BROOKLYN

Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Guide

Nestled between Cobble Hill and Red Hook, Carroll Gardens is a Brooklyn neighborhood known for its picturesque greenery-filled streets and bustling corridors of local businesses. Unlike almost any other brownstone-lined Brooklyn blocks, Carroll Gardens’ streets are marked by an abundance of lovingly tended front yards. Because its original 1846 street plan was designed around one of Brooklyn’s oldest public parks, the homes are set further back from the street, creating the gardens the neighborhood is known for. Besides its scenery, Carroll Gardens is famous for its vibrant Italian-American culture, and its commercial strips are rife with family-run Italian restaurants, bakeries, and groceries. Over the past two decades, many chic new boutiques, vintage stores, bookstores, and destination restaurants have moved into the neighborhood as young families and professionals have migrated to the area, creating a unique blend of quaint charm and hipster novelty, free of chains and franchises. Today, Carroll Gardens is a lively, family-friendly neighborhood perfect for anyone looking for a sense of cozy, communal charm. 

Carroll Gardens Real Estate Stats

MEDIAN SALE PRICE

$2,800,000

MEDIAN RENTAL PRICE

$5,600

An Abbreviated History of Carroll Gardens

South Brooklyn was home to the Lenape people before the arrival of Dutch settlers in the mid-1600s, and passed into British hands in the leadup to the Revolutionary War. The development of Carroll Gardens was jump-started by a trolley built through the neighborhood after the war, intended to transport people to Green-Wood Cemetery, south of what is now Carroll Gardens. By coincidence, the trolley connected to a Manhattan ferry. This new mode of transit rendered bucolic Brooklyn suddenly convenient for business people who needed to commute to the city’s financial center.

Sitting in the center of the neighborhood lies Carroll Park, one of the oldest parks in Brooklyn, built in the 1840s and consecrated in honor of Charles Carroll, a General who defended the area during the Revolutionary War. Homes in the oldest section of the neighborhood, adjacent to the park, are situated further back in their lots than most homes in Brooklyn, creating a landscape of front yards rare in New York City. Gowanus Greek and the swampland bounding it were dredged in the 1860s, birthing the commercial waterway we know today as the Gowanus Canal. This drove development, and more homes with the neighborhood’s signature front yards were built into what would become the Carroll Gardens Historic District.

The first half of the twentieth century saw an influx of Italian immigrants to the area, largely dock workers who labored in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. These residents set up Italian groceries, restaurants, bakeries, and recreational hubs, like bocce courts. It wasn’t until the middle of the century when urban planner Robert Moses led construction of the two expressways that now bound the neighborhood, that the area began drawing a more diverse range of residents. By 1980, the neighborhood’s proximity to the waterfront, easy access to Manhattan, and historic architecture had attracted many upper-middle-class professionals. Today, the area retains a significant Italian-American population along with many Italian-American businesses and Roman Catholic Churches, while also welcoming a diverse array of young families. 

NEIGHBORHOOD BOUNDARIES

  • Brooklyn Queens Expressway to the West
  • Degraw Street to the North
  • Hoyt and Smith Street to the East
  • Hamilton Avenue to the South
Smith-Ninth Street Station
G F
Carroll Street Station G F

 

prospect park

Residents Love This Neighborhood Because

  • Great mix of old and new Brooklyn establishments and residents
  • Architecturally and historically significant homes and churches
  • Small blocks impart a sense of coziness
  • Italian-American heritage reflected in local businesses
  • Bustling corridors of shops, restaurants, and bars on Court and Smith Street
  • Casual, quiet neighborhood vibe
  • Extremely family-friendly –– chalk drawings on the sidewalk and many strollers on the streets
  • Uniquely designed brownstone lots feature front yard gardens
  • Fifteen-minute subway ride to Manhattan

What to expect

Cafés

+13

Hospitals

1

Community Gardens

1

Dog Runs

1

Libraries

1

Parks

4

Playgrounds

4

Restaurants

+25

Yoga Studios

4

soho architecture

Carroll Gardens Landmarks and Cultural Institutions

A NEIGHBORHOOD TOUR

Get to know the neighborhood by visiting its most notable landmarks and sites. From museums and sculptures, to parks, markets, and hidden neighborhood gems, you’ll find everything you need to know about the neighborhood’s most unique and historical attractions.

Carroll Park

One of Brooklyn’s three oldest parks, this oasis was founded as a private community garden in the late 1840s. When it was purchased by the city of Brooklyn a decade later, it became the third public park in all of Brooklyn. A 1993 redesign installed modern playgrounds, spray showers for children to run through in the summer, and a beautiful cast iron gate. These improvements, alongside the preexisting basketball courts, baseball diamond, and bocce courts, mean that this park has something fun in store for everyone. 

St Paul’s Episcopal Church

On the corner of Carroll and Clinton, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church has served congregants since 1869, rendering it one of Brooklyn’s longest continuously operating Churches. Designed by one of the United States’ most renowned Gothic Revival architects, the granite and limestone structure featuring multiple stained glass windows is a neighborhood landmark as well as an architectural site recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. 

Invisible Dog Art Center

A former factory building constructed in 1863, this 30,000 square foot space once housed a manufacturing operation for belts, including the ‘invisible’ belt made famous by Walt Disney, from which today’s art center takes its name. Invisible Dog Art Center, which opened in 2009, is both a gallery space and community center for studio artists. Its first floor hosts visual art exhibitions, performance art installations, and panels featuring an array of artists. On the second and third floors are more than 30 artist studios, where local creators work side by side across various mediums. 

