Walking through Ditmas Park for the first time is a shock for many New Yorkers. Not only is it oddly thrilling to see big detached houses with real lawns within the city limits, but the houses themselves represent an eccentric mix of architectural styles, from Victorian to Colonial Revival to faux-Japanese. It’s a great place to explore at leisure, and nearby Cortelyou Road offers a rich selection of shops, restaurants, and bars.
What we call Ditmas Park has changed a bit over the years. The traditional boundaries are from Ocean Avenue to East 16th Street and from Dorchester Road to Newkirk Avenue, the section which contains the Ditmas Park Historic District, none of which are actually included in this walk. Now, you’re more likely to hear Ditmas Park used to refer to most of Victorian Flatbush, an area which includes the grand houses, small parks, and planned communities of Prospect Park South and Ditmas Park. This walk will start at Cortelyou Road before wandering north through the Prospect Park South Historic District towards Prospect Park.
Photo courtesy of Jimmy Ohio via Flickr.
Our walk begins at the Cortelyou Road Q train. You’ll exit right onto the neighborhood’s main drag, Cortelyou Road. The concentration of businesses only spans about ten blocks, from Coney Island Avenue to Flatbush Avenue. Take your time choosing the right spot for lunch, a coffee, or a beer.
Mushroom baguette at The Farm on Adderley | James F. via Yelp
You’ll have many good choices. Popular dining picks include farm-fresh American dishes at The Farm on Adderley, casual Middle Eastern food at Mimi’s Hummus, and Cafe Tibet, serving traditional Tibetan dishes in a fun space.
Grab some flowers and a drink | Sycamore Brooklyn via Facebook
As for popular bars, there’s Bar Chord, with its back yard space and amazing juke box, and Sycamore Bar & Flower Shop, which is both a flower shop and cocktail bar. If you’d just like to grab a coffee or a light bite, try Cafe Madeline.
A beautiful Ditmas Park house | Katarina via Flickr
When you’re ready to venture off Cortelyou, head north along Marlborough, Rugby, Argyle, or Stratford. All of these roads are lined with gorgeous freestanding houses with front lawns. Start walking and you’ll feel like you’re anywhere but New York City.
East 17th Street house | Chris Kreussling via Flickr
One block north, after you cross Beverley Road, you’ll be in the Prospect Park South Historic District, where you’ll find an eclectic mix of large houses built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The boundary of this enclave is Beverly, Coney Island Avenue, Church Avenue, and East 18th Street.
Some of the houses not to miss include the Colonial Revival G. Gale House at 1305 Albemarle (built in 1905 by H.B. Moore), and across the street, a 15-room mansion at 1306 Albemarle (1905, John J. Petit). Two blocks away, near Albemarle and Buckingham, there’s the Japanese house at 131 Buckingham Road (1903, Petit and Greene) and the William and Lulu Norwood House (1906, Walter S. Cassin), in the style of a Northern Italian villa.
As you continue north, you will be approaching the southern edge of the Prospect Park Parade Ground. Here, you will have hit the very southern edge of the Prospect Park Parade Ground. You can either continue into the park and enjoy its greenery, or head to the Church Avenue subway station, on East 18th Street between Caton and Church, to catch the B or Q train home.