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Good, bad and ugly commutes into midtown

An old ferry terminal and pier in Gantry

An old ferry terminal and pier in Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City. (Agaton Strom/amNY) Credit: An old ferry terminal and pier in Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City. (Agaton Strom/amNY)

New Yorkers brace themselves for sky-high rents, but for most, living in Manhattan is absolutely cost-prohibitive. That's why most who work in Manhattan must live in nearby boroughs like Queens and Brooklyn, where the space is ampler and the rents are lower. However, one sacrifice if you work in Manhattan is proximity to your job.

Here are some brokers' picks for the best commutes into midtown:

Long Island City
Long Island City is just across the East River from midtown and the Upper East Side, and as people are priced out of Manhattan, the Western Queens neighborhood has gained in popularity. The biggest selling point for many workers is the speedy commute.

It's 15 minutes door to door from Long Island City to midtown, according to neighborhood residents. The Court Square stop connects commuters to the E, M, G, and 7 trains. The 7 train, of course, goes straight into the heart of midtown, terminating at Times Square.

Williamsburg has stayed popular because of its proximity to Manhattan and always-growing art community.

"Williamsburg is very popular because of the L train," said Anthony DelleCave, vice president of Citi Habitats.

Laura Bluher, 22, a photographer and performance artist, says that it's a 25-minute commute into Manhattan on the L, which runs between Brooklyn and 14th Street.
"I love living on the L," Bluher said.

Fort Greene
Fort Greene is a less-obvious commuter neighborhood and is situated in northwest Brooklyn, above Prospect Park. It's a 25-minute subway ride to midtown, and nine trains stop at the subway hub at Atlantic Avenue/Pacific Street, along with the Long Island Rail Road. The Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges are easy to get to from here as well for drivers.

Shameika Wade, a senior associate broker at Corcoran, is a huge proponent of Fort Greene. "Fort Greene in particular is situated perfectly such that if you have to go into the city, you are at the helm of the majority of where the lines stop," Wade said.

Astoria has become one of Queens' most popular commuter neighborhoods. It is situated just across from Roosevelt Island off Manhattan's Upper East Side.

Close to Manhattan via the N and R (10 to 20 minutes to midtown), "It's a straight shoot. As long as it's rush hour, it's a fast commute," said Andrew Pantoja, 29, an Astoria resident who works in publishing. "I've been in Astoria for over three years and I love it. I grew up in Brooklyn in Bensonhurst taking the train for an hour and 15-minute commute."

Brooklyn Heights
Just across the river from Lower Manhattan and south of the Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Heights is a pricier neighborhood, even comparable to Manhattan. But the accessibility (and great city views) makes it a great option for commuters who can afford it.

"There is a huge convenience in the commute. Living there gives you an easy commute to downtown Manhattan and midtown," said Citi Habitats' DelleCave. The Borough Hall/Court Street subway hub connects to the 4, 5, R, 2 and 3, and it takes about 15 minutes on the 4 and 5 to get to midtown.

Other neighborhoods in the boroughs may seem like a deal, but if you need a fast commute, you're out of luck. Some of the worst include:

Clinton Hill
Clinton Hill, a neighborhood in the north-central portion of Brooklyn, prides itself on brownstone-lined streets and historic houses. Additionally, it is home to The Pratt Institute, which attracts students and artists to the nabe.

However, the commute from Clinton Hill is what makes living in the neighborhood difficult. Both the C and G serve the area, but the G can be a frustrating ride.

"The G line is notorious for being inconsistent and unreliable," DelleCave said.

Christiana Theophanopoulos, 21, lives in Clinton Hill and works in advertising in Manhattan. She agrees that commuting around the G can be difficult. "I wish it was a direct train instead of having to switch," she said. "But on weekdays it's OK, I just wish it was faster on the weekends."

Greenwood Heights
Located between Park Slope and Sunset Park, Greenwood Heights gets its name from the famous Greenwood Cemetery, which helps define the neighborhood's borders. It is a good option for residents who are looking for a cheaper option to the pricey surrounding nabes.

Recent real estate development has prospered in the area, and as a result there has been an increase in condominium apartments. These apartments often come equipped with luxury details that are hard to find in other places of the city.

"I've been renting a lot over there but the commute is an issue," DelleCave aid.

Serviced by only the R train and buses despite the benefit of the increased space, quality and lower costs, residents are often left disappointed with the public transportation system.

Park Slope
Park Slope, although popular for its family-friendly feel and beautiful streets, is a longer commute than people would expect.

The G, F and R trains service the Slope, though with few stations in the neighborhood, most apartments are still a hike from the nearest stop.
Jeff Miller of Prudential says that he has had clients rule out Park Slope because of the commute.

"They thought it was too complicated of a commute," he explains.

Joseph Lagrasta, who moved to Park Slope to suit the needs of his growing family, has no complaints about the commute.

"The F is right outside of my apartment building," he said.
But despite the easy access, Lagrasta says the F line can sometimes be unreliable and his commute takes upward of 45 minutes to his job in midtown.

Red Hook
Red Hook, located in west Brooklyn, is the only section of New York City that has full frontal views of the Statue of Liberty.

However, this view comes at a price. Subway service in the area is sparse, and so most residents travel by bus. Water ferry service is also available between IKEA and Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan. But no matter how you would choose to go, commutes are at least half an hour to midtown.

"It's not a good commute. There's nothing nearby and you have a long walk to the subway. It's a huge inconvenience," DelleCave said.

Dyker Heights
A residential neighborhood in the southwest corner of Brooklyn, Dyker Heights is notorious for its lengthy commute into the city.

With the only options being the bus or traveling to nearby Bay Ridge for the R train, commuters can expect a long daily trip to Manhattan.

"That's impossible. It's a terrible commute of about an hour," DelleCave said.


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