Before fresh-pressed juice spots and artisan everything dominated Brooklyn, the borough’s claim to fame was its attractions, some of the oldest in New York City. Today, you can still find traces of Old New York in Brooklyn—if you know where to look. To help you on your hunt, here are a few of our favorite places to experience the New York of times gone by.
Nothing says “summer in the city” like a visit to Coney Island. As early as 1880, this waterfront area was America’s top pick for old-school entertainment. Today, you can still stroll along the boardwalk, let loose at the amusement park, or enjoy a taste of Old New York at Nathan’s Famous.
Coney Island, 37 Riegelmann Boardwalk, Brooklyn, NY, USA, +1 718 946 1353
Old New York meets the French Revolution at this Brooklyn Heights haunt, where rococo vibes are served on the rocks. Tucked away in the basement of a trendy French restaurant, Le Boudoir is a hot spot of Brooklyn’s underground (literally, in this case) bar scene. Settle into lush velvet seating and sultry leather couches at this Marie Antoinette-inspired speakeasy serving craft cocktails featuring green tea-infused white rum, absinthe, and rich honey.
Le Boudoir, 135 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY, USA, +1 347 227 8337
Travel back in time with a visit to Brooklyn’s oldest neighborhood. Since 1834, Brooklyn Heights has been the borough’s best bet for exploring Old New York architecture. Here, brownstone row houses, pre-Civil War buildings, and a classic waterfront promenade featuring views of the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge make for a beautiful throwback.
Peter Luger Steak House
Old New York elegance is what’s on the menu at Peter Luger Steak House. Since its predecessor, Carl Luger’s Café, Billiards and Bowling Alley, opened its doors in 1887, the restaurant has earned cult-favorite status in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and beyond. More than 4,000 Yelp reviewers rave about the steak house’s signature dry-aged prime beef, special German-fried potatoes, and stately dining room.
Created in 1867, Prospect Park is an enduring example of Old New York charm. From its majestic Grand Army Plaza entrance to its wide walking paths once used by New Yorkers commuting via horseback, the park features many timeless touches throughout its 526 acres.
Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY, USA, +1 718 965 8951
David’s Brisket House
For no frills, just flavor, depend on David’s Brisket House. Dig into old-school eats at this Crown Heights hole in the wall serving Jewish deli classics. Here, sandwiches come piled high with pastrami, corned beef, and brisket and topped with spicy brown mustard and fan-favorite pickles.
David’s Brisket House, 533 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY, USA, +1 718 789 1155
If you visit the Brooklyn Bridge today, you’ll see little more than tourists, sidewalk peddlers, and selfie-stick-wielding walkers. However, if you time your visit early enough, you’ll be rewarded with unobscured views of the bridge’s soaring arches, spider web-like cords and cables, and magnificent vistas, a sight that’s sure to transport you to 1883 when this architectural feat first opened.
One of many bars in Brooklyn’s trendy East Williamsburg area, Featherweight stands out for, well, its skill at blending in. If you aren’t looking for this speakeasy-style watering hole, you may just miss the nondescript door marked by a single white feather. Enter to discover an ideal date night destination, bartenders who specialize in customized cocktails, and a taste (literally) of 1920s New York.
Brooklyn Historical Society
Where better to explore Old New York than a history center dedicated to Brooklyn’s 400-year history? Situated inside an 1881 Brooklyn Heights building, Brooklyn Historical Society hosts exhibitions, events, and education programs designed to preserve and promote the borough’s past. A popular destination for weddings and children’s programming, this historical spot serves the future just as much as the past.
Brooklyn Historical Society, 128 Pierrepont St, Brooklyn, NY, USA, +1 718 222 4111