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The Best and Worst Things About Every NYC Borough

New York City is full of stark dualities. Bracingly cold winters that bite at your cheeks turn into beautifully hot Eastern seaboard summers. New restaurants close within months, right next to spots with three-hour waits for a table. People rush into relationships as fast as they run away from them.

We love NYC, but we hate it, too. In honor of a city with no grey areas, here are the best and worst things about each of the five boroughs.

By / March 22, 2017

 

Manhattan

Best thing: It’s the center of the world. It’s easy to forget about how incredibly cool Manhattan is, but literally everything happens here. Every band you ever loved has played in Manhattan, everyone who visits America wants to see Manhattan, nearly every industry has its major summit or tradeshow or convention in Manhattan. If you live here, you might be used to it, but it’s all incredibly unusual and spectacular.

Think about it this way: the streets are so famous that people come from the other side of the globe to take photos of them. Being in Manhattan is like being in a real-life film set, full of diverse characters, fabulous restaurants, and incredible events you’ll never see anywhere else.

Worst thing: It knows it’s the center of the world. Manhattan believes that nothing else, nowhere else, and no one else is better than Manhattan. It’s almost entirely unaffordable for middle-class families, and dreamers rack up credit card bills just so they can have that “New York, NY” return address label, but it’s the most important place in the world, so who cares? Not Manhattan.

A multitude of sins can be forgiven if they happen in Manhattan, because people convince themselves they’re magical if they’ve happened there. Manhattan knows it’s the center of the universe, so it doesn’t care about you at all. Manhattan will chew you up and spit you out, and you’ll ask for more.

Brooklyn

Best thing: There’s a “thing” for everyone. Do you dream of selling jars of your homemade pickled fruit salad? Or opening a store that just sells feathered gloves? Or starting a meetup group for dogs that look like vegetables? Come to Brooklyn, where people seem to be starving for weird things to spend money on!

Really though, no matter who you are or what you’re into, you can probably find your people in Brooklyn. From high-rise soirees to cottage garden parties, from rooftop celebrations to secret warehouse concerts, your niche promises to be here. They said “Brooklyn is the new Manhattan,” and they were right.

Worst thing: It’s desperately unaffordable. I mean, so is a lot of NYC, but the problem with Brooklyn is that it has this reputation for being the “cheaper cool borough” and it’s just… not that much cheaper.

Sure, if you live in Brooklyn on a tight budget, you’re more likely to have a backyard, or a window in your bedroom, or a bathroom you don’t share with the rest of your building. However, unless you go to the outer edges of the borough, it really isn’t that much cheaper than living in Manhattan. Brooklyn isn’t just “the new Manhattan”it is Manhattan.

Queens

Best thing: It’s the most diverse place in the world. Like, literally. Nearly half of the population of Queens is made up of immigrants. That means nearly every type of person living every type of lifestyle lives within its 100 square miles. Queens is like the poster child for human beings living in harmony. It’s beautiful.

And perhaps most importantly, it means Queens is full of prime spots for every single type of international cuisine you could imagine. From Cantonese to Nepalese, Liberian to Dominican, it’s all here and it’s all super delicious.

Worst thing: It takes forever to get around. Queens is by far the largest borough by square miles, so even with all those express trains, traversing that mass of land takes forever. It’s typically a straight shot into Manhattan from wherever you are, but traveling between neighborhoods is a feat in patience and requires a prayer that the trains are, in fact, running express this weekend.

And there’s just something about visiting Queenseven the close-to-Manhattan neighborhoods like Astoria and Long Island Citythat makes people sigh in exasperation, as if it’s another planet entirely. Have an event in Woodside? Good luck trying to get your friends in Brooklyn to even consider showing up.

Bronx

Best thing: It’s beautiful and full of culture. Seriously. Amazing parks, sunny beaches, awesome cultural institutions where you can avoid the crowds of the lower boroughs… it’s probably the most underrated borough, and the perfect place to explore without crazy lines and overcrowded streets.

