How to survive the L Train shutdown

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 03 October 2017 09:00
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For Williamsburg residents (both present and prospective), it’s time to reconsider. In an effort to repair residual damage from Hurricane Sandy and future-proof infrastructure in the process, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is planning a 15 month shutdown of the L subway line. Given the ongoing (and thus far, unsuccessful) search for transit alternatives, perhaps it’s time to pack up and move elsewhere.


Thankfully, New York City is more a patchwork of diverse neighborhoods (each with their own, unique character) rather than a single, monolithic location. That’s great news for residents: given the sheer size of the metropolis, it’s easy to find a neighborhood that will match your personality. Besides, as others have pointed out, the rising rents and cost of living in Williamsburg has already displaced plenty of residents, from families who grew up in the neighborhood to the artists and creatives who helped cement the neighborhood’s reputation as a funky, trendy enclave.


Read on to find your next Williamsburg.



Recently, New Yorkers seeking a reprieve from the rapidly ballooning rents in Brooklyn have moved further east, to Queens. But when looking for lodging in this borough, avoid rapidly gentrifying Astoria, home to an influx of hip coffee shops and increasing rents, and instead consider Ridgewood.


The area isn’t just affordable (at least in comparison to Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Crown Heights), but it’s also comfortable and welcoming, with wide streets, low-rise buildings, and a collection of friendly, locally-owned cafes and stores. In terms of demographics, the area has long been home to a strong, middle-class community, a diverse melange of Eastern European, Middle Eastern, and Hispanic families, all of whom have brought exciting tastes and products from their respective homelands. Given its location thirty minutes from downtown Manhattan, Ridgewood is best for those who like friendly neighbors and a quiet, almost suburban feel.


Most Ridgewood residences are a mix of two- and three-family homes and apartments. As of last year, prices were extremely reasonable, averaging approximately $2,300 for a three-bedroom apartment, while houses started at around $6-700,000.



Once one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city, Inwood has undergone a stunning transformation. Today, violent crime in the area has declined by over 90%, marking Inwood as one of the safest areas in Manhattan.


With the Hudson River to the west and the Harlem River to the east, Inwood has become of the most sought-after neighborhoods in the city. Apartment hunters have taken notice of Inwood’s larger living spaces (and lower rents), not to mention its sprawling parks, wide-open greenery, and pedestrian/bike trails. Residents can escape the noise of lower Manhattan at Fort Tryon Park, arguably Inwood’s crown jewel, with its panoramic views of the Hudson, eight miles of trails, and Manhattan's largest dog run. Alternatively, head to Inwood Hill Park, which sits on the northernmost tip of Manhattan, and is home to hiking trails that wind through forests that are hundreds of years old.


Hamilton Heights

Named after founding father Alexander Hamilton, Hamilton Heights was once rolling farmland. Today, the area has been revitalized by a number of projects and initiatives, from Columbia University’s ongoing expansion to a rush of new construction.


Bordered by the Hudson River on one side and St. Nicholas Avenue on the other, Hamilton Heights encompasses the area from West 135th Street to West 155th Street. Its hilly topography is packed with historic, regal brownstones and townhouses, plenty of scenic river views, and wide, quiet streets. For the most part, Hamilton Heights is still cheaper than the rest of Harlem (where rents have risen more quickly), and remains a vibrant, thriving neighborhood with a strong community. In terms of transit, the area is fairly convenient; it’s served by the express A and D subways full-time (and the B and C trains during the week only).


One of the prime beneficiaries of the newly-constructed 2nd Avenue Subway, Yorkville’s boundaries run from the East River to Third Avenue, spanning East 79th-96th Streets. With its spacious, tree-lined streets, historic architecture, and thriving ethnic communities, Yorkville is perhaps Manhattan’s overlooked gem.


One issue was transit: until the opening of the Q line and the 2nd Avenue Subway, Yorkville was served only by a smattering of buses. Though the green line (4, 5, and 6) trains did skirt the neighborhood’s western boundaries, it was often a 10-15 minute walk for many residents. Moreover, the advantage of Yorkville lies in its diversity and price: for such a compact enclave, Yorkville possesses a surprisingly large range of housing options, from gleaming, cutting-edge condos to renovated, turn-of-the-century townhouses. The increase in rental options has been accompanied by an improved dining and entertainment scene: modern cafes and bars sit alongside preserved landmarks and neighborhood schools.


In the end, New York is a city of many faces--and as such, it should be a simple matter to find a neighborhood to fall in love with. It’s simply a matter of spending the effort and time to find the right community.

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Susan Molloy

Susan Molloy is a producer, actress, and real estate agent at Bohemia Realty.

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