Those who live in the “flyover” zone of the United States may not know Park Slope, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY, although they would likely recognize the iconic brick and brownstone townhouses and tree-lined streets (where parking is nearly impossible). The neighborhood is located near Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the Brooklyn Museum, offering relative quiet compared to Manhattan. Park Slope’s proximity has historically made the neighborhood an area of authentic community. Suleiman Osman, a Slope native and assistant professor of American Studies at George Washington University told the New York Times that the urban revitalization of Park Slope that started in the 1960’s was a “postwar middle-class search for urban authenticity as a refuge from mass consumer culture.” Fifty years later the neighborhood is a family-friendly mash-up of hip New York, vibrant café life, organic restaurants, co-ops, museums, galleries, creative capitol and good schools.
The landmark architecture of Park Slope is comprised of blocks of row houses, brownstone, Queen Anne, Renaissance Revival and Romanesque mansions. Thanks to preservationists, many of the historic 19th Century and early 20th Century buildings are still in tact despite having undergone subdivision and then reconsolidation back into single or double family dwellings. But working on historic buildings requires special care. Susan Leboff learned this during the recent renovation of the kitchen in her Park Slope townhouse. “A contractor we know advised us against Corian or anything heavy without reinforcing our basement because in his experience, those materials made the old Brooklyn row houses sag,” says Leboff. “Having already reinforced the basement, I could not see reinforcing it more.” So Leboff started researching other countertop materials that could give her the sleek look and durability she wanted without compromising the integrity of the structure. “We had redone a country cottage kitchen with laminate counters and they looked just as good, if not better than, Corian,” says Leboff. “Then we read the Consumer Reports kitchen guide which gave laminate high scores, so we started looking at Wilsonart.” In the end, Leboff chose Wilsonart Premium Laminate in Black Alicante, a large-scale black marble accented with fine white and black veining. “The countertops look stunning,” says Leboff. “You can come see for yourself. People don’t need to buy Corian or stone, the Wilsonart laminate is every bit as nice.”
While Park Slope’s family-friendly gentility and creative, crunchy hipness sometimes make it a target for razzing from other New Yorkers (“What’s with all the trees and mommies? This is supposed to be Brooklyn.”), it was ranked the number 1 most desirable neighborhood in New York in 2010, according to New York Magazine. If you visit, plan on using the great public transit system and keep an eye out for historic architecture and interesting locally owned endeavors. The residents are also known to be friendly, even offering to show you their renovated kitchens on occasion. But watch out for the strollers.