DiMattina Playground

This almost 2-acre park includes the neighborhood’s biggest dog run, multiple play structures, and spray showers. The dog run is a neighborhood hotspot, with separate areas for large and small dogs to ensure safe playtime for all residents’ pets. Founded in 1947, this park is named after Vincent J. DiMattina, a military veteran and lawyer who was a central figure in Brooklyn civic, religious, and political life in the 1950s and 60s. After serving in the US Navy, he spent over a decade in Brooklyn working for the Veterans Affairs organization and the New York State Assembly.

South Congregational Church

This stately and stunning brick Church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated an official New York City Landmark. Its chapel was constructed in 1851, followed by the larger church in 1857. Its ladies’ parlor and rectory were designed in the 1880s and 90s by renowned architects Frederick Merry and Woodruff Leeming, and the Church complex as a whole is recognized as one of Brooklyn’s most beautiful exemplars of Early Romanesque Revival architecture. Abolitionist preacher Henry Ward Beecher, father of noted author Harriet Beecher Stowe, is believed to have selected the location for the Church in the mid-1800s. 

Smith Street Stage

Smith Street Stage is a theater company devoted to putting on classical plays for a modern audience. Since its founding in 2010 with a five-actor production of Romeo and Juliet, it has become a year-round theater putting on shows both in its own space and in Carroll Park, for a summertime Shakespeare in the Park series. Smith Street Stage is one of South Brooklyn’s most beloved live theater spaces, entertaining thousands of people a year and winning multiple New York Innovative Theater Awards. 

Books Are Magic

This bookstore is both a resident favorite and a tourist attraction. famous for its uniquely curated selection (by neighborhood resident, NYT best-selling author, and store owner Emma Straub) and the beautiful mural adorning its facade, which draws Instagrammers from across the city. The store also hosts events open to the community, from author panels to readings and book clubs. Through its partnership with the nonprofit Brooklyn Book Bodega, Books Are Magic connects neighborhood literature lovers to a program that increases access to books, book-related community meetings, and literacy lessons to low-income students in Brooklyn. 

Dennett Doors

Dennett Place, a small side street in Carroll Gardens, is often left off maps and even GPS systems. It’s a must-see slice of Old Brooklyn, one Carroll Gardens residents stroll through often. On a one-block stretch of the street, homes have small, four-foot doors residents refer to as ‘hobbit doors.’ These architectural oddities are an idiosyncrasy of the neighborhood, one that remains a mystery to historians. The block is home to many of the neighborhood’s oldest residents, and is a stronghold of the neighborhood’s Italian American culture, with some families passing down homes through more than four generations. 

Brooklyn Strategist

This combination clubhouse, cafe, and boutique is a hub of family-friendly community activity. Centered around a space for board game play, Brooklyn Strategist offers after-school board game clubs for kids, summer programming, adult recreational clubs, competitive hobby leagues, chess lessons, and a 500+ game library that anyone can drop in and play at a table. 

Yesterday’s News

This antique store is a destination for vintage lovers of all stripes, carrying an always-surprising selection of everything from furniture, clothing, old magazines, out-of-print books, postcards from yesteryear, and vinyl records. Always busy on a Saturday afternoon, this store is a favorite for Brooklyn residents looking to add some retro flair to their life after a stroll through Carroll Gardens’ quaint streets. 

Architecture In Carroll Gardens

Queen Anne

queen anne

GREEK REVIVAL ARCHITECTURE

GREEK REVIVAL

Italianate

Federal

Notable New Yorkers

Who Have Lived in Carroll Gardens

Carroll Gardens_Emma Straub

EMMA STRAUB

Artist

Carroll Gardens_Mike Birbiglia

MIKE BIRBIGLIA

Comedian, Actor, Director, Writer, Producer

Carroll Gardens_Solange Knowles

SOLANGE KNOWLES

Singer

Carroll Gardens_Daniel Squadron

DANIEL SQUADRON

New York Senator

MICHELLE GOLDBERG

Journalist

Carroll Gardens_Stanlyey Crouch

STANLEY CROUCH

Poet, Novelist, Cultural Critic

Carroll Gardens_Jenny Slate

JENNY SLATE

Comedian, Actress, Author

Carroll Gardens_Ari Melber

ARI MELBER

 Journalist

Popular Food & Drink

PAD THAI

UGLY BABY

407 Smith Street

pizza

LUCALI

575 Henry Street

seafood pasta

BUTTERMILK CHANNEL

524 Court Street

oysters and wine

BAR BETE

263 Smith Street

Coffee

NILI

360 Smith Street

pasta italian

FRANKIES 457 SPUNTINO

457 Court Street

Cocktail

BARELY DISFIGURED

257 Smith Street

Sandwich

COURT STREET GROCERS

485 Court Street

All Notable New Yorker photos courtesy of Wikipedia via Wikimedia Commons. Photo of Emma Straub by slowking4; Photo of Mike Birbiglia by Brian Friedman; Photo of Solange Knowles by Neon Tommy; Photo of Daniel Squadron by Enda333; Photo of Michelle Goldberg by Joann Jovinelly; Photo of Stanley Crouch by Martine Bisagni; Photo of Jenny Slate by Mingle Media TV; Photo of Ari Melber by MSNBC.

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