Field Trip: Bed-Stuy

When I moved to New York City in 1992, all I knew about Bed-Stuy was that it stands for Bedford-Stuyvesant and Do the Right Thing was set there. Also, it was said to be dangerous enough that it never occurred to me to go. Plus, to be totally honest, I rarely ventured to Brooklyn before 2000.

When my friend Laura moved to Bed-Stuy, I asked for guidelines on where to go. (I’ve learned a thing or two since Andrea and I went to Bushwick and missed it.) The red lines are the neighborhood boundaries, more or less, and Laura suggested I stay in the southern half—not sure why, actually. The commercial stuff tends to be on the avenues, which I circled in a pique of anticipation.

Bed-Stuy mapAndrea was up for the adventure, so we set off on the A train to Nostrand. Now, I am fully aware how it sounds when a middle-aged (ugh), white blogger from Tribeca goes to an outer-borough neighborhood and returns surprised that it’s not a war zone, but this was Bed-Stuy! I didn’t think it’d be dangerous, exactly, but I didn’t think it’d be gorgeous. Small wonder the area—which is huge, by the way—is gentrifying so quickly. The buildings are just lovely, and the neighborhood is far from run down. It helped that one of the first streets we walked down, Hancock, was also one of the prettiest. But just look at these buildings! (Only some are on Hancock.)

Bed-Stuy brownstone Bed-Stuy brownstone2 Bed-Stuy brownstonesBed-Stuy Hancock St tree Bed-Stuy Hancock trees sidewalkBed-Stuy street Bed-Stuy houseI think I’d like this one….

Bed-Stuy Hancock St houseSome of the brownstones are in the process of being renovated, but not as many as I expected. And there are definitely some fixer-uppers here and there.

Bed-Stuy fixer-upperThis being modern-day New York, terrible new construction can be seen replacing marvelous old construction.

Bed-Stuy depressing on Tompkins AveBoo. Anyway, as Andrea and I wandered, we noticed two things. First, storefront churches are everywhere. I can’t even describe how prevalent they are.

Bed-Stuy The Glorious ChurchSecond, while we did come upon a handful of stylish new businesses, they’re few and far between—I thought they’d be in clumps, but that’s rarely (if never) the case. We had just had an unmemorable coffee somewhere when we found Lackawanna Coffee, which shares space with a very chic women’s boutique, Sincerely, Tommy.

Bed-Stuy Lackawanna CoffeeAnd we had lunch at Peaches, a southern restaurant, because it has pretty outdoor seating. But I wish we had hauled back to Eugene & Co., whose lunch menu includes a fried green tomato po’ boy with dijon aioli….

Bed-Stuy Peaches Bed-Stuy Eugene and CoAnd I’m somewhat obsessed with trying L’Antagoniste, which serves old-school French, but I’m not sure who I can drag there.

Bed-Stuy LAntagoniste Bed-Stuy LAntangoniste menuSince there wasn’t a lot else in the way to buy or eat, we kept walking. We came across a castle….

Bed-Stuy castleA sign from the era when doctors didn’t specialize….

Bed-Stuy doctors office signA training center for volunteer EMTs with a rather disturbing dummy…. Did its wrists have to be taped?

Bed-Stuy VolliesBed-Stuy Vollies mannequinAnd a lot of inventive gardening (not pictured: planter baskets danging from street signs).

Bed-Stuy greenest block tree bed Bed-Stuy tire planterThen it turned out that Laura and (my husband) Adam and I were having lunch in Bed-Stuy a few days later. I shifted from novice to guide, taking Adam along some of the same streets. He wasn’t quite as thrilled as I was, but I had probably built Bed-Stuy up too much and he was already aware that it’s part of Brownstone Brooklyn. Still, there were those moments where you turn a corner and—hello!

Bed-Stuy churchBed-Stuy Nostrand Ave Bed-Stuy Garden of HopeWe had lunch with Laura at Saraghina, a pizzeria-plus. It reminded me of Roberta’s, but less scruffy. The pizza was good, the server was attractive, the back garden was delightful—what more could you want? A chocolate chip cookie from the Saraghina Bakery next door, obviously.

Bed-Stuy SaraghinaBed-Stuy Saraghina pizzaBed-Stuy Saraghina BakeryI’ll be back, Bed-Stuy! That is, if I survive Crown Heights….

Previous Field Trip posts:
The New Whitney Museum
The Rockaways
S-Cruise by Smartboat
Wave Hill
Governors Island
F.D.R. Four Freedoms Park
Litchfield County, Conn.
One Wall Street
Behind the Scenes at Grand Central Terminal
The Howard/Crosby Microneighborhood
Federal Reserve Bank of New York
East River Ferry
Museum of American Finance



  1. More about the Hancock St house you liked (incl. slideshow) here:

  2. Well….that was the most snobby review ever….