By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
When tourists visit New York City, they tend to visit certain well-known spots: the Empire State Building, the Museum of Natural History, Yankee Stadium, the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center site, Grand Central, Madison Square Garden.
This also goes for visitors to Brooklyn – they usually visit Coney Island, Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Barclays Center, BAM, the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and the New York Aquarium.
NYC & Company, the city’s official marketing and tourism organization, wants to change that. They plan to highlight a series of local neighborhoods where tourists can shop at mom-and-pop stores, meet regular New Yorkers and see lesser-known attractions.
The first neighborhood that NYC & Company has chosen to highlight is Park Slope – especially the Fifth Avenue area, which Mark Caserta, executive director of the Park Slope Business Improvement District, calls “New York’s other Fifth Avenue.”
“The reason I like this campaign,” Caserta said, “is that it’s drawing attention to Park Slope. Fifth Avenue is a space in New York City that’s unique and has unique stores and bars and restaurants. The other Fifth Avenue has the big corporate stores. Here, we have 500 stores, bars and restaurants.”
Among the Park Slope attractions listed by NYC & Company are the Brooklyn Arts Exchange, the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, Prospect Park itself (at any rate, one side of it), the historic Old Stone House, Gorilla Coffee, Freddy’s Bar (which moved to the area after being evicted from the “footprint” of Barclays Center), the independently owned Community Bookstore, the Barbes French restaurant and the newly opened Park Slope branch of the Grand Central Oyster Bar.
In addition, said Caserta, “There a lot of good, cheap hotels in the area. I see people staying at those hotels and then coming to Fifth Avenue.” Hotels nearby include Hotel Le Bleu, a contemporary 48-room boutique hotel, and Holiday Inn Express Brooklyn.
The aforementioned Old Stone House, inside Washington Park, is a reconstruction of a Dutch farmhouse that was built in 1699. It served both as a Revolutionary War headquarters for the American forces and as a clubhouse for the Brooklyn Dodgers when they played in a nearby stadium, also known as Washington Park, during the 19th century.
“We’re a multifaceted organization,” said Kim Maier, executive director of the Old Stone House. “We have a continuum in Brooklyn history as a Revolutionary War site and as a baseball site. People are coming to Fifth Avenue and discovering us – there are a lot of entrees to the story of the Old Stone House and its role in New York City.”
She adds that “Fifth Avenue has a particularly independent flavor of small-town Brooklyn, it has a particular mix.”
NYC & Company’s sponsorship of the area includes material on its website, and advertisements across the city that will promote the campaign within featured neighborhoods. Additionally, NYC & Company will periodically produce taxi videos spotlighting some of the selected neighborhoods.