Tucked behind the Brooklyn Navy Yard in central Brooklyn is the quiet residential neighborhood of Clinton Hill. Once a strictly working-class neighborhood, Clinton Hill has become known for its elegant brownstones and stately mansions that were built as Manhattanites crossed the East River in the 1920s in search of the supposed health benefits that came from living “on the hill,” which has an elevation of 95 feet. Now you will also find newer luxury apartment and condo buildings interspersed throughout the neighborhood.
The Pratt Institute and St. Joseph College give the area a certain energy that comes from having a college in your town, while it’s leafy streets, some with their original cobblestones, and slower pace attract young families. Millennials and professionals are flocking to Clinton Hill in search of a reasonably priced neighborhood that offers both nightlife and an easy commute to Manhattan. Clinton Hill is a beautiful neighborhood with a suburban feel and firm roots in its past that also offers plenty of urban amenities.
New businesses are showing up in Clinton Hill on a regular basis, adding to the current proliferation of coffee shops, restaurants, and bars. As the population changes, new entertainment and nightlife venues are migrating to the area to meet the demand. Barclays Center is within easy walking distance, offering exciting sporting events and concerts.
The Pratt Institute. Opened in 1887, by oil baron Charles Pratt, with the goal of providing people from all walks of life with trade skills and education, upon which they could build better lives for themselves, the Pratt Institute has earned a reputation as one of the country’s finest architecture, engineering and fine arts schools. The campus is a beautiful place to go for a summer stroll through the rose gardens. The architecture is stunning, as befits such a school. One of the more unusual features of the campus is the Sculpture Park, which consists of a rotating display of sculptures, arrayed throughout the campus, offset by beautiful green lawns. The Pratt library was, at one time, the first free library in NYC. Pratt offers many programs that are free and open to the public. Located at 200 Willoughby Avenue.
Body By Brooklyn. Want to treat yourself to a day of luxurious pampering? Head to Body By Brooklyn for a body treatment or massage, hang out between treatments in the martini lounge, catch up on TV in front of the fireplace, or have a bite of gourmet cuisine. Spend the day at the European-style wet lounge, where you can experience the therapeutic benefits of hydrotherapy in the Swedish or Russian sauna, a Turkish aroma steam room, soaking pools, jacuzzis, a thermal hot tub, and a cold plunge pool. Be prepared to feel like a wet noodle by the time you leave! Located at 275 Park Avenue.
Su’juk. Have you heard of a one-stop shop? That’s Su’juk! A quirky little vintage boutique and salon, where you can walk in, and then walk out a few hours later, looking like a whole new person! Get your hair styled or colored, have a mani/pedi, sport a “new” designer vintage outfit, buy your bestie a unique gift, take home some instant ambience in the form of a luxuriously scented, handmade candle - and - if you go on the weekend, get your Tarot cards read so you’ll know what lies in store in your career or love life! Located at 216 Greene Avenue.
Corkscrew Wines. If you’re looking for a new favorite wine, check out this unusual wine boutique that focuses on family- and female-produced wines, that are grown, produced, and bottled in a farm-to-table manner. An added bonus is that the store itself is green, being made from recycled and repurposed materials. Down to earth? You bet! Located at 489 Myrtle Avenue.
Urban Vintage. Fine food and rare treasures, all in the same place - what a find! Inside, you’ll find jewelry, accessories and home decor items. Shop ‘til you drop, and then revive yourself with delicious sandwich or wrap, based on authentic family recipes. Located at 294 Grand Avenue.
Green in BKLYN. Searching for ways to green up your life and home? Look no further! Here you will find all of your environmentally friendly products, as well as natural, organic, sustainable, recycled, fair trade and solar-powered items. Whether you’re in need of cleaning supplies or want to give a thoughtful gift to that hard-to-buy-for friend, you’ll find what you need here. Located at 432 Myrtle Avenue.
The Mayflower. Ah, date night! Does anybody know of an intimate, cozy little bar where you and your sweetie can canoodle to your heart’s content, and then get a table for some classic Italian noodles and gravy? Try the Mayflower, which is nestled away in Aita, an Italian restaurant. Make a reservation at the restaurant, and then arrive at the Mayflower very early - cozy means tiny, and it fills up fast. The unique, artisanal drinks are strong and tasty, but reasonably priced. Located at 132 Greene Avenue.
What You Might See
Due to the stunning historical architecture in Clinton Hill, the neighborhood is popular as a backdrop for films, so if you take a stroll down leafy Willoughby Avenue,you might see a film crew in action in front of the brownstones. Films desiring a more commercial backdrop have sent their film crews to Dekalb Avenue to capture the atmosphere of the restaurants and boutiques there.
If you want a unique New Year’s Eve experience, head over to the Pratt Institute, where the chief engineer treats the neighborhood to a “concert,” of sorts, performed by vintage steam whistles, such as the ones used on old-style luxury ships. You’ll find yourself enveloped in massive clouds of steam and hear sounds that were designed to be heard over vast distances. Earplugs, anyone?
What’s In The Future
The housing market in Clinton Hill is diverse and dynamic with new development and renovation of older properties taking place throughout the neighborhood. This trend is expected to continue. There are generally a lot of rentals available, due to the transient nature and turnover created by college students cycling through the Pratt Institute and St. Joseph’s College.
What You Might Not Know
Walt Whitman, often considered to be the greatest American poet, lived in Clinton Hill at 99 Ryerson Street. Efforts are currently underway to get this home, where he wrote Leaves of Grass, designated as a historic landmark. Unfortunately, the house has been significantly altered over the years, so there are strong objections to giving it landmark status. What many don’t know is that Whitman was gay, and he advocated celebrating our differences and the creation of a gay community. Whitman’s historical significance to the LGBTQ+ community is seen as adequate reason to landmark the house, in spite of the owner’s objections.
What We Love
Clinton Hill has great public and private schools, so it is a perfect location to raise a family. Even though you are still in the city, Clinton Hill feels like a small community. Even with Manhattan beckoning from across the river, Clinton Hill offers a full suite of entertainment, dining, and shopping experiences, especially along Myrtle and Dekalb Avenues. Transportation is very convenient, with a huge number of subway lines, buses, and the LIRR. The stately brownstones offer spacious accommodations for larger families, but there are many different types of housing available, from wooden-framed houses to stunning mansions, and there are reasonable rentals available due to the high student populations. The stunning architecture in many different styles makes neighborhood walks a feast for your eyes. Barclays Center is nearby, if you like sporting events and concerts.