BY JENNIFER JOHNSEN
In October of 2011, my family and I set out for what was supposed to be a day trip to Williamsburg. We had recently relocated from Seattle to New York City and a friend told us that we should explore the land of hipsters and Smorgasburg. We were game for trying something new, but did not expect to be so pleasantly surprised by what we discovered.
At Smorgasburg, there was so much to eat that we had to limit ourselves to one item in order to visit almost every food stand. We walked it off with a few hours of wandering around town visiting one music store after another – my 17-year-old son is a talented guitar player – and playing in McCarren Park. Soon, we found ourselves hungry again and stopped into Rosarito’s Fish Shack on Wythe Avenue and North 7th Street for dinner. We ended up sitting at the bar, where we chatted with our server/bartender, Pablo, all about Williamsburg.
Pablo and my two kids took an interest in one another almost immediately. I have two teenagers and while my son is a musician, my 15-year-old daughter is an incredible artist. My son and Pablo got into a conversation about the music scene in Williamsburg and my son lit up like a light bulb when he realized how many musical opportunities are available here. Meanwhile, my daughter was just completely charmed by Pablo and the Williamsburg scene overall. I’m not sure if it was Rosarito’s delicious strawberry water, the effects of the best jalapeño margarita I have ever had, or just having someone be so warm and welcoming to us, but we found ourselves feeling completely at home here.
Since leaving Seattle, we had been having a hard time feeling at home; there seemed to be something missing for us in the big city. So when, while getting into the car to head home, my son said, “Mom, I want to live here” and my daughter seconded that feeling, I agreed. Without giving it another thought, we packed up and moved to Williamsburg two weeks later. That might sound crazy, but we knew that what we found in Williamsburg was a home and a community. We love that we now are part of a neighborhood. We love that there is something for every person in our family just outside our door. For my son there are endless guitar stores, an incredible music scene and long-boarding down Kent Avenue. For my daughter there are art, art classes, parks and all of the fun seasonal family friendly activities. For me there is yoga, biking and a quick commute to work.
Some of the best restaurants, bars and coffee shops in New York City are in Williamsburg. And, since Williamsburg is like a small community, the business owners really get to know their customers. I know the guys at Blue Bottle Coffee by name and they know my name. It’s nice to feel a bit like a small town in a big city.
For a busy, working, single mother, convenience was also a key factor for my decision to move here. So it’s great that there is a new market that is opening soon a block away from us on Kent Avenue, in addition to the other local drug stores and shops. Whether you want to see the latest movie at the new theatre, eat and dine at Nitehawk, or pick an indie flick, most activities are found within a few minutes of your home when you live here.
Williamsburg is a great place for families with teens and families in general. The opportunities we have for fun things to do while living here are endless. Our family has taken advantage of the East River Ferry to explore Governor’s Island and to visit MoMA PS1 in Long Island City. Additionally, we love family day at Brooklyn Bowl or movie night in the parks in Williamsburg. We’ve also hopped on the ferry for just two stops to watch movies in DUMBO over the summer.
When we made this move, I was working in Manhattan at Astor Place and within a few months found myself taking a new job with a residential real estate brokerage firm, MNS. We have an office on Bedford Avenue and are now opening a second office on Kent Avenue, one block away from our home. Between my personal and professional life, I have watched Williamsburg grow significantly in just one year and I know it will continue over the next year. It seems that everyone has discovered what we did, that Williamsburg is an incredible place to live, work and play.
Jennifer Johnsen is the Executive Director of Sales for MNS Real Estate.