Clinton Hill, BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
New Yorkers seeking relief from the city’s chaos will find a fitting refuge in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood. The Great American poet Walt Whitman once described the area as a haven for those “determined to escape from the closeness of city life.” As a longtime resident, Whitman intimately understood the power of its serenity. Visitors and homeowners today are drawn to that same sense of cool.
There is something wild and exciting just beneath the surface of this north-central Brooklyn neighborhood. All the calm in the world cannot hide the quiet vibrancy or the hum of excitement that circles the area like an aura. Though “The Hill,” as it is often called, reaches a maximum elevation of only 95 feet, there was a time when people traveled far and wide to enjoy its relative elevation, believing that the lower-lying neighborhoods harbored more germs. They saw something downright “healthy” about Clinton Hill.
Upon arriving in the Clinton Hill neighborhood, you cannot help but be infused by its culture. If you listen carefully, you might hear the hum of creativity that led Whitman to write “Leaves of Grass” while living on Ryerson Street or rapper Biggie Smalls to write his first riffs. You might gain new insight into Patti Smith’s musical inspiration or her roommate, Robert Mapplethorpe’s assent to greatness as one of the most iconic photographers of all time. In fact, it was at the Pratt Institute, located along those same stony streets, that Mapplethorpe once studied.
As early as the mid-19th century, the movers and shakers of Brooklyn built gilded mansions to house their fabulous families while they commuted into Manhattan by stagecoach. By the time the new century rolled around, the streets of Clinton Hill were lined with breathtaking mansions, each with its own story. In fact––mansion or tiny condo––each property within this storied neighborhood has a history of its own, making it magical in a world of ordinary. On any given day, Clinton Hill residents can browse a fine art gallery like Kinz + Tillou or pick through the astounding collection of antique furniture, doors, and fireplaces at Eddie Hibbert’s architectural salvage. They can spend an afternoon relaxing at the Pratt Institute Sculpture Park or stroll along Clinton Avenue, taking in the wonder of Gilded Age mansions. First-rate restaurants with quaint handwritten chalkboards, announcing the daily special and red-hot bars, make it easy to entertain, meet new people, or simply unwind.
Those early settlers might have set the tone for Clinton Hill, but plenty of thought goes into keeping it a beautiful, rarefied historical destination.
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