On a warm September afternoon, Roebling Street is quiet. Summer is stretching its last moments before autumn takes over and the people who are out to enjoy it calmly stroll along. Located in the heart of north Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the street has witnessed all of the recent changes in the neighborhood that have been widely and publicly discussed. Worries about rising rents and gentrification, however, are notably absent in the everyday life of the area. On a small block between North 4th and 5th Streets, the residents seem pleased. “I’ve lived on this block for a couple of years and I really love it here”, 29-year-old Aimee Hunt says. The block, with its orange bricks and little shops, is typical for the neighborhood – comfortable but exciting at the same time. A short train ride from Manhattan and a few blocks’ distance from the hustle of Bedford Avenue are enough to create a homely but metropolitan atmosphere that so many of the new New Yorkers have learned to love. Roebling Street is a prime example of what Williamsburg is today – a constantly growing neighborhood that attracts young movers but is not free of problems. “You can definitely see how everything around here has evolved”, Aimee Hunt says, “but not everything has changed.”
For years, residents and passers-by have been getting their coffee fix from Oslo, the café situated on the same block as Hunt’s apartment. In 2003 a couple that had recently moved into the area decided to start their own coffee shop and due to heritage named it after the Norwegian capital. Oslo blossomed with the neighborhood and is now widely considered one of the best coffee establishments in the city. This kind of local entrepreneurship is appreciated and encouraged in Brooklyn, where the residents pride themselves in being part of a community seemingly more than in Manhattan.
Recent rumors about Whole Foods opening a store location in Williamsburg have caused uproar from the locals, who could more likely be seen carrying as Oslo cup instead of a Starbucks one – not that you could find Starbucks this side of the L train. Some would – and have – called this new wave of so-called hipsters irritating and bad for the neighborhood, while others have applauded them for putting Brooklyn “back on the map”. However you look at it, Roebling Street and the rest of Williamsburg continue to grow. New waves of hipsters will pour from Manhattan, new coffee shops will thrive and even Whole Foods might become a local. Through all this, the orange block of Roebling Street will remain a great spot for an afternoon walk.