Most people know about the huge New York Botanical Garden and Zoo, but the Bronx is home to so much rich culture. Check out City Island, a tiny version of Cape Cod that’s right off the coast and full of Victorian homes and fresh seafood, or Wave Hill, a huge garden with summer concerts and a beautiful view of the Hudson.

Worst thing: It’s not very accessible. The Cross-Bronx Expressway was built in the ‘50s and really screwed over the Bronx. Instead of lending accessibility, it displaced thousands, using the land to service people in the suburbs and slicing up a once close-knit community.

The borough hasn’t entirely recovered from the development. There are subway lines, but they’re more efficient for shoveling people back and forth to Manhattan than for actually traversing the borough itself. A car is practically required for most of the Bronx.

Staten Island

Best thing: It’s like living in the suburbs, but it’s still New York City. Do you dream of living within an hour of Manhattan, but hate taking the subway and living in a tiny expensive apartment? Do you want to ride a free boat to work every day? Do you want to own a house in New York City? Then Staten Island is the place for you!

Bigger houses, nice beaches, great views, places to park… New York is like nowhere else in the country, but Staten Island is like nowhere else in New York, and that’s what makes it special.

Worst thing: It voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. Enough said.

By

Quinne Myers is a writer, illustrator, apparel designer, and lingerie industry pundit living in Brooklyn. Loves sweaty concert dancing, eating dessert, feeling feelings, and petting every dog.

More articles by Quinne Myers

Comments

30 Comments

  1. Born and bred in Brooklyn and YES the new manhattan is spot on. Went to HS on Franklin ave and graduated in 98, the franklin ave then and now…no words. GREAT line about Staten Island

  2. Jamie Casalino

    I was kind of enjoying this article UNTIL you got to Staten Island. You neglected to mention the AMAZING food here, historic culture and how it is a wonderful place to raise a family. What you instead focused on is that is a red borough. Really? I guess you’re a liberal hipster who hates kids and really could care less about any community that caters to families.
    Maybe you should go back to Missouri or wherever the hell you’re from and stop writing articles about cities you lived in for 6 months on your parents dollar. Buh bye

  3. Hey Jamie Casalino- I’ve been to Staten Island several times. Yes, there’s great food… if you like Italian. Historic culture? You must be talking about how it used to be a landfill. And did the author REALLY focus on it being a red borough? No. As a matter of fact, she was pretty kind in sparing the 100+ negatives about living in Staten Island. Since you’re obviously a Staten Islander, be happy that you’re even considered part of NYC for some reason, that anybody anywhere has ever said anything nice about it, and move on.

  4. Richard Salcer

    Staten Island, like Rodney Dangerfield, don’t get no respect. Yes, there are great parks and historical places to visit and getting there by ferry is the best boat ride in the city. Unfortunately, as some of its residents have demonstrated here, the populace has a thin skin and a penchant for insult. New York is by far a liberal town and those who do not appreciate this reality should refrain from hurling ignorance-based hate speech toward others who did not have the good fortune to have been born here. The writer of the article made no reference to her status as a parent or her marital status, so making the false assumptions written here is baseless. By her response, the Staten Islander angrily defends her voting for a con man without mentioning his name. – for the record, I was born here, in another borough that don’t get no respect: da Bronx.

  5. MARA OHANYAN

    Couldn’t stay away from politics, ha? Staten Island voted for Trump–good for them! I did, too!!! So what? You are supposed to talk about travel-related things!!!

  6. As a Staten Islander, I really don’t know what to say about this article. For 1 thing, concentrating the cons of this borough on the sole fact that the borough is highly republican is unfair, since there are communities here with large amounts of liberals. North of New Dorp lane, every neighborhood has its own feel and culture (every neighborhood south of New Dorp lane is pretty much exactly the same).

