You probably won’t be able to find out about the construction project on your block or fate of a shuttered restaurant in the mainstream press. That sort of information is more likely to be on the website of a neighborhood news site.
Community-centric news sites deliver hyper-local, real-time information, filling a void for news about what matters most, where it matters most—your very own stomping ground.
This is nowhere more true than in New York City, which is made up of distinct neighborhoods. Coping with life in the big city boils down to making sense of your own 20-something-block environs (think subway shutdowns and restaurant closings, crime upticks, and school issues). Of course it also means staying up to date on local real estate news, so you know what’s going on in terms of new condo or rental buildings going up in your neighborhood.
This year, we’ve done away with calling this list Brick Underground’s best blogs and made a few changes accordingly. After all, while some still call themselves blogs, these are sites are reporting the news, not merely repurposing other writers' work. As Brklyner’s publisher Liena Zagare puts it, “We are all true local journalists. Blogs are so 2007.”
Read on for Brick Underground’s round up of the best NYC neighborhood news sites.
Ever since 2008, Bowery Boogie has served up its own brand of hard-hitting news coverage with a helping of keen wit for residents of the Lower East Side, Chinatown, Little Italy, and Two Bridges. According to the website, “a good portion of our stories comes from readers. Welcome to the family.”
The succinct posts pack the essentials into a few graphs. You can browse sections on real estate, transportation, crime, music, art, TV/film, fashion, photos, and history, or search by street. For example: “Trashed Pizza Plates Repurposed for Super-Sized Scrabble Game on Orchard Street.”
You can also see what your neighbors are concerned about by clicking on the More tab and seeing the top-ranked subjects, which in July included Community Board 3, real estate transactions, and gentrification, with graffiti and Essex Crossing close runners up.
More recently the blog has been leveraging its reputation in the LES by selling Bowery Boogie merch on Threadless, its online store. There you can purchase T-shirts and hoodies for adults and kids, throw pillows and fleece blankets, framed prints, and even phone cases. Their most popular product? A tote with the Manhattan Bridge. Pride of place indeed.
All things Alphabet City, EV Grieve started back in 2007 as a way to mourn the closing of a local haunt (that ended up remaining open)—hence the name. The site struck a chord with other East Villagers and has been a constant presence ever since, “appreciating what’s here while it’s still here. Remembering what’s no longer here. Wishing some things weren’t here that are here.” Other areas of Manhattan may share this same sense of loss, yet it seems the East Village has undergone a dramatic transformation (though a few Brooklyn hoods give it a run for the money).
After publishing the site anonymously for some eight years, John Elasser finally came clean in a letter from the editor in 2015 at the bequest of a journalist. Not that he was hiding from anything; rather he didn’t want to get in the way of the site being “a blog about the neighborhood, for the neighborhood.”
That spirit still pervades the site, with reporting on Mount Sinai’s new East Village location along with news about restaurant closings and community board meetings.
Should you ever fall behind and out of step, you can check out The Week in Greview, which links to the big stories of the day.
First and foremost a blog about the current housing market in Harlem writ large, Harlem + Bespoke provides real estate listings but also covers restaurants, retail, events, and other happenings—all through a designer’s lens. The focus is on the many brownstones and townhomes (some historical landmarks), putting a spotlight on the architectural flourishes that help define this uptown destination.
Besides Central, East, West, and South Harlem, the site’s purview includes 125th Street, Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights, Morningside Heights, Manhattanville, Sugar Hill, Mount Morris Park. Not familiar with all these distinct areas? Check out the illustrative neighborhood maps.
A Renovations tab links you to helpful tips and sources, such as a local painting service and showroom for marble and stone. The release of the Landmarks Preservation Commission latest Rowhouse Manual offered guidance for proper restoration projects.
Recent posts in the main feed included news that a landmark townhouse in Sugar Hill had closed for $3.45 million (“priced on the lower end for this block”), an announcement that Tommy Hilfiger will present his 2019 fall line at The Apollo, and the date and time of the Re-envisioning Lasker Pool Community Update Meeting.
Another LES blog, The Lo-Down is run by Traven Rice (a filmmaker) and Ed Litvak (TV producer), who founded the site in 2009 “from the conviction that the Lower East Side needed a fiercely independent, professionally produced news publication to call its own. Every day since that time, we have dedicated ourselves to providing top quality reporting to inform and engage our diverse community.”
