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Brooklyn Heights - The Historic Neighborhood North River Sailing Calls Home

Updated: 2 days ago

When you book your sail aboard Tantara, be sure to plan enough time before or after your sail to visit our neighborhood, Brooklyn Heights—New York City’s first historic district!

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn Bridge Park

We can’t think of a better place to start than Brooklyn Bridge Park. Our dock at ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina is actually in the park, right by Pier 5. 

The park is the result of a decades-long citizens’ movement dedicated to revitalizing the Brooklyn waterfront. By the 1970s, due to advances in trade and transportation, much of the waterfront was decrepit and abandoned. In 1984 the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced plans to sell the remaining vacant piers for commercial development. This sparked a grassroots campaign, initiated by community residents and carried forward by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Coalition (now the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy), to reclaim the waterfront area for public use.

Four decades later, and with the endorsement and financial support of city and state officials, the park is an environmental success story, transforming what was an environmentally hostile site into a thriving civic landscape while preserving the dramatic experience of an industrial waterfront. You can read all about the history of the park here. 

Whether it’s sports and fitness, family friendly activities, or art and nature, Brooklyn Bridge Park has it all. We won’t list everything there is to do in the park right here, especially since they’ve done such a great job of telling you themselves on the Brooklyn Bridge Park website. Be sure to check it out before your visit—you don’t want to miss anything! 

Brooklyn Heights Shopping & Dining

Brooklyn Heights Promenade

From the park it’s only a 10-minute walk to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. Enjoy a stroll along this tree-lined pedestrian walkway that offers spectacular views of Lower Manhattan, the East River, and the Brooklyn Bridge, and then stop to do a little shopping or get a bite to eat.  

We particularly recommend:

Juliannas: The current torchbearer of Patsy Gramaldi’s pizza. Patsy first opened his eponymous pizza shop in Harlem (the original is the only one to still serve pizza by the slice). After spreading across the city, he sold the chain to a group of investors and opened Grimaldi's in Brooklyn Heights. You’ll still see a line of tourists waiting there to get a table, but what they might not know is that he sold Grimaldi's as well, and opened Julianna’s, named after his mother. Julianna’s is actually in the original Grimaldi’s space (it’s a long story), with his original oven and recipe. It’s one of the best pies in the city.*  

Heights Chateau: a sprawling bottle shop with a very knowledgeable staff. Pick up a bottle before your sail!

Damascus Bakery: Two doors down from the ever popular Sahadi’s, Damascus turns out some of the city's best pita, labne, and middle eastern baked goods. Don’t miss the honey donuts they have on the counter.

Henry’s End: The best place to try wild game in the city.

River Deli: A quaint sardinian restaurant on a quiet cobblestone street, right by the marina.

L'Appartement 4F: They started a bakery in their apartment during the pandemic, and it took off.

Brooklyn Borough Greenmarket: Farmers from around the city come here on Saturday mornings. Get there early, it gets packed.

*(For the record, in our opinion the best pies in the city are Lucali’s, Juliana’s, and John’s on Bleecker. They only serve whole pies. The best pizza by the slice comes from F&F’s, Scarr’s, and L’Industrie. Pizza is an excellent choice to eat on the boat, by the way.)

Brooklyn Heights History

Brownstone Row Houses Brooklyn Heights

As we mentioned, Brooklyn Heights was the first neighborhood protected by the 1965 Landmarks Preservation Law of New York City. The neighborhood is known for its low-rise architecture and brownstone row houses, most of them built before the Civil War.

The development of Brooklyn Heights as a residential area began with the introduction of ferry service to Manhattan in 1814. Before the Civil War, Brooklyn Heights was a center of the Abolitionist movement, thanks to the speeches and activities of Henry Ward Beecher, the pastor of Plymouth Church (now the Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims). Under Beecher, so many slaves passed through Plymouth Church on their way to freedom in Canada that later generations have referred to the church as the "Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad.” 

Beecher Statue Lincoln Relief at Plymouth Church

By 1890 Brooklyn Heights was almost completely developed, with buildings designed in a wide variety of styles, including Greek Revival, Italianate, Second Empire, Victorian Gothic, Romanesque, Neo-Greco, and Classical Revival. Development started in the northern part and moved southward, so the architecture changes in that direction as the preferred architectural style changed over the decades.

In 1965, a large part of Brooklyn Heights was protected from unchecked development by the creation of the Brooklyn Heights Historic District. The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.

In addition to Henry Ward Beecher, Brooklyn Heights has been home to many famous residents, including poets W.H. Auden, Hart Crane, and Walt Whitman, writers Harriet Beecher Stowe, Truman Capote, Carson McCullers, Norman Mailer, Henry Miller and Thomas Wolfe, playwright Arthur Miller, and civil rights activist W.E.B Du Bois.


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