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Characterized by converted warehouses and its proximity to the East River, Williamsburg is a growing hub that serves as a home to young "hipsters" seeking the artsy vibe of Manhattan's East Village. Williamsburg extends from the East River to Bushwick Avenue and from Flushing Avenue to Nassau Avenue.
The Dutch West India Company acquired WIlliamsburg as part of a purchase from the local Native Americans. It would later become a Polish and Italian neighborhood with a thriving Hasidic community. The area began gentrifying at the end of the 20th century; however a large-scale rezoning of the area sped up the process, turning the industrial area into a residential neighborhood with Tribeca-style lofts.
Today, "The 'Burg" is the center of hip culture, embracing an alternative artsy style complete with street art. In fact, it's becoming such a popular area that hipsters are beginning to head east to Bushwick in search of more reasonable prices. A notable Williamsburg landmark is WIlliamsburg Savings Bank headquarters, located at Broadway and Driggs Avenue. The recently restored building sits across from the renowned Peter Luger Steakhouse. The neighborhood is also home to the Domino Sugar Refinery, which is set to be converted into a multi-use development. The famous Kellog's Diner is right off the Lorimer stop on the L train.
With its waterfront location, Williamsburg is naturally a sought-after destination for apartment hunters looking for river views, as well as views of the Manhattan skyline. A number of developments have popped up in the past decade, including The Edge, one of the largest developments in New York City. This waterfront apartment complex is home to simplexes, lofts, duplexes, triplexes and townhouses. It spans two blocks and boasts an indoor, open-air pool.
The neighborhood has a number of parks, most notably McCarren Park, which offers various recreational activities, including a weekend farmer's market and a historic public pool opened by Robert Moses in 1936. East River Park is another hotspot with summer concerts, as well as the return of the Brooklyn Flea Market every Sunday. It's cousin festival Smorgasborg -- a flea market for foodies -- comes to the park on Saturdays.
The growing neighborhood has attracted a number of celebrities, namely "Gossip Girl's" Ed Westwick, and "One Tree Hill's" James Lafferty, both residents of the aforementioned premium apartment complex The Edge. NY1 anchor Pat Kiernan also owns a home in Williamsburg.
While Williamsburg is known for its burgeoning young "hipster" community, the area is also home to some great schools, including Midwood High School, the top-ranking school attended by "Prison Break" actor and Princeton graduate Wentworth Miller.
Bedford Avenue is at the center of Williamsburg's action. Popular dining spots include Reynard, a casual Andrew Tarlow restaurant in the Wythe Hotel; French bistro Juliette, which offers beautiful scenic outdoor seating; and Pies 'n Thighs, the Southern comfort food haven. Nitehawk Cinema screens indie movies while offering full-service meals in each theater; and the Coney Island-inspired Brooklyn Bowl takes patrons back to the days of yore.