InstaBlog: Cortleyou Road, Ditmas Park

Author's note: Warning—this is a blog-style post based on a social media post. Beware typos and poorly elucidated thoughts. For more polish, perhaps try an article!

A look at the bustling urbanism, attractive architecture, and all-around beautiful streetscape of Cortleyou Road, one of the main streets of Ditmas Park, Brooklyn.

Compared to places like Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Williamsburg, and the like, comparatively little buzz surrounds Ditmas Park. And yet, here you will find a deeply urban, deeply diverse neighborhood. Small businesses, which run the gamut from chic restaurants and cafes to dollar stores, workaday laundromats, and bodegas, fill the street. Street vendors are prevalent near the subway station. Sidewalks buzz with activity from all groups: children to the elderly, women and men, well-off and working class, all going about their business. The road itself is small, with limited traffic and many trees, making walking a natural and attractive experience. A touch I particularly love: the neighborhood has installed its own series of public benches, which are warmer and more attractive than New York's standard, if much appreciated, CityBenches.

Apartment buildings from three to four stories line the busy Cortleyou Road, while relatively tightly-packed residential homes spread in the streets beyond. Some of these remain single family homes, but a quick examination shows a very large number are divided into multiple units—a good density compromise. Almost all were built in tandem with the Brighton Line's transition from pleasure to commuter line, from around 1900 to 1920. Of particular note is the neighborhood's distinctive Victorian architecture, with heavy uses of columns, porches, and balconies. It gives the area a distinctive visual flair, which has led to the entire neighborhood being designated a historic district. While some would bemoan this fate, not only is the architecture gorgeous, but the designation gives the community one thing they can't get any other way with present regulations: control over the public-facing streetscape. While the neighborhood could probably use a bit more density, it would be best if it could be harmonized to the scale and style of the area.

All that said, sometimes you just need to stand back and let the streetscape speak for itself.

Based on an Instagram post.
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