76-Second Travel Show: 'Bed-Stuy, do!'
It's Black History Month in the USA and Canada, and to celebrate we at the SSSTS visited Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant, one of the city's most famous African-American neighborhoods. It's an area still trying to shed its dated 'Bed-Stuy, Do or Die' image -- as shown in Chris Rock's 'Everybody Hates Chris' TV show set in the early 1980s -- but visitors who do come these days find something entirely different: a stunning historic district of late 19th-century buildings (including Historic Stuyvesant Heights -- centered on MacDonough Street between Tompkins and Stuyvesant Avenues); a welcoming scene of food, coffee and books on Lewis Ave; and a tight sense of community throughout.
Visitors considering a day should consider these options:
To Do. Weeksville. A stunning historic sight, 'secret New York' per its director Pamela Green, is a short walk south into Crown Heights (via Utica Ave to Bergen St). Settled in 1838, this historic African American neighborhood thrived for a century, before getting lost in the new grid of streets by the mid 20th century. It was finally 'found' in 1968 by historians surveying the neighborhood by plane. Visitors can see three original buildings and learn about free African American life in the mid 19th century, and see a copy of Weeksville's newspaper from 1866 (great front page: definition of God and the alphabet). Open Tue-Fri; check for July's free Saturday concert series.
Other attractions include the Magnolia Tree (at 679 Lafayette Ave, between Marcy & Tompkins Aves) and the Brooklyn Children's Museum in Crown Heights.
Food. Peaches is Bed-Stuy's most popular eating place, great for shrimp and grits, or po' boys, while the terrace and cozy interiors of Bread Stuy, next door, is the local go-to for coffee, snacks and long chats.
Sleep. Yes, Bed-Stuy is a rising area to base a New York trip in. Akwaaba Mansion is one of the city's greatest B&Bs, lavishly set in an 1860s mansion, while there are excellent-value short-term rentals (from $175/night) in a private, fully stocked brownstone apartment owned by local artist TRUE in Stuyvesant Heights.
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