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City Living: Windsor Terrace

Windsor Terrace

Windsor Terrace Photo Credit: Stephen Reiss

Windsor Terrace, a Brooklyn neighborhood sandwiched between the west side of Prospect Park and the east side of the Green-Wood Cemetery, is about as quiet a neighborhood as you’ll find in New York City. Even with the Prospect Expressway running north-south through the neighborhood, Windsor Terrace still radiates a feeling of small-town America.

Perhaps it’s because of the working class families that still reign over the streets, the seclusion afforded from only having two subway stops, or the zoning laws that have kept high rise buildings from going up. Whatever the reason, it’s an atmosphere cherished by both the long-time residents and the young families that have flocked to the area, looking for cheaper alternatives to neighboring Park Slope.

Once a predominantly Irish and Italian neighborhood, Windsor Terrace is now home to a mixed bag of cultures. “In my son’s kindergarten class, he’s the only one who speaks English as their first language,” said Luanne James, who moved to the neighborhood four years ago with her family. “Kids are Haitian, Israeli, German and Latin American. We have all of Brooklyn’s diversity.”

Though young families are moving in, most of the older families own their homes, so the threat of displacement or gentrification is kept to a minimum. There are recreational opportunities, but people aren’t moving to Windsor Terrace for an active nightlife. “People live here, but they party elsewhere,” said Leonora Stein, who both lives and works in the neighborhood. And that’s the way everyone seems to like it.

Find It:
Windsor Terrace is bounded by Prospect Park West to the north, Caton Avenue to the south, Prospect Park to the east and Green-Wood Cemetery to the west.

One Thing you Must Do:
Take in the assortment of housing styles, particularly along both Prospect Park Southwest and 16th Street. Stone row houses and brownstones sit right next to freestanding wood frame homes, complete with porches and backyards.

Did You Know:
Academy Award-winning movie Dog Day Afternoon was shot on Prospect Park West, between 17th and 18th Streets.

Farrell’s Bar & Grill, which no longer has a grill, will not only sell you a beer in a large Styrofoam cup, but you can also ask for a lid and take your beer to go.

Isaac Asimov used to live in Windsor Terrace when his father owned a small candy store on Windsor Place.

The Buzz:
In an effort to add more greenery to the streets of Windsor Terrace, the advocacy group Windsor Terrace Alliance has been trying to encourage city leaders to expand existing tree pits throughout the neighborhood. “Small pits don’t give roots enough room to grow and it cracks the pavement,” said Lauren Collins, chairman of the Windsor Terrace Alliance. Their efforts have been successful so far, with new tree pits appearing on streets throughout the area. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz even budgeted for new wrought iron tree pit guards that can be put up for free at the request of residents.

To Eat:
While there is an eclectic mix of restaurants along Prospect Park West, the neighborhood’s main business thoroughfare, many eateries are opening up along the southern end of Windsor Terrace.

Rhythm & Booze: 1674 10th Ave., (718) 788-9699
A neighborhood bar where you’re just as likely to hear modern rock on the jukebox as you are a Spanish language version of Engelbert Humperdink’s Man Without Love. Come to watch your favorite college or professional team (they have numerous televisions), stay for some of the best bar food in all of New York City, including a pork sandwich served on garlic bread or a delicious burger served on a toasted English muffin.

Crossroads Café: 1241 Prospect Ave., (718) 972-1852
The lines can get long in the small space, but there is outside seating and a basket of toys in the corner to keep children busy. Be warned – if you plan on coming to work on the great American novel, do it with a pen and paper. A sign on the register says they can no longer accommodate laptops.

Windsor Café: 220 Prospect Park West, (718) 788-9700
One of the newer additions to Prospect Park West, the Windsor Café is popular with both the newer residents and folks who have been living there for years. It’s more diner than café, and the huge menu caters to just about every taste.

Thai Tony’s: 3019 Fort Hamilton Pkwy., (718) 436-6932
The only Thai restaurant in Windsor Terrace, it’s small so avoid arriving with large groups. But the portions are generous and authentic, with many heading straight for signature Thai dishes like Pad Thai and Drunken Noodles.

