Brooklyn. It’s one of the most unique places on earth. It’s the melting pot Manhattan wants to be but is too busy being ‘business-like.’ The current label for Brooklyn is ‘trendy.’ She’s not. She is blue collar, nine to five. She punches out, sits on the couch, has a beer and watches the game. She is lunch pail. Above all else, she is proud.
She takes absolutely no crap from anyone. Much in the way Sicilians correct you when you label them Italians, the denizens of Brooklyn do the same when you call them New Yorkers. Brooklynites, they politely but firmly insist. Brooklyn is a brand, an identity. That’s why she is mistaken for a hipster haven. She’s actually the girl everybody knows, but few people get. Brooklyn IS, above all else, defiant.
She’s served on the frontlines. During America’s first war, the costliest battle of the American Revolution was fought here. As the famous historian David McCulloch remarked, “The declaration was signed in ink in Philadelphia, but in blood in Brooklyn.” She’s served in the factory.
The ‘Can Do’ Brooklyn Navy Yard produced the ship that started the war, the Arizona, and the one on whose deck she ended, the Missouri, along with a litany of America’s famed ships. From there, Brooklyn’s ‘can do’ became manifest in culture and sport. Marianne Moore, Walt Whitman, Richard Wright, among others honed their craft here. Michael Jordan was born here.
Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier… HERE. Jay-Z, The Notorious BIG and the Beastie Boys all learned to rhyme on her corners. There’s nothing hipster about Brooklyn’s identity. There’s a work ethic.
This work ethic last wrapped itself around a team in 1957. The Dodgers left, and Brooklyn’s name actually lived up to it’s Dutch meaning ‘Broken Land’. She was listless and crestfallen, for she was bereft of a hometown team. The 70s and 80s saw Brooklyn take it on the chin. The early 90s showed an awareness of this decay, but an inability to slow it. But today, that’s a distant memory. The borough is back.
Greenepoint. Brooklyn Heights. Sunset Park. Coney Island. Red Hook. All these neighborhoods were where dreams went to die. Now they are born anew. Brooklyn is back. That fighter’s spirit answering the bell yet again. This return began when Coney Island roared back, punctuated by the affiliate of the Mets, the Brooklyn Cyclones coming into being. The identity is omnipresent. The brand ‘BROOKLYN’ was alive and well. Now, instead of one team, she has three.
The area around the Barclays Center is bustling, nestled between two of Brooklyn’s great parks, Prospect and Fort Greene. There’s a palpable buzz on the street. It’s as identifiable as number 42 hook sliding under a catchers tag at home, that thing known as civic pride? In Brooklyn we call it swagger.
This long journey to resurgence brought the wayward Nets home from the swamp, and today, took Long Island’s shuffling unwanted team, the once fabled Islanders in to her house and made them her own. Brooklyn is back.
The Western Tip of Long Island is Brooklyn. And at long last, a hockey team has a home. And a borough, that once tore at the ear drums with a deafening “LETS GO DODGERS” can now change it’s cadence and learn “LETS GO ISLANDERS.”