    Also, you did not list the other cons of the island. Such as the difficulty of traveling around without a car, the lack of diversity (every other person here is italian). and. most of all, the fact that Staten Island is perhaps home to new york’s meanest and most ignorant people. I have been to notoriously “bad” neighborhoods around the city where the people were much more well meaning and mentally at ease than the people here in some of the “best” neighborhoods. Over here in the south shore, we have the types of people who think they are high society because they rent a townhouse and lease an entry level luxury vehicle, yet think a city sanitation job is the most prestigious job anyone can have. sanitation workers and drug dealers are held in higher regard than doctors and lawyers. Everyone in the neighborhood hates you if you don’t have “connections” to the mafia and you make money the completely legal and legitimate way like the rest of the world. Plus they dislike you if you are not italian, and absolutely despise jews. Every young white person here has went to a private catholic high school, yet is the real life embodiment of the main character in malibu’s most wanted who would probably shit themselves if they ever walked through an actual ghetto. staten island can be spacious, clean, and perhaps affluent in certain areas (todt hill, grymes hill, not counting any mafioso neighborhoods), but it is an awful place to raise your children, and I do not recommend anyone moving here, at least to the south shore.

  7. Robert Ferraioli

    I don’t live in Staten Island but Im sure you don’t so don’t judge an entire borough for voting for someone you don’t like when you never even met anyone from there.

  8. Staten Island voted for Trump is the worst thing? How shallow; if you looked the north shore voted overwhelmingly for Hillary and the South Shore for Trump. Hell, boro park and all along Ocean parkway voted for Trump what does that make them? This is a city of neighborhoods not boroughs trying to pigeon hole an entire borough proves you are probably a transplant here…..

  9. Jesus so many people complaining about her con of Staten Idkand and saying how she only focused on that. Soooo you wanted her to leave more cons??? The fact you’re so overwhelmingly butthurt over that one thing proves more than enough that Staten Island doesn’t deserve a name of a NY burrough. So go cry elsewhere rather than some small article. You people really have your priorities misplaced.

  10. So I guess the worst thing about the Jewish community I. Brooklyn is that they voted for Trump…..you do realize the north shore voted overwhelmingly for Hillary and the south shore for trump. Do a little research before posting such a silly comment; oh, the worst thing is the public transportation.

  11. Really….this was a helpful and enjoyable read. But then the author couldn’t resist bringing politics into the mix. I was actually most interested in finding out info about Staten Island. If I was at all interested in politics for this, I would have sought info from a relevant political site. Really amateur move on the part of the “author.” I get it, Ms. Myers, that you don’t like President Trump. I’m a conservative and not a big fan of his either, but please….be relevant to what you are trying to write. Instead, this article had a completely needless “SQUIRREL!” moment. You lost focus and ran out of useful stuff to say.

  12. I do not live in NYC and never have. I’m only a kid in high school and I have an uncle that lives in Midtown Manhattan that I visit frequently, that’s it. That being said, I have a pretty neutral opinion. Now, I liked this article up until the last part with the cons of Staten Island. I’ve been to Staten Island but once to visit some friends who lived there , and they said commuting was a pain and they felt isolated, and I see that. I think those should have been highlighted in the cons section. (Also, the author’s description? ‘Feeling feelings’? That’s kind of weird)

  13. As a midwestern I really enjoyed this article and was curious to read the comments of residents. Sadly the article writer took focus off their pleasent article by a political stab at the very end, then the political sh*t show began and every comment showed it. Sad end to an enjoyable article.

  14. Have fam from 3 of the the 5 boros so I’m eduacted on how Staten Island differs from each. Staten Island on the north-shore is really all I’m familiar with and It has its areas just like any nyc boro. Park hill, Stapleton, mariners harbor all them areas are real. The south shore is basically white people who all think the same way about how the world goes round. I wouldn’t say Staten Island is completely red I just think the south shore is. Every other boro I’ve been to time and time again due to family and life. Either way the statement is partially true and coming from a minority the statement is true but can’t be generalized as a whole because Staten Island above the south shore has real people in some real rough areas. Yes don’t raise a kid in the south shore. Your better off living in the projects so your kid has an idea of the real world and a different perception on life.