Indeed, The Lo-Down is one of six pilot sites partnering with the Democracy Fund’s Local News Lab, which is committed to supporting the sustainability of local news by exploring collaborations between journalists, newsrooms, and communities.
Here you’ll find an exhaustive list of links to other sites with news relating to the LES, updated daily, as well as its own reporting on such items as the opening of Diller restaurant by local favorite The Pickle Guys, who had been pushed out of their Essex Street location back in 2017; the launch of a rooftop garden at Essex Crossing run by Project EATS; and the opening of the affordable housing lottery for seniors at 140 Essex Street. (Yes, the mega-development Essex Crossing looms large in this neighborhood.)
You can sign up for the The Morning Lo-Down newsletter for free or help support the site by becoming a Sustaining Member (for as little as $5 to gain access to the quarterly member newsletter or as much as $100, which includes the newsletter plus a mug and an invitation to the site’s annual party).
For many New Yorkers (and out-of-towners), Roosevelt Island is a quick turn-around stop on its iconic tramway—and is shrouded in myth and mystery. For its 14,000-plus residents, described on the site as a “mixed income, racially diverse waterfront community,” RI is a livable place with a rich history and a nuanced present.
This hyper-local guide is designed to promote engagement and provide a forum for discussion. There’s a calendar of local events (knitting, toddler story time, and a chance to meet Senator José Serrano were on one week’s docket), plus plenty of sponsored events. A feature called “Hey, Susan!” allowed people to pose questions to, and get answers from, Susan Rosenthal, president of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC).
The late-breaking news on a certain July day centered on the mayor’s announcement of CitiBike’s expansion to more NYC neighborhoods, and how the RIOC needed to cough up funding for a docking station for RI to be included. Tips on staying safe during a sweltering heat wave were also offered, making Roosevelt Islander more than just a news feed.
Run by Pam Frederick, a journalist and former community activist who bought the site in January 2019 (it was founded in 2009), Tribeca Citizen is designed to “get to the bottom of things, ask questions, solve problems, and keep people in the know.”
The comprehensive site reports on business openings, closings, development, schools, local people, goings on about town and also distills coverage about Tribeca and surrounding areas such as Battery Park City and Fidi.
Besides real estate listings and developments, you can zero in on schools, parks, arts and culture, restaurants and bars, and even crime, among other home-page links.
A recent sampling of posts include stories about luxury residential sales in the area, a controversial mercury cleanup effort at 250 Water St. (parents held a protest), and an announcement that Chief, the women’s club on Hudson Street, is going national.
To stay up to date, you can subscribe to the twice-weekly newsletter—and show your support by buying (and wearing) a T-shirt with the TC logo.
The Uptown Collective, founded by Led Black, has been “preaching the Uptown Gospel on a daily basis since Feb 2010.”
Indeed, the mission of the Collective is to not only document but help shape the “rebirth” of Washington Heights, Inwood, and Harlem through its online portal as well as a weekly subscription newsletter and column in The Manhattan Times.
In addition to culling news from other sources, The Collective offers plenty of editorializing on the matters of the day, from deportation and ICE raids (prompting a tweet from local hero Lin-Manuel Miranda) to the opening of Fort Washington Public House and a new comedy put on by the Up Theater Company.
Thanks to the team behind the site, comprised of activists, writers, actors, and other creative types, you glean a real sense of the personality of the communities. This is a blog with a distinct POV.
This targeted site is a bit of a departure from the others included here in that it was born out of the desire by its founder, Cathryn Swan, to chronicle the famous park’s controversial redesign back in 2008.
Since then, it has widened its scope to cover other aspects of the park (and her concern with the privatization of other green spaces in NYC) as well as the greater Greenwich Village neighborhood. However, the blog still bears its original reportorial, well-researched bent. Plus, Swan is a devotee of all things WSP, and has even compiled some of the blog’s essays into an ebook.
Recent posts centered on the 50-year honoring of the Stonewall Riots and PRIDE 2019 Parade that took place in the park. The site also encouraged followers to attend the upcoming Community Board meeting that was slated to discuss “quality of life” issues at the park.
