Bourree Lam is a former staff writer at The Atlantic. She was previously the editor of Freakonomics.com.
From Berlin to Beijing, anywhere with an artisanal vegan soap store is a bit like New York's hippest borough.
I moved to Brooklyn four years ago, so I haven’t quite earned my New Yorker stripes yet. But as my fellow Brooklyn residents have noticed (along with readers across the country), our neck of the woods is compared to different cities domestically and abroad quite often. Especially by the newspaper we proudly call our local paper, The Gray Lady.
Most recently, The New York Times deemed Maplewood, New Jersey, "Brooklyn West," due to the increasing trend of ex-Brooklynites buying houses in the neighborhood.
But what, really, does it mean to be Brooklyn? To answer this question, I've compiled a (by no means comprehensive) selection of places and why they're like Brooklyn, according to The New York Times. (Special thanks to Rose Eveleth for the idea and help.) As the last item on this list shows, Brooklynization can happen anywhere.
There are two kinds of stories, first the ones about other cities being like Brooklyn:
West Coast: "Oakland: Brooklyn By the Bay"
Jonathan Hewitt, a 35-year-old London transplant who works as Standard & Strange’s operations manager, and who was describing that same “Manhattan is to San Francisco as Brooklyn is to Oakland” parallel for a recent visitor, was asked if anyone really believed that Oakland was like Brooklyn.
“Abso-bloody-lutely!” he said. “I hate reverting to a cliché like that, but it’s just so true.”
Hutongs in Beijing: "A Streak of Brooklyn in Beijing"
Old-timers have been joined by a new breed of Chinese and expatriate residents clad in skinny jeans riding fixed-gear bikes, a loyal customer base for restaurants that offer locavore menu options and bars that serve drinks like Pabst Blue Ribbon. In this corner of Beijing, the traditional hutong has been overrun not by a large-scale development but by a very Brooklyn sensibility.
The Hamptons west of the of the Shinnecock Canal: "The Hamptons-in-Waiting"
“West of the canal is like the Brooklyn of the Hamptons,” said Ashley Murphy, the director of public relations for Douglas Elliman Real Estate and a native of the Hamptons. “Once upon a time, people felt like they were settling if they lived or summered there, but now it’s a destination of choice. It cuts your trip from New York City by at least an hour in the summer.”
New Orleans: "Experiencing New Orleans With Fresh Eyes and Ears"
With its elegant but rustic décor, cocktails featuring noirish names (Blood in the Gulfstream, Dead Man’s Wallet), and inventive food, Sylvain wouldn’t be out of place in Brooklyn.
A shop in Stockholm: "Rugged Americans Welcomed"
The shop, in Sodermalm, the city's answer to Brooklyn and the only party of town that could be called gritty, is outfitted almost entirely in unfinished knotty pine boards; they line the walls and form blocky benches and tables for merchandise that includes Mr. Freedom work shirts, Quoddy moccasins, Pendleton blankets and Wesco motorcycle boots.
And the second kind of stories is about Brooklynites invading other places—Brooklynization if you will:
Tivoli, New York: "Brooklyn on the Hudson"
The local crowd in Tivoli has an effortlessly hip and creative edge about it, as if it fled Brooklyn before the rest of us ruined it.
“I don’t think we need to be in Brooklyn,” said Marie Labropoulos, who recently moved to Westchester County and opened a shop, Kalliste, selling artisanal vegan soap in Dobbs Ferry. “We’re bringing Brooklyn with us.”
Welcome to hipsturbia.
The Hudson Valley: "Williamsburg on the Hudson"
Call it the Brooklynization of the Hudson Valley, the steady hipness creep with its locavore cuisine, its Williamsburgian bars, its Gyrotonic exercise, feng shui consultants and deep clay art therapy and, most of all, its recent arrivals from New York City.
Philadelphia: "Philadelphia Story: The Next Borough"
They are the first wave of what could be called Philadelphia's Brooklynization.
Hard numbers assessing exactly how many new residents are from New York are not available, but real estate brokers are noting an influx of prospective buyers and renters from the city; club owners and restaurant employees have spotted newcomers, on both sides of the bar; and "everyone knows someone who's moved here from New York," said Paul Levy, the executive director of the Center City District, a business improvement group, and himself a former Brooklyn resident.
“The music reminds me of Brooklyn!” said Winston Chmielinski, a 25-year-old painter who moved here from New York last year.
Quooklyn: "Deconstructing the Illusion"
Of course, there are now artist studios upstairs, and a free tattoo party may be in swing down the street. But to a first-time visitor, clutching a MetroCard, the scene is desolate. You are 10 stops out of Manhattan on the L line, in the borderland where Bushwick, Brooklyn, blurs into Ridgewood, Queens. (Welcome to Quooklyn.)
Everywhere: "Where Is the New Brooklyn?"
Philadelphia is the new Brooklyn. Oakland, too, is the new Brooklyn, as are Jersey City and Anaheim. And based on dozens of recent newspaper articles (and too many blog posts to count), please consider the following additional candidates: Montreal, Queens, Nashville, Richmond, Anchorage, Buffalo, Baton Rouge, Bangalore, Warsaw and Aurora, Colo. And Doha, Qatar. All potential new Brooklyns. Which is a little weird for a city that has spent most of its existence as an outer-borough punch line.
Beyond beards and Girls (or why NYT trend pieces are problematic), I always wonder how the residents these cities feel about being deemed a Brooklyn-like place. I also wonder what it's going to do to their property prices.
There are two reasons: First, studies show that a prestigious sounding name adds value to a neighborhood. For example, researchers found that buyers were willing to pay a 4.2 percent premium for the term "country." The Brooklyn dream branding has become a certain kind of prestige to young professionals looking for housing. They loosely know what real estate being "Brooklyn" means: cool neighbors, artisanal food shops, Zagat-rated restaurants and bars. It's the stylish land of Blue Bottle coffee and No.6 clogs. The sell is: It has places you want to be and people you want to be around.
This narrative is problematic because it is unfairly discounting vast parts of the borough that's not being gentrified in this specific way, which is why so many Brooklynites hate Brooklyn trend pieces. But it's also just another way of saying it has a specific set of amenities that are appealing to a certain group—Brooklyn has become a euphemism for a kind of urbanism that millennials like.
This post originally appeared on The Atlantic.