number of co-working spaces, some very good. We recommend: Bat Haus (279 Starr St), which is great for individuals who are looking for a desk and a chair and are ready to start (full-time membership starts at $175); Brooklyn Desks (49 Wyckoff Ave) is a co-working space in a converted loft building, which suits small companies who prefer renting a small office (full-time membership starts at $275); 100 Bogart (100 Bogart St) is a new, industrial-feel space with individual, small company, private office, and meeting space options (full-time membership starts at $100).
Having visitors from out of town?
Are you having visitors from out of town and your couch is simply too small and roommates too messy? Unfortunately New York Loft Hostel on Varet St. no longer books rooms as it was converted into a homeless shelter! Another lesser known hostel is NY Moore Hostel, located at Moore St. It’s pretty good too. Maybe skip Bushwick Hotel on Bushwick Ave. and The Bogart Hotel both of which serve mostly hour hotel room crowds. And definitely check out Airbnb Bushwick where you can find very decent to very unique rooms starting at $45, including one particularly funky loft.
21. Is Bushwick really that cool?
Bushwick has been getting increasing amounts of press in the past couple of years, and the hype is huge. The truth is that this neighborhood is really, really awesome but maybe not in the way you imagined. You can be whoever you want to be here as long as you’re honest, considerate, and kind. It is really easy to connect with people in this neighborhood, whether it is your retired lady neighbor or an attractive twenty-something in a bar. You will likely meet people who will totally inspire and energize you. So take a slide on this energy that is so hard to come by in other places, enjoy it and use it to become the best version of yourself! Make this community proud! And don’t forget to inspire others in return.
Also contributed: Andres Toro, Maria Gotay, Brittany Natale & J. Sujin Yoon
Updated by: Andrew Tobia
Featured photo: Kevin Gerien
Disclosure: Lemonade Insurance links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, Bushwick Daily will earn a commission if you click through and get yourself some $5/month renters insurance.