If you want to take a tour of Jewish Brooklyn without leaving your car, a Brooklyn-born maven suggests this route to see the sites. Pack lunch and snacks for the family:
You come into Williamsburg over the bridge from Delancey Street, make a right to Lee Ave. Go through the heart of the Hasidic part of town, continue to Nostrand Ave, make another right...go thru the heart of Bed-Stuy to Eastern Parkway, and Crown Heights. Make a left go up to 770. You can go make a left down Albany Ave, to Empire Blvd., and make right to get onto Flatbush Ave., and where that housing project is, is where Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers used to be. OR you can get back on Eastern Parkway in the opposite direction, go down to Flatbush Ave. You will pass the amazing Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and the main, magnificent branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, at the impressive Grand Army Plaza, where there is also a memorial to Robert F. Kennedy. Make a left, get onto Flatbush Ave. and drive straight down through changing neighborhoods. At Church Ave you will see Erasmus Hall High School, where Barbra Streisand was a student. Continue unto Campus Rd. and that will circle you around the Brooklyn College campus. When you get to Bedford Ave., make a left to Ave J. and then make a right on Ave. J, the heart of haredi Flatbush. Stay on J, cross Coney Island Ave. and keep going until you cross Ocean Parkway. Continue into Bay Ridge. Make a right on 60th Street, take it down to 14th Avenue, make another right, drive through the heart of Borough Park, and keep on going until you get back to Ocean Parkway, where you will make a left, get on the Prospect Expressway to the BQE, and take your pick of how to get to the other side of the East River. First, there’s the tunnel, then the Brooklyn Bridge, then the Manhattan Bridge, then the Williamsburg Bridge. If you don’t like any of them, stay on the BQE until you get to the Grand Central, take the Triboro Bridge back to Manhattan or the Bronx, head north to the GWB and come on home.
While you’re in Brooklyn, you may want to check out the civil war between the north and the south: the current, not the historic, one. South Williamsburg is home to a large community of religious Jews. But a few streets away is the area now known as North Williamsburg, New York’s newest uber-trendy neighborhood with million-dollar condos, art galleries, shops, restaurants and night life. It’s an uneasy co-existence, but interesting to see. Artistes and Hasidim learning to live side-by-side.
For more ideas about Brooklyn destinations, go to www.visitbrooklyn.com.