When people want the scoop on the local Park Slope scene--from arts and entertainment to politics and on-the-spot news--they visit Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn. (The name was inspired by the Thomas Wolfe story, “Only the Dead Know Brooklyn.”)
OTBKB founder, Louise Crawford, born and bred on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, started blogging after a career as a documentary filmmaker (In A Jazz Way) and a film and video producer for corporations, non-profits, museums and theater installations ("Bring in the Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk"). She now runs Brooklyn Social Media, publicity and social media for authors and entrepreneurs.
OTBKB began in 2004. Park Slope happens to be a worldly and interconnected place, so the blog touches on a wide range of topics of interest—and the people who live in Brownstone Brooklyn.
In 2005, OTBKB became one of the first hyper-local blogs in New York City to include posts about civics and urban life, arts, culture, food shopping and parenting. There are also great links to other local blogs and photography presented by No Words Daily Pix.
Smartmom, Crawford's daily OTBKB blasts based on her own life, about a funny and feisty Park Slope mom and her family, led to a regular column in The Brooklyn Paper. Crawford also began the Annual Brooklyn Blogfest and Brooklyn Reading Works, a monthly thematic reading series at the Old Stone House.
Her popularity increased with a notable post about Barbara Walters’ disdain for a breast feeding mom on an airplane, which led to a viral spike in 2005, as did a story about Jamie Livingston, a photographer who took a Polaroid every day from 1978 until the day he died in 1997. Crawford also covered two local city council races in 2009 and conducted intimate breakfast interviews with all eleven candidates.
OTBKB has continued to grow in popularity and gets 20,000 unique visitors per month. We spoke to Crawford about her beloved neighborhood.
1. What would you tell someone moving in to the neighborhood?
To make friends and feel part of life and have access to information, I’d say get involved at the local public schools, a church or synagogue, the Food Co-op, the Park Slope Civic Council or to go to events at The Old Stone House (readings, theater, music, film). They’ll be enmeshed in the neighborhood in no time.
2. Where are the best deals in the neighborhood in terms of real estate and dining/entertainment?
Affordable real estate prices can be found in the South Slope, Windsor Terrace, Sunset Park and Kensington.
Good dining deals include Pork Slope (sit at the bar for a pulled pork sandwich, a wedge and a beer), Oaxaca for great tacos, Naruto Ramen for great Asian noodle soups, Mura for good sushi and Japanese entrees, Purity for diner breakfasts, The Gate for inexpensive drinks. Two Moon Art House and Cafe for cafe and wine.
The Old Stone House has events like Brooklyn Reading Works, a monthly thematic reading series. On November 15 BRW presents Writing War, Fiction, Memoir and Poetry by Vets with Anthony Swofford author of Jarhead, as well as upcoming author/soldiers.
3. What's your favorite location within the neighborhood to live?
Third Street between Sixth and Seventh with its identical limestone apartment buildings (where I happen to live) is awesome. The street is a wide street with matching pre-war buildings.
It's a nice neighborhood, everyone is friendly and it's around corner from a great public school.
4. Do you have a dream building?
There’s a two-story building that used to be a stable on Berkeley Place that I love.
I also love an old garage on 4th Street that was transformed into a wonderful residence by my friend architect Gilly Youner.
5. Any buildings that feel out of place with the feel of the neighborhood?
There are too many to count. The high-rise additions don't match the surrounding neighborhood.
6. Any real-estate related issue brewing or currently happening in your neighborhood?
The age-old real estate mystery is why has the brownstone on Third Street just west of Seventh Avenue been unoccupied for at least 21 years (as long as I’ve been in the neighborhood).
Also, why are there so few storefronts on the new Fourth Avenue? The NEW Fourth Ave consists of dozens of new high-rise buildings on a street formerly a 4-lane service street.
7. How has the neighborhood changed in the past five years? How do you think it'll change in the next five?
The biggest changes include the opening of the Barclay’s Center (which is bringing exactly what the neighborhood expected: crowds and noise but also sports and entertainment) all the new high-rise apartment buildings on Fourth Avenue, the beautiful restoration of JJ Byrne/Washington Park, the bike lane on Prospect Park West, the organic development of Third Avenue.
8. What do you think your "sister" neighborhood might be?
The Upper West Side circa 1970s is probably our sister neighborhood. Parts of the far West Village.
9. Which neighborhood feels like the opposite of your neighborhood?
Midtown Manhattan is certainly the opposite (except it is just as well served by subways).
10. Would you stay in this neighborhood forever if you could?
Yes. I love the scale, the architecture, the sense of community, Fifth Avenue, many of the shops and restaurants, the nearby cultural institutions and the park. I think Park Slope would be a wonderful place to live forever.
11. What is one of the biggest misconceptions about the neighborhood?
The idea that Park Slopers lack style is a misconception. Sure, people are comfortable enough around here not to dress up to go out on Seventh Avenue, but there are stylish people here and Bird (maybe one of the best fashion shops in the City) started in Park Slope. And was recently voted Best Woman’s Boutique in New York City by New York Magazine and Top Visionary Boutique in the U.S. by Lucky.
I think the crunchy granola cliché about Park Slope is only half right. It is a very progressive neighborhood but not everyone is vegan or dedicated to socialist style shopping.
The neighborhood is a lot more affluent than it used to be, which means there are lots of different viewpoints about things here.