My copycat neighbors

The Brooklyn Paper
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Maybe we should start calling Fort Greene, Park Greene. Or Fort Slope. Or Port Sleene. The neighborhood long known as the artist’s alternative to Park Slope has, of late, been taking tips from its stodgier, uptown neighbor. From supermarkets to restaurants to procreation, Fort Greene is becoming a copycat neighborhood.

In the past year alone, Fort Greene residents have witnessed Myrtle Avenue, from Flatbush eastward, sprout boutiques and restaurants that could have easily taken root on Fifth Avenue. The march of 12-story buildings along Park Slope’s Fourth Avenue border is being followed by high rises along Myrtle Avenue and Fulton Street. And of course, no discussion of Park Slope and its imitators would be complete without mention of coffeeshops, supermarkets, and babies.

“Certainly when you walk around the neighborhood these days, between the baby strollers the Wall Streeters, the Subarus and the hybrids on the streets, it has a little more of a Park Slope vibe,” said Andrew Simon, a magazine editor who’s lived in the neighborhood since 2003.

He’s not the only one to notice the change. For yuppie’s sake, Union Market is coming to the neighborhood! Marko Lalic, one of the three partners behind the upscale grocery store, told The Brooklyn Paper that a number of his customers had moved from Park Slope to Fort Greene, and had asked him to follow suit.

Two Fort Greeners have even decided to open a food co-op, a la Park Slope Food Co-op, and are fast garnering interest via their blog,

And then there are the coffee shops, which have been sprouting up like so many Arabica plants in the Panama sun. Just a few years back, Tillie’s, on DeKalb and Vanderbilt, was the freelancer’s only reliable spot to grab a cub of joe and free Wi-Fi. Now, much as Slopers can bounce from Naidre’s to the Tea Lounge, Fort Greener’s can coffee-shop-hop from Bittersweet, to Smooch, Urban Spring to Bidonville.

In fact, even Greg Wolf, the owner of Park Slope’s legendary Tea Lounge, has considered opening an outlet in Fort Greene.

“We’ve been asked by a bunch of customers who’ve moved there,” said Wolf. “And we do have plans to expand there.”

Even our parks are taking tips from Park Slope! Now, locals can adopt benches in the park via the Fort Greene Park Conservancy, an idea modeled on the long-time Prospect Park Alliance program.

The result is that Fort Greene has acquired a distinctly less edgy vibe. Stores cater to the arrived, rather than the up-and-coming, the mainstream, rather than the avant-garde.

“When I moved to Fort Greene a decade ago, I was moving here for, frankly, a very distinct black bohemian vibe,” said Myka Carroll del Barrio, whose peregrinations from Washington Park to Washington Avenue to Downing Street in Clinton Hill have followed the gentrification of the neighborhood.

“In the ’90s, Fort Greene was kind of known among a certain community of people as the place Erykah Badu lived,” added del Barrio. “In the past decade, it has definitely become a lot more mainstream.”

But it’s not all doom and gloom for Fort Greene. For one, there are far worse things than looking like Park Slope (it’s not like Fort Greene has begun resembling Albany, or even the Upper East Side, for that matter).

As much as Fort Greene changes, it can only change so much.

“There’s sort of a built in diversity in this area,” said del Barrio. “You have St. Joseph’s University and Pratt, and you have the community that seems pretty sure it’s not going anywhere. … And to this day, I haven’t seen or heard any plans for a Starbucks or Duane Reade.”

Not yet, anyway.

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Reader Feedback

Myka Carroll Del Barrio from Fort Greene says:
Hmmm....That last sentence is attributed to me, but I'm reasonably sure I didn't say it, as I *have* heard that Starbucks has considered a location in the neighborhood and I have no idea about Duane Reade (and Walgreens is already coming to Myrtle).

In any case, the only thing you can count on in New York (as in life) is change.
March 7, 2008, 12:17 pm
couldbeworse from Fort Greene says:
Actually, there WAS a Duane Reade on Myrtle Ave., until they knocked it down to make room for another bigass condo building. Thanks, gentrification!
March 11, 2008, 4:31 pm
DK Holland from Fort Greene says:

You seem to have a grey cloud above your head. Cheer up!

And if you could inform your editor: the area you describe is not Fort Greene its Fort Greene / Clinton Hill. Two of the places you cite Myka has having lived are in Clinton Hill, including her current address. Remember when I sent you the boundaries of the 3 neighborhoods back in October? Check out the last Hill - I published the borders there too. Time for an update at Brooklyn Papers!

Also, saying because we are starting to have more services and ergo we are like becoming like Park Slope is really kind of ridiculous. We had very few services before. We barely had a restaurant until 1999. Now we have a nice range. Yes, we now have coffee shops! It's just a sign that more people here work from their homes (eg on their laptops) and can support them during the day. We STILL don't have a decent supermarket! When we get one, is that going to be the death nell for the edgy diversity of Fort Greene Clinton Hill? I think not.

As Myka points out we have some built in safeguards - the public housing, the private higher educational institutions, plus the period (non brownstone) architecture are all ways that distinquish us from Park Slope.

We are happy to have people move here from Park Slope.
It feels like we are getting the cream of the crop to me!
March 14, 2008, 8:23 pm
T.R from Wyandotte,Oklahoma says:
This doesn't sound so bad just neighboring cities copying each other, but me I got real neighbors that actually copy my every owned vehicle and continually try antagonizing me with other nuisance type projects.
I have a pick-up--- What do you know neighbor he drives in with the same model pick-up. I get an old van----what do you know he gets his wife a similar model. Van breaks down--I'm forced to get an older car then a protective car cover to cover it. What do you know he gets rid of his van and gets a similar car and the same color as my -life time car cover-- And the real color of our car--What do you know he has friends of family stay at his house with a similar car and the exact same color parked right beside his other car. We look like awkward twins.
June 24, 2009, 8:05 pm

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