To Shop:
If not on Prospect Park West, businesses seem haphazardly scattered throughout the rest of Windsor Terrace. More are choosing the neighborhood’s south side, much to the delight of area residents.
Juice Box Wine & Spirits: 1289 Prospect Ave., (718) 871-1115
The owners of this nearly 3-year-old wine shop chose the location because they noticed a dearth of wine shops in southern Windsor Terrace. Much like the name of the store, there is something for both children and adults. While parents shop for both regional and organic wines, their kids can goof around in the large plastic playhouse in the back of the store.

Babbo’s Books: 214 Prospect Park West, (718) 788-3475
Named after owner Leonora Stein’s nickname for her father (Babbo is what little kids call their dad in Italian), Babbo’s is the only bookstore in Windsor Terrace. The space is small, so books take up nearly every square inch, except for a hollowed out space in the back where customers can sit down in a chair and read. And watch where you step – there is a cat running around and you don’t want to step on its tail.

Brancaccio’s Food Shop: 3011 Fort Hamilton Pkwy., (718) 435-1997
Jose Brancaccio spent years as a chef in Manhattan before opening up this prepared foods eatery. The menu changes daily and the open kitchen allows customers to stand in the front and watch the cooks freshly prepare the day’s offerings.

Black Bear Vintage & Handmade: 469 16th St., (718) 768-0250
The sign above the store says “Liquors,” but the sandwich board out front assures you that inside you can find a decent selection of used, vintage and handmade wares. A good place to look for either clothes or a random assortment of porcelain tchotchke’s.

To Play:

Both adults and children can find an eclectic assortment of things to do in Windsor Terrace.

Farrell’s Bar & Grill: 215 Prospect Park West, (718) 788-8779
This nearly 80-year-old establishment is the quintessential Brooklyn bar. Customers are mostly Irish, working class, and firemen. It’s a window into the history of Windsor Terrace. Until Shirley MacLain came in on her own in the early 1970s and demanded service, the bar wouldn’t serve a woman who came in without a chaperone. Even if a woman was there, she couldn’t order from the bar. She would have to ring one of many small buzzers along the wall and the bartender would come and take her order.

Kensington Stables: 51 Caton Pl., (718) 972-4588
Don’t be surprised if you see a Clydesdale clomping down Ocean Parkway towards Prospect Park. It’s just a rider from Kensington Stables, one of the last stables in New York City. Many of the riders also volunteer as groomers in return for free or discounted lessons. For kids who are curious about riding horses, they can ride a pony up and down Caton Place for $3. And many parents will tell you a block party in Windsor Terrace isn’t complete without pony rides for the kids.
Cynthia King Dance Studio: 1256 Prospect Ave., (718) 437-0101
Most dance studios will require you to buy house slippers, but Cynthia King is the only dance studio in the world that requires you to buy vegan dance slippers. Made with synthetic leather, King (who is also an ethical vegan) advertises her slippers as “cruelty free.” The idea seems to have caught on; she has sold her slippers to dancers worldwide.

Fez Art Café: 240 Prospect Park West, (718) 369-0716
The art is just as important as the food at this French-Moroccan hookah bar. They partner with Babbo’s Books and host poetry readings every Monday (by local authors), have live music on weekends, and show obscure foreign movies every Wednesday.

Double Windsor: 210 Prospect Park West, (347) 725-3479
If the two beers on tap at Farrell’s don’t quite satisfy your drinking needs, go across the street to Double Windsor. With an exotic selection of tap beers – most of which you probably haven’t heard of – they are more than happy to give you a shot glass sized sample.


