Whether you live in Brooklyn or are just visiting, you may already know that it is full of diverse neighborhoods and many attractions. Brooklyn’s population has grown by five percent over the last seven years, more than any other county in New York State, according to a recent analysis by the U.S. Census Bureau. With an influx of new residents and businesses sprouting throughout the borough, there is an increasing need for a new mode of transportation to provide reliable and convenient access to all the gems it has to offer.
Enter the Brooklyn Queens Connector, a proposed, state of the art streetcar that would run for 14 miles along the waterfront, from Sunset Park in Brooklyn all the way up to Astoria in Queens.
The BQX link would be New York City’s first new rail system since the subway began, according to the Friends of the BQX website, which paints a rosy vision for commuters, day-trippers and tourists. The streetcar “will be efficient and emissions-free and it will run on tracks flush with the existing roadway,” designed to be environmentally friendly. The BQX would also be ADA-accessible and include bicycle parking and stops every half mile. The streetcar would integrate with current transportation options, including 10 ferry landings, 30 different bus routes, 15 subway lines, 116 Citi Bike stations and six LIRR lines.
It’s planned to run 24 hours a day at five-minute intervals during peak hours and will cost the same as a bus or subway ride (including free transfers). , like the MTA New York City subway, it will be impervious to street traffic, even during rush hour. It would also be user-friendly, which natives and tourists alike will appreciate.
It’s abundantly clear that the line—currently proposed for a 2024 launch—would cultivate job growth and provide much-needed transit to underserved areas that are expected to see a 30 percent increase in population over the next 30 years.
The following is a hop-on/hop-off guide to fun experiences along the BQX route. No need to wait until the BQX debuts; these Brooklyn sites already are on the fast track for locals and visitors alike.
Brooklyn Army Terminal
The BQX would begin by the Brooklyn Army Terminal, where a ferry connects residents to both Wall Street in Manhattan and, as of last summer, Bay Ridge. The proposed line would provide wheelchair-accessible transit options for NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn.
The BQX would boost accessibility to Sunset Park, a residential neighborhood with a lively shopping and dining corridor that is home to many authentic Latin American and Chinese restaurants centered around 5th Avenue. In recent years, creative businesses have flocked to the neighborhood. There are craft breweries such as Five Boroughs Brewing Co., which recently opened a taproom that is both kid and dog friendly—as well as established crowd-pleasers such as BEYOND at Liberty View.
When visiting Sunset Park, be sure to stop at Industry City, where revitalized warehouses have brought new businesses to the waterfront district. A vibrant mixed-use hub, Industry City is the 35-acre home base to a creative community of art collectives, businesses and exciting retail stores. The food hall features uniquely Brooklyn spots: a boutique custom bike shop/Italian gourmet café, as well as the world’s first avocado bar. Industry City also hosts a seasonal rotation of events with something for everyone, whether your tastes trend toward sample sales, concerts or beer festivals at Big Brew.
The BQX would then snake into charming Red Hook, a historic but somewhat secluded neighborhood before the arrival of ferry services, given that it is currently a 24-minute walk from the nearest train station. Here, foodies can shop at Fairway Market, which is famous for its selection of quality, fine foods and its outdoor seating areas with clear views of the Statue of Liberty. Other attractions include Hometown BBQ, which specializes in pit-smoked meats, bean-to-bar chocolate boutique Raaka and artisanal distillery Van Brunt Stillhouse.
In Red Hook, you’ll also find Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie — a tucked-away shop that perfectly blends the sweet and tangy tastes of this classic Floridian dessert. There’s a truly old-school saloon called Sunny’s, which resembles a biker’s bar in the south circa 1954, and the hip Italian/Dominican cocktail bar Botanica, whose whirring table fans, airy interior and delectable rum cocktails take you right to the Caribbean. Visitors should also check out the Red Hook Lobster Pound, which serves up rolls of tender lobster meat in bubbling butter, and Brooklyn Crab–a towering, tri-level seafood shack draped in fairy lights that offers mini-golf, bocce and cornhole with buckets of raw oysters and blue crab.
Next, the BQX will reach DUMBO, one of the largest and most diverse attractions in the borough. There’s the one-of-a-kind-furniture handmade by Mark Jupiter, and the Made in NY Media Center, the interactive workspace the provides resources, events and mentorship to media and tech entrepreneurs, innovators and artists.
DUMBO is also home to Brooklyn Grange. The 2.5 acre “urban farm” is housed atop two rooftops, one of which is at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The site is another Brooklyn example of a once-industrial site transformed into a high-demand creative mix of business and retail operations. Try Kings County Distillery, which offers a tasting room, factory tours, workshops and cultural programs that explore the rich history of the area, hosted by BLDG 92.
Spanning more than 1.3 miles of Brooklyn’s waterfront, Brooklyn Bridge Park runs from the Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO to the Columbia Heights waterfront district. The waterfront promenade has a man-made beach, picnic and barbecue areas, five acres of basketball, handball, bocce and shuffleboard courts three athletic fields, a playground, a pop-up pool, dog run, carousel, kayaking/fishing/sailing trips in the summer, bars, restaurants, and a moored barge where you can listen to incredible classical music concerts while watching the sun set over the Manhattan skyline. Visitors can enjoy an ever-changing schedule of events, including outdoor movies, book readings and fitness classes on the lawn.
And if you want to soak up the most gorgeous views of the waterfront, there’s 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, a retreat designed by local artists using reclaimed materials and native greenery, proving that luxury need not come at the expense of the environment.
Next stop is Williamsburg, with its reputation as one of the hippest neighborhoods in Brooklyn—and all of New York City. Sleek waterfront condos and establishments like The Williamsburg Hotel, with its chic rooftop bar, have recently attracted a refined crowd. But Williamsburg is still the epicenter of boho-chic vibes, making it one of the world’s most fantastic people-watching opportunities. There is a multitude of unique bars and restaurants, and the BQX route will run right by the dine-in-movie-theater, Nighthawk Cinema; the rustic restaurant serving up Mediterranean delicacies, Anella; the bowling alley bar and music venue, Brooklyn Bowl; the warehouse-turned-nightclub, Output; and The William Vale Rooftop Bar, which offers stunning panorama of the city skyline.
Our last stop on the BQX line is Greenpoint, the Brooklyn hub of movies and TV shows. It’s the setting for such hits as Broad City and Master of None, which are produced by Broadway Stages, a film and television production company. Greenpoint also is an oasis of cool drinking holes, like the laundromat/bar Sunshine Laundromat and Pinball, and any local java lover’s favorite, Cafe Grumpy, which serves up house-roasted coffee blends. A breeding ground for creative spaces, Greenpoint is home to A/D/O, a 23,000-square-foot warehouse that invites visitors to explore innovation in design in response to the challenges presented by the environmental landscape. There’s also the Brooklyn Expo Center, a 60,000-square-foot event venue that caters to expansive interests, from Fermentation Festivals to Craft Fairs.
But Greenpoint also has managed to preserve some of its Polish heritage, and for the best food in Brooklyn, look no further than Krolewskie Jadlo. Pierogis, kielbasa, stuffed wild boar, and venison meat balls are served in a medieval setting fit for a king. In this magical borough, the present and the past coexist in harmony.
The BQX Line is still in its early planning stages. But there’s no need to wait; Brooklyn’s uniquely diverse waterfront neighborhoods beckon today’s traveler.
The latest report on completion of conceptual design was released on August 30, 2018 and can be found here.