Morgan Ave L Train Stop
The art and music scenes are constantly changing in New York. Back in the ’60s and ’70s, loft spaces were cheap and easily available, so neighborhoods like Soho — and later Chelsea — would become hotbeds for new artists, galleries, restaurants, and music. These days those Manhattan neighborhoods have become hyper-expensive luxury districts. And while they still have galleries and cool shops, it doesn’t have that independent experimental vibe anymore. So if you’re looking to sample a New York neighborhood that still has an edge, you should hop on the subway on 14th Street and ride to the Morgan Ave L train station in Brooklyn.
Williamsburg has been the top destination for hip, creative young people since the ’90s. The scene started along the waterfront in the old warehouse spaces. But the waterfront has since been developed with luxury condos and the art scene has had to move east. So, head east to the Morgan Ave L train station to soak up the newest hip corner of Brooklyn. Unlike Williamsburg’s waterfront, where the gritty industrial vibe has been replaced by chic shops, the scenery here is distinctly industrial. There are few trees on the streets and the Boar’s Head deli meat plant still dominates the area. But the neighborhood is humming with new creativity.
The subway station has two exits, one at Morgan Ave and the other further west at Bogart Street. Exit at Bogart Street and you’ll be at the corner of Bogart and Harrison Place. Directly across the street is The Bogart, a former industrial building that has recently become an artist’s loft and gallery community. The landlord, Ted Hovivian, has owned the building since 1983 when he leased the space out to the garment industry. But since more and more garment trades have left the country, Hovivian has instead rented the space to artists and galleries. These days there are more than a dozen galleries that are open for visits on any given weekend. Plus there is the excellent Friends NYC vintage clothing store located in the basement.
Across the street from The Bogart is the stout old brick warehouse between Moore Street and Siegel Street. Each corner is decked with murals, graffiti, and other street art. The building is dominated by the lovely bird mural marking the entrance to Swallow Café. This is a great spot to stop for a coffee or a pastry. But the most famous spot at the Morgan Ave L train stop is around to corner on Moore Street: Roberta’s Pizza. Roberta’s is inconspicuous. The entrance is a concrete wall with an unmarked door covered in stickers and graffiti tags. But inside is a small room, wooden tables, and some of the best pizza in NYC. It’s especially nice in good weather when the back garden is open. If you head down Gratton Street, you can grab a drink at Pine Box Rock Shop, a high-ceilinged bar inside and old casket factory. Or drop into Better Than Jam’s shop & studio to try out some of their locally made fashion and accessories. No matter what, you’ll be far from the tourist crowds and you’ll have a great look at cutting-edge Brooklyn. Also be sure to check out our in-depth neighborhood guides.
Featured image by Shawn Lynch.