Williamsburg is known both for its dense collection of artists, galleries, cafes, fashion boutiques, restaurants and nightlife as well as an eclectic residential population that blends multi-generational Polish, Italian, German, Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Hasidic enclaves with young trendsetters, hipsters and professionals. It is also known as a thriving hub of indie rock.
The history of Williamsburg stretches back to the 17th century, when the Dutch West India Company purchased the land from Native Americans. Though the entire area was initially called Boswijck, the portion that is now Williamsburg was bought by Richard M. Woodhull and renamed, Williamsburgh, after Woodhull’s surveyor, Col. Jonathan Williams. Woodhull would go on to lead the development of the area into a thriving village of its own. The neighborhood evolved over time, at times an industrial shipbuilding hub and at others a financial powerhouse that rivaled Wall Street. Names like Vanderbilt, Pratt, and Pfizer all passed through. After the opening of the Williamsburg Bridge, the neighborhood became the most densely populated in the city.
Today, the main strip of Williamsburg is Bedford Avenue a mecca of inventive restaurants, bars and funky shops. Surrounding it are low-rise walk-ups and warehouses that have been transformed into chic homes and entertainment loft dwellings. Popular clubs in the area include The Bog, Rubulad, The Lizard’s Tail, Keep Refrigerated, Mighty Robot, Trash, Flux Factory, Quiet Life, Keep Refrigerated, Todd P., Twisted Ones, and Dot Dash. Commercial venues include Pete’s Candy Store, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Union Pool, Galapagos, and The Brick Theater.
Famous Williamsburg landmarks include The Kings County Savings Institution, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, The Williamsburg Houses, Brooklyn’s first public housing done on a large scale, and the Domino Sugar Refinery Building, which, though it no longer runs, is considered a landmark of the city and so still stands.
Nearby green spaces include Domino Park, Grand Ferry, Bushwick Inlet, and East River State Parks, the latter of which hosts Smorgasbord every Saturday from April-October.
Transportation includes the L, J, M, Z, and G subway lines, the Williamsburg Bridge, and bus routes such as B24, B39, B43, B44, B46, B48, B59, B60, B61, and Q54.