"New York" magazine's choice for the 'Most Livable Neighborhood' in New York in 2010, Park Slope is the quintessential family friendly neighborhood. Its tree-lined streets and proximity to Olmsted & Vaux's "true" masterpiece Prospect Park make this place an ideal place to raise children, giving rise to countless "stroller" punch-lines. Situated between Flatbush and Prospect avenues from Fourth Avenue to the west side of the park, this neighborhood is characterized by beautifully restored brownstones and a rich cultural vibe.
First inhabited by the Lenape Native Americans, Park Slope was settled by the Dutch who farmed the region for over 200 years. In the 1850s, local lawyer and railroad developer Edwin Clarke Litchfield purchased large portions of the land and sold it to residential developers. The late 19th century brought many Victorian mansions along the west side of the park (known as the Gold Coast), aiming to take full advantage of the spectacular park views.
The area experienced a decline in the 1950s and 1960s, with wealthier families heading to more suburban areas. Gentrification in the area began around the late 1960s, after Evelyn and Everett Ortner renovated their brownstone at 272 Berkeley Place, leading to a larger neighborhood clean-up effort, and earning them the title of "the couple that saved Park Slope."
Today, Park Slope is a magnet for families and young professionals alike. Its pedestrian friendly streets and pre-war residences give it a charming, small-town feel, attracting notable residents like Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kerry Russell and Steve Buscemi.
Though the area is coveted for its exquisite brownstones, Park Slope also boasts several luxury condominiums. Prospect Park West, overlooking Prospect Park, is lined with elegant and luxurious pre-war co-ops, while the once sparsely developed Fourth Avenue is rapidly giving rise to modern condominium towers.
Park Slope is an area rich with history. One of its most recognizable landmarks is Grand Army Plaza. In 1892, the Soldiers and Sailors Arch at the plaza was unveiled with President Grover Cleveland presiding over the ceremony. The neighborhood has also played a prominent role in baseball history, with Washington Park serving as the former playing field of the Brooklyn Atlantics, later to become the Brooklyn Dodgers. The area's biggest gem is the sprawling Prospect Park, pride and joy of architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. The neighborhood attraction is said to be the Central Park designers' true opus because they had more freedom with the project.
Another notable Park Slope landmark is the Old Stone House, a 1933 reconstruction of the original house that played central role in the Battle of Brooklyn. Prominent houses of worship include Beth Elohim, the largest reform Jewish synagogue in Brooklyn, and the Greek Melkite Church of the Virgin Mary, which offers services in Arabic.
Park Slope has exceptional public and private schools and a strong sense of community. One of the oldest and largest food co-ops in the world, the Park Slope Food Co-op has about 15,000 members from Park Slope and surrounding areas.
Fifth and Seventh avenues in Park Slope serve as the commercial hubs of the area with a broad selection of shops and restaurants. Some notable shops are Cog & Pearl, which sells handcrafted accessories by local designers, and Bird, which sells high-end brands like Stella McCartney. For a cultural experience, neighborhood residents also enjoy the reflecting pools and walking trails at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden or the themed exhibits at the Brooklyn Museum.