The Rag promises to be all things to all its involved denizens on the Upper West Side, providing weekly events, real estate listings, school news, and notable retail and restaurant openings and closings.
As the name implies, the blog doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s a “Pupper West Side” column where anyone can share a story and cute pic of their pooch. This is after all dog central, with more dog parks than any other area of NYC.
More eccentricities can be discovered by clicking on the “Absurdity” tab (tellingly, it is the first one on the dashboard). There you might come across a post about city-sanctioned goat-grazing in Riverside Park and a photo of a “parking scofflaw” who avoided the steep fine by simply leaving the booted-tire behind.
Quirkiness aside, you’ll find useful information to help you navigate the neighborhood and beyond, with updates on subway shutdowns, street closings (“Mrs. Maisel” and other shows are frequent disruptors), and bike path detours.
Bklyner is a one-stop resource, a result of the 2017 consolidation of formerly independent sites Bensonhurst Bean, Ditmas Park Corner, Fort Greene Focus, KensingtonBK, Park Slope Stoop, Sheepshead Bites, South Slope News, and Sunset Park Voice. Publisher and editor Liena Zagare was born in Latvia and settled in Flatbush in 2005, and has been involved in community-building through these sites ever since.
You can still filter the news by specific neighborhood if that’s your druthers; otherwise the main news feed will keep you updated on local politics, crime, real estate, arts and entertainment, and the usual openings and closings.
The articles pack a lot of information in several short paragraphs, striking a nice balance between clarity and conciseness, with cut-to-the-punch headlines such as “Local Pols Discuss ICE Threats in Sunset Park” and “Are You Responsible for Sidewalk Repairs? Know Your Rights!”
Be forewarned. If you spend too long on the site at any one time, you will be greeted by a pop-up window asking you to become a subscriber for $15 a month or a one-time $150 annual fee. Posting an event on the calendar, however, is free.
Anyone feeling priced out of this borough will appreciate commiserating, virtually speaking, with other money-strapped denizens on this irreverent, tongue-in-cheek blog, with “living big on small change” as its tag line.
Brokelyn was founded in 2009 as a post-crash survival guide by Faye Penn, who is executive editor of InStyle magazine (and whose cheapest secret is the lamb gyro dinner for $6 at Gyro King on Newkirk Plaza).
Alas, as of October 2017, you can no longer buy Brokelyn’s popular Beer Books, which provided passports for 30 beers in 30 bars for the low price of $30, via the site. It also seems the Gigs tab is not being updated, though it once included tips on local casting calls.
It’s worth visiting the blog every Friday for its weekly round-ups of the “cheapest things to do this weekend.”
Ever since its launch in 2009, Bushwick Daily has been reporting on the hyper-local scene five days a week. Current editor-in-chief (and Russian-born) Irina Groushevaia aims to create an inclusive publication, and it shows. The polished site broadcasts the local population’s diversity through photo-centric posts covering the gamut of goings on in and around the neighborhood, organized by regular columns.
Those include News (NURTUREArts closes after 22 years), Business (“queer kitchen” brings together the LGBTQ community), Food and Drink (Evil Twin Brewing’s new Ridgewood beer garden), Community (stand-up comedy benefit to raise funds and awareness for cyclist safety), and Mind and Body (a diverse, inclusive, body-positive yoga studio in Dumbo).
Arts and culture seems to be the site’s raison d’etre, perhaps because there is just so much to report on in this fertile ground. The quality articles tend to delve into the topic and reflect the POV of the poster, whose profile pic is part of the byline (something no other blogs covered here provide).
Safe to say, founding editor Robert Lanham, who created Free Williamsburg way back in 1998, was ahead of his time in reporting on the then-budding arts scene here. The design-forward blog has been a mainstay of the neighborhood ever since, seeing it through its many iterations and expanding coverage into nearby Greenpoint and Bushwick. (These are also the same folks behind The Hipster Handbook.)
Locals and visitors alike can find timely news relating to food, drink, and entertainment, such as the opening of a Japanese cafe in Greenpoint by Sunday in Brooklyn, and the annual Giglio Festival, “the ONLY thing that has not changed in the neighborhood in the past decade.” Plus the site provides popular guides worth checking out, including The Best Bars to Drink Outside in North Brooklyn.