  15. Lol I like Staten Island now only because it overwhelmingly voted for trump! They said that’s the worst thing about it but I officially love it now because they like trump. Make America great again!

  16. I’m a Staten islander, I find it funny that all the comments on here are about the ending. I have lived in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn for 3 years till I was infested with mice and roaches. I’ve also been to every borough. Staten Island does have diversity, not just Italians; it is the cleanest and safest borough. I used to have to avoid dog droppings and supermarket bags every step in Brooklyn. One of he biggest downsizes to Staten Island it does not have a lot of rentals. A lot of waterfront condos and rentals that are popping up are becoming just as expensive as Manhattan or BK. People in other boroughs growl about the travel time on the ferry, it’s a lot less time than getting to some areas of the Bronx and Queens even by car if not train every area of NYC has complaints about the other, which is why bonding with others outside of your borough is stressful.

  17. SI-lander

    Just moved to Staten Island from Florida. I’m still trying to decide if we went from bad to worse. We have been to Brooklyn and frequent Manhattan. My opinion is that the vibe on SI is somewhat judgmental. We have visited establishments where the whole room turned to stare at us, and upon farther observation we realized we were the only non-whites. There are absolutely over-tanned gaudy women in suede jump suits shopping and think everyone should move out of their way when they are coming through – so that stereotype in my experience is dead on. We live in Grant City, which I feel is decent and affordable compared to other parts of SI. Fortunately, we have a car, but it still sucks to drive around here. When we are ready, we will move closer to Manhattan, if not Manhattan itself. Sorry but the vibe on SI really is kinda racist. You just get a feeling. The overwhelming Trump support almost kept us from moving here but life events required us to do so. Also, when I say it feels racist, I think that vibe emanates from all races here, not just white people. Just my opinion though. I’m also from Florida so that is a whole joke in itself. I know lol.

  18. Madelyn

    I read and thoroughly enjoyed your insights until you finished with your ignorant comment about the POTUS. Now I doubt your intellect and ability to communicate with any worthwhile quality or virtue about anything . You my hapless human are want-to-be loser. Your political opinion means nothing to the people reading your blog other than seeing your insult to our( yours and mine) President of The United States. Shame on you!!!!. Your ignorance is showing!

  19. Your comment about the Bronx is very inaccurate. You do not need a car to commute in the Bronx. A lot of people use public transportation. It looks like you dont have enough knowledge of the subject to talk about it.

  20. You guys are ridiculous. I personally am from New Jersey and moved here 9 years ago. I currently live in Staten Island but prefer the Bronx. The views are beautiful. Staten Island is OK. I sometimes wonder what is the point of having it be an actual borough. It really belongs to New Jersey. I just cannot see it as a legit entity. I don’t notice Italians. I notice a huge difference between the north and south shore. Forget the fact that the ferry is free. I’m thinking that it is a huge pain to commute back and forth to the city. Anywhere there is a bridge causes delays in daily commute. POTUS has a decline in ratings. That will never change. The author said that this particular part of Staten Island had a significant favor for the president. She did not offer optical opinion. It’s a fun, cute article. I thought she was spot on.

  21. Kimbo

    Grow. The. Freak. Up. Not everything is about your wah-wah loss in the election. Look around you. more money, more jobs, less international risk. SORRY LOSER #MAGA

  22. Ryanne

    Of everything you could have said, you had to bring Trump into the mix. Way to base your opinion of an entire community based on hatred of conservatives, while emphasizing how wonderful diversity is. Sorry Staten Island doesn’t contain as many refugees or boring “nonconformist” hipsters or trustifarians or fake bohemians as you would like. Go blog about being a victim of the millennial epidemic. You’re the kind of person who is obsessed with emulating some bohemian, free spirited liberal, just because it’s the image you want. Grow up and learn to think for yourself.

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