InstaBlog: Avenue M, Midwood

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!

Walking down Avenue M into the heart of Midwood, and in particular, the center of its large Jewish community.

In comparison to the highly unpleasant, auto-centric Coney Island Avenue, turning onto Avenue M was a breath of fresh air. The street is narrow, the sidewalks are wide, and the buildings form a comforting, attractive street wall. New construction mixes in with old, adding apartments to a busy retail street without destroying its scale or appearance. If you're a sucker for odd, non-90° intersections like I am, you will love their prevalence, and the tiny plazas and interesting vistas that they create. Small businesses dominate; there are very few chains, creating the feeling of a complete neighborhood.

In short, Avenue M may physically be like many other Brooklyn shopping streets, but it's still well worth stopping and appreciating how nice that physical and social texture is.

Culturally you can feel the Jewish influence, from the vast majority of women wearing long skirts to the proliferation of kosher shops to the prevalence of Hebrew writing. While conservative, this isn't Hasidic territory, so it doesn’t feel exclusionary. Still, I did pause for a second before patronizing a local coffee shop: was I too much of an outsider? I let the thought pass, but that feeling of being an outsider in a New York City neighborhood is one which is quickly disappearing.

Inside the shop was a scene with characters that could've been pulled from central casting. I watched and listened from a table in the back as the Jewish owner asked a newly hired Hispanic woman if she knew about the story of how the Jews were expelled from Egypt. He then proceeded to tell the story in the friendliest way imaginable to a woman who was equal parts interested and overwhelmed as she tried to learn the ins and outs of a new shop. If I hadn't seen it, I might have assumed the story was just the product of stereotype... *laughs*

Based on an Instagram post.
See more Blog or Social Media posts.