There’s also a “weekly metal roundup” with reviews of “must-hear” bands, an events calendar with editor’s picks, and local apartment listings. If you want to know what’s happening in this sliver of Brooklyn, turn here first.
Any blog staff that purports to “meet at different locations in Greenpoint to discuss coverage, ideas and to drink beer” is not taking itself too seriously. Exhibit A: “Spotted: McCarren Hawk Enjoys Rodent Picnic.”
That said, Greenpointers is not afraid to take on critical issues, including strained efforts by union workers at Key Food locations to get a new contract, or the chronically late mail delivery in Williamsburg under the headline “[Assemblyman] Lentol on Williamsburg Postal Problems: ‘You Can’t Live Like That.’”
This is the source for all the cultural events (they are numerous) and restaurant updates (ditto) along with helpful guidance about street pavings and public forums on the Greenpoint Library.
Any “best of” blog list would be remiss if it didn’t mention Carroll Gardens–based Pardon Me For Asking. The name may be quaint but the site has real reporting chops. Founder Katia Kelly unearthed evidence of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s alleged money laundering, including having borrowed several million dollars against a dilapidated home here.
The site typically goes on hiatus for the summer while Kelly spends time in Europe (you can see photos of her travels). Check back in the fall when she will (hopefully) resume poking around in the murkier side of life here, such as the controversial Gowanus rezoning plans and the revisioning of Carroll Gardens at the forefront.
Clarkson FlatBed—or just Q, as he refers to himself in the third person—is the personality behind this blog, which features “news and nonsense” from what is apparently a neighborhood with multiple monikers, including Lefferts, Lefferts Gardens, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, and North Flatbush. “Or if you’re coming from the airport in a taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.”
The same sense of humor pervades the posts, though it’s not all smiles over substance. Q was downright sincere in his reporting of a street being named for Dr. Lamuel Stanislaus in honor of his work as a dentist and activist in the local Caribbean community, especially getting the West Indian Day Parade off the ground. He is also fluent in local politics, so much so that he can spout off about State Senator Zell Myrie and Assemblyperson Diana Richardson (he seems to approve of both), rent regulations, and Community Board 9.
For a glimpse of his usual banter, however, check out this excerpt that came under the headline PLG Arts: Stuff-a-plenty in June: “Wish I wasn't so busy at work...I could say something cute or annoying about all these great events. But you know what? Screw that. Support these fun thangs [sic] and check out the poster for the PLG Music Festival. You heard right.”
With twice-weekly updates (“usually on Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday”) plus occasional updates, LIC Talk also solicits comments anytime. Based on a few visits, the onslaught of pricey condos and other developments predominates the news.
That said, a few esoteric posts shed light on LIC resident’s concerns—including what appears to be an ongoing debate over where LIC ends and Astoria begins. What’s at stake? Bragging rights to certain establishments (such as Lokanta) that lie on the murky border.
QNS.com serves up a robust mix of news including politics, crime, business, and real estate. The site features a no-nonsense design but it’s not all seriousness: A reporter delved into the mystery of an In-N-Out burger (a brand found on the West Coast) that turned up in pristine condition along Sutphin Boulevard in Jamaica, sparking salivary glands around NYC. Another post looked at the Queens DA election recount. And there’s lots of real estate news here, with stories on new developments, a security deposit scam artist, and a tenants’ class action lawsuit against a landlord.
The site was acquired last year, along with about 20 mostly print publications, when Schneps Communications bought NYC Community Media and Community News Group.
Run by veteran journalist Christian Murray, Queens Post is an independent media company that publishes seven sites in Queens: the Astoria Post, the Forest Hills Post, the Flushing Post, the Jackson Heights Post, the LIC Post. the Ridgewood Post, and the Sunnyside Post. It also publishes one in northern Brooklyn (the Greenpoint Post).
Picture hard-hitting news about local politics, crime, education, small business, and real estate with an objective, reportorial voice. Depending on the day, you’ll learn how Astorians can weigh in on Con Ed’s proposed rate hike, what libraries will remain open during the blistering heat wave, and the date and time of an open casting call to audition for American Idol in Greenpoint.
