Odds are, you’ve been spending a lot more time in your neighborhood lately.
In this topsy-turvy year, we’ve all been living hyper-locally. Our immediate surroundings and communities have become more important to us than ever. So when Time Out set out to name its 40 coolest neighborhoods in the world for 2020, we broadened our focus to highlight not only up-and-coming areas, but also ones that have fostered community spirit and activism in inspiring ways during this difficult year. For New York, the choice was clear: Bedford-Stuyvesant. (We also surveyed thousands of readers, and they agreed with us.)
Bed-Stuy is a neighborhood cloaked in history, with leafy residential streets that pulse with a sense of community and tradition: lively conversations between neighbors on stoops, blocks that feel like extended families and rows of ancient Victorian brownstones. However, this year, the area became New York’s greatest incubator of the future.
Long a cultural center of the city’s Black population, Bed-Stuy served as a main hub for Black Lives Matter protests. In the face of devastation brought on by Covid-19, it gave birth to mutual aid networks like Bed-Stuy Strong to protect its most vulnerable members.
Meanwhile, local businesses have opened their doors to the streets, melding private and public space and building bonds of togetherness in a new urban social compact. Peaches HotHouse serves hot fried chicken in an outdoor dining area on Tompkins. Harold and Maude Vintage sells vibrant clothing for all genders off a rack on Lafayette. The Billie Holiday Theatre stages brilliant, socially-distanced theatrical productions for masked crowds, keeping art alive during a pandemic.
For a first-hand look, check out this brilliant piece from Ezinne Mgbeahuruike, who wonderfully captures the spirit of this neighborhood. Her on-the-ground report from a block party thrown by the new community support group Building Black Bed-Stuy captures a lot of what makes this part of NYC so special: strong neighborly bonds, serious activism mixed with passionate culture and the brilliance of the area’s local Black community.
For those reasons and more, we’ve officially named Bed-Stuy one of the top five coolest neighborhoods in the world this year. Looking to spend some time exploring the area yourself? Hit up one of the five best outdoor dining spots in the neighborhood and check out our full Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood guide.
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