Until recently, Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights neighborhood was a rather sleepy area of stately co-ops and quiet brownstone blocks. Since the 2012 opening of the Barclay’s Center, an indoor sports and concert arena, the neighborhood has been rapidly evolving. As in nearby Park Slope, proximity to Prospect Park — a 585-acre oasis designed by Central Park landscape architects, Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux — makes the area attractive for families. Now, younger Brooklynites are discovering its charms. And restaurants, cafés and boutiques are turning central thoroughfares, like Vanderbilt Avenue, into hip destinations.
Monuments and museums are on proud display on Eastern Parkway, the southern border of Prospect Heights. At Grand Army Plaza, you’ll find the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch (erected in 1892 to commemorate the Civil War), Prospect Park’s elegant main entrance and, on Saturdays, a farmers’ market. Walk east and you’ll come to the massive central Brooklyn Public Library and the Beaux Arts Brooklyn Museum, which holds the second largest collection of art in New York. Pre-war apartment buildings, with regal names and gorgeous park views, stand along the north side of Eastern Parkway.
Even though Prospect Heights is bound by busy avenues, the neighborhood’s central blocks are surprisingly quiet. Leafy Sterling Place is particularly idyllic, with a stretch of multicolor stone row houses and the grand Public School 9 Annex (now an apartment building). Vanderbilt Avenue, a central thoroughfare, and Washington Avenue, the neighborhood’s eastern border, have been revitalized with new restaurants and bars. Young professionals and parents slurp ramen noodles at Chuko, browse the selection at Unnameable Books and grab coffee at cafés like Sit & Wonder. At night, revelers seek out craft cocktails at the Way Station and live blues music at the Branded Saloon.
Near Atlantic Avenue, Prospect Heights’s northern border, the neighborhood changes dramatically. Its northwestern corner is marked by ongoing construction for the Atlantic Yards project — a 22-acre mixed-use development that has stirred up controversy among residents, developers and city officials. The Barclay’s Center, which some say looks like a rusty spaceship, draws crowds for Brooklyn Nets basketball games and big-ticket concerts. This is also where you’ll find the Atlantic Avenue Terminal, Brooklyn’s busiest transportation hub. (It’s a stop on the 2, 3, 4, 5, B, D, N and R subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road.)
When taking a cab to Prospect Heights, Grand Army Plaza is a great drop-off point for exploring the neighborhood. The best place to catch a cab is along Eastern Parkway or Flatbush Avenue. Visitors unfamiliar with the neighborhood should exercise caution at night, especially on its eastern fringes.