As a cultural melting pot with many authentic cuisines and a super-quick commute to Manhattan, Astoria is where it’s at in Queens. This unabashedly pro-Astoria blog keeps its denizens up to date on new eateries and shops, real estate listings, developments, and other timely tidbits—including the completion of a dog park as part of the $1 million restoration of the Triborough Bridge Playground and a rumor that Robert De Niro is converting the Steinway factory lot into film studios.
Restaurants, of course, take center stage, with “cheap eats” listings and openings and closings, including of beloved Vaccaro’s Bakery & Café, which may or may not re-open in another location (stay tuned!).
There’s also an events calendar and a “Deals and Specials” tab, though all the deals had expired at the time of this post. Want to flaunt your Queens pride? Click on the link to Lockwood, where you can purchase Queens (and Brooklyn) memorabilia; the shop’s owner happens to be one of WeHeartAstoria’s editors.
Welcome2TheBronx, founded by Ed Garcia Conde, brings you a multifaceted perspective on the city’s northernmost borough, including reporting on a multitude of arts and culture programming. Take, for instance, a slew of articles describing efforts by BAAD! (The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance) to empower the LGBTQ community, the opening of a new art gallery by Mos Def, and how NYC’s oldest Latino record store, Casa Amedeo, was recently honored by the Landmark Commission.
Real estate news straddles application instructions for affordable housing and the continued influx of development for luxury high rises. Searching by neighborhood yields recent happenings plus archival photos and backstories for historical context.
But general news is what drives the site. The long-awaited expansion of CitiBike into the area, and the introduction of a bill (“finally!”) that will look into the feasibility of building a subway line connecting the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn, were just two headlines of note.
Here’s another site that shines a light on an often underappreciated part of NYC. As the blog explains: “Our mission is to improve the image of Staten Island to help change it from the Forgotten Borough to the Can’t Forget Borough.”
Indeed, a spin around the site will provide you with a week’s worth of events and activities—many for free, including Met Opera recitals, a roving outdoor sunset concert series featuring local talent, and Movies Under the Stars. Trail running, canoeing, kids’ cooking classes, and art studios let you get in on the action. There is certainly enough incentive to consider making SI your home base—or to stay for a while before taking the ferry back to Manhattan.
Ever since December 2014, Downtown Post NYC has been a reliable resource for the area’s residents. You can sign up for the free weekly newsletter, though links to previous posts are available on the site—and the website is updated daily with what editor Terese Loeb Kreuzer describes as “urgent messages, breaking news, and reminders of interesting events in and around Lower Manhattan.”
Besides letters from and to the editor, each newsletter does a deep dive into a matter of import (the 2019 census, for example). The Bits and Bytes section culls relevant headlines from other sources; the Downtown Bulletin Board covers hyper-local news such as affordable housing lotteries, community board resignations, free summer meals for kids, and changes in bus connection service and ferry schedules. Calendar events are also highlighted.
Having gained traction for its relentless reporting on the seemingly endless construction of the Second Avenue subway, 2nd Ave. Sagas has now become the go-to resource for all things public transit in NYC. You can track the ongoing (and oddly entertaining) face-off between the MTA and Governor Cuomo, read an in-depth analysis of the “much-ballyhooed” MTA $4 million Transportation Plan, and learn the ins and outs of OMNY, the tap-and-go payment system that will render good old MetroCards obsolete.
If “there goes the neighborhood” is a common refrain for you, you’ll find a kindred spirit in Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, “a bitterly nostalgic look at a city in the process of going extinct.”
Having published a book by the same name in the summer 2018, the author is not updating the blog so much anymore. Still, Jeremiah Moss’s personal lamentations on the loss of the “real” New York is worth checking out for its archival posts (dating back to 2007) as well as the occasional new ones, including how longtime favorite Book Culture on the Upper West Side is being priced out of its four locations, and how Show World, one of the last vestiges of adult entertainment in Times Square, is being demolished to make way for Hive, an $80 million office building. Woe are us all.
It seems only fair to include Jersey Digs on this list, since so many New Yorkers eventually decamp to suburban neighborhoods across the Hudson River. The blog covers arts and news, and also showcases real estate eye candy, perfect for luring vulnerable New Yorkers who love the city but would really love a backyard. (A mid-century contemporary in Montclair next to a nature preserve is pretty appealing.)
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