To See:
Windsor Terrace is mostly residential, but it happens to sit between two of New York’s most popular outdoor spaces.
Green-Wood Cemetery
More than 150 years old, this cemetery is almost as big as Prospect Park. It’s the final resting place of numerous famous New Yorkers, including artist Jean-Michael Basquiat, composer Leonard Bernstein, Samuel F.B. Morse, inventor of Morse code, and Gov. DeWitt Clinton. Visitors can also take trolley tours throughout the winding paths and rolling hills every Wednesday at 1pm. In October, the Martha Bowers of Dance Theatre Etcetera puts on an event called Angels and Accordions, where visitors can stroll through the cemetery and visit normally closed mausoleums while dancers play “angels,” their performances punctuated by live accordion music. Also not to be missed is the statue of Minerva, which stands at the highest point in Brooklyn. She looks out over the New York harbor, saluting the Statue of Liberty.

Prospect Park
This 585-acre public green space is one of Brooklyn’s most well known attractions. For residents of Windsor Terrace, they have easy access to the recently renovated Vanderbilt Playground, Lookout Hill, Prospect Park Lake, and the Peninsula, a secluded spot rich with geese and mallards that feed along the shore of the lake. People on the southwest side of the park don’t mind that they are far from the more popular attractions. It keeps the area peaceful with plenty of space to play on warm days and nights.

Real Estate:
Almost every apartment or home in Windsor Terrace is close to either Prospect Park or Green-Wood Cemetery. With no high-rise buildings, even second and third floor spaces offer great views.

To Rent
An 875 sq. foot one-bedroom garden apartment on 19th St. with washer/dryer and a shared backyard: $1,650
Contact: Michael Loew, Ideal Properties Group
mloew@idealpropertiesgroup.com (347) 319-0498
 
A pre-war one-bedroom on the southern end of Windsor Terrace with a huge living room just off Prospect Park: $1,700
Contact: Julian Schwartz, Brown Harris Stevens
jaschwartz@bhsusa.com, (718) 399 4101
 
A two-bedroom, one-bathroom newly renovated apartment on Terrace Place: $2,500
Conact: Erick Cruz, Rapid Realty
ercruz@rapidnyc.com (347) 372-8906
 
To Buy
A 600 sq. foot one bedroom in a pre-war, art deco elevator building with lots of natural light on Ocean Pkwy.: $275,000
Contact: Anne Buckley, Fillmore Real Estate
annebuckley@fillmore.com, (347) 451-3173
 
Pet friendly two-bedroom apartment on Prospect Park Southwest with hardwood floors, laundry facilities and views of Prospect Park: $485,000
Contact: Timothy Spence, Corcoran
Timothy.Spence@Corcoran.com, (212) 539-4996
 
Fully detached two family townhouse on E. 3rd St. with four bedrooms and a private parking space: $750,000
Contact: Carolyn Cedar, Prudential Elliman
carolyn.cedar@elliman.com (718) 840-2013

Q&A

Lauren Collins grew up in Greenwich Village and moved to Windsor Terrace in 2005. She is the chairman of the Windsor Terrace Alliance.

How did you end up in Windsor Terrace?
I never thought I would leave Manhattan. My husband and I were subletting around the city because of construction, and we saw a place here and loved it.

What do you like about living in Windsor Terrace?
It feels like a small town in an urban area. It’s warm and friendly with great people, block parties, chili cook offs, and a mish-mash of housing styles. It’s quiet and safe and you know people. There isn’t the anonymity that you find in other neighborhoods.

Who lives here?
It’s diverse. There’s a good mix of old and new, liberal and conservative. Older families don’t have to move and younger families aren’t trying to push them out. No one wants it gentrified and turned into another Park Slope.

What would you improve about the neighborhood?
There’s a lot of traffic from the expressway, which is dangerous for the kids. And there are too many empty storefronts that need to be filled. There isn’t enough shopping or economic stability. I don’t want these empty stores to be filled by Dunkin Donuts.

What do you think the neighborhood will look like in five years?
I don’t want Prospect Park West to look like Seventh Avenue in Park Slope. There’s already a Seventh Avenue. The neighborhood is healthy in an emotional way. People settle in and stay so it’s a very tight community.

Will you ever leave?
There’s no reason to.

 

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