An Afternoon in South Williamsburg: The Untapped Guide to the East River Ferry

When you get off at the South Williamsburg stop on the East River Ferry, it can be hard to figure out exactly where to go. The neighborhood is in that exact transition between industrial landscape and residential destination. Artists have been living in the warehouse lofts for years though and if you look a little more deeply, there’s some untapped locations to discover.

Our giveaway for a 1 month pass on the East River Ferry goes until October 31st, so hashtag your Instagram or Twitter photos with #untappedny and #eastriverferry. More details here.

Hidden Bookstore: Autonomedia Bookstore  55 South 11th Street [Map]

Autonomedia J. Paul Burnett/New York Times

The sound of rock bands filters the area while artists smoke cigarettes in front of what was once a loading dock, taking a break from their studios. One artist told me he had been there for decades. The famous figures who have worked in these lofts include Jean-Michel Basquiat and Alan Saret.  Also inside is Autonomedia  bookstore, a publisher of radical media, politics and the arts.

Glasslands Gallery 289 Kent Avenue [Map]

This music venue is known for hosting indie bands ranging from Titus Andronicus to Yuck to Bon Iver. I had the pleasure of performing there myself once and the indescribable art installation floating above you on stage yields trippy photographs for everyone else. Bonus: across the street looms the old Domino sugar factory:

Best Views: 475 Kent Avenue [Map]

 475 Kent Avenue is an artist compound, filled with photographers, artists and filmmakers. These loft apartments have epic views of Manhattan and Brooklyn, but in my opinion the charm really comes from the gritty graffitied interior and the creativity buzzing within. A rickety wooden elevator transports you through the 10 floors of the building and then another set of stairs gets you to the roof. Magnum Agency photographers David Alan Harvey hosts workshops and shows in his space and on the roof.

Where to Drink: The Woods [Map]

This staple is a favorite even amongst the chefs at nearby restaurant Isa, and the number of different social groups that have invited me here attests to the variety of the crowd. Outdoor patio, woodsy interior, and a small dance floor guarantees a good time.

What to Eat: Dressler [Map]

Dressler (Noah Kalin)

A  natural outgrowth of the dining concept that Colin Devlin successfully implemented at DuMont, Dressler reaches a bit higher than its sister restaurant with a more extensive and complex menu and beverage program. Executive Chef Polo Dobkin’s menu has received a Michelin star for five consecutive years. Accented by intricate metal work from Brooklyn Navy Yard artisan sculptors, the interior was carefully crafted from a completely raw space into one of the city’s most stunning dining rooms.

Hollywood Glam: Steiner Studios  [Map]

If you walk further south along Kent Avenue to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, you’ll come across the largest American film and television studio outside of Hollywood–Steiner Studios. Films like The Adjustment Bureau, Burn After Reading, Revolutionary Road, Spiderman 3 and Sex and the City were filmed inside.

The charm of this area is walking around, taking in the contrasts, and wondering if stuff like this graffiti corner building will stick around. Make it up to Broadway and Marcy Avenue, and you’ll see the intersection of Hispanic, Hasidic and Hipster, and where you can still get $1.50 Vitamin Water (while watching Mexican soap operas). I’m so attached to this area, I hope it doesn’t change much but that’s probably a pipe dream.