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The Great Westchester vs. Brooklyn Debate

Who's hipper? More, importantly, who's happier? Patch adds to the debate between moms of perhaps not-so-different worlds.

As I continually meet moms in my village – and yes I can say now that I live in a village – who, like me, once wore their Brooklyn pride on their Brooklyn Industries hoodies but made their way here by way of baby, the topic of Westchester vs. Brooklyn always arises.

Not in a oh-we’re-so-superior-here kind of way but in a somewhat sheepish whisper in front of Main Street’s toy store, “Do you miss it?”

Hell no!, I want to shout.

I thought I’d be the last one to bail on Brooklyn. I made fun of the families who did. (To this day, I still pay monthly bills for a 718 number for my nostalgia.)

But three years ago I hightailed it to Westchester, which was never even in my urban lexicon.

Westchester? Isn’t that where Kennedys and Clintons, Martha Stewart, and some zero-chemistry man I once dated (who only ever took me to the China Hut that offered free white “wine” by the pitcher) lived?

That’s about all I knew. That and that I went to college with tons of kids Ivy League-groomed from Scarsdale…

So, to counter the Brooklyn blog titled: “Why We’re Staying Put,” I’ll retort with “Why I Left.”

And, since I’m in debate mode, I’ll even counter the pro-Westchester side in this smackdown (the Wee Westchester blog who started this whole back-and-forth), and say adamantly that this Brooklyn mama did NOT move to the suburbs.

Unlike Wee Westchester’s world, I still do have to worry about alternate side parking and I don’t have a driveway. My neighbors are a few feet away from my house on both sides, and my yard is decidedly Brooklyn-tenement-sized. I do lock my doors and, truth be told, someone might pee in my flowers.

I may have moved out of the city, but I didn’t move to the Truman Show.

I moved here to Sleepy Hollow because it is a little funky, a little urban, and in a lot of ways resembles my life in Brooklyn.

I still walk everywhere, I do not shop in strip malls.

We have diversity, we have culture, and better than Brooklyn: we OWN Halloween.

I’m interested in found, not fine, arts and attracted to rusty metal trashcans and oily sheens on manhole covers, but in the end, I found myself yearning for more….green. Ultimately I think when you have kids you find yourself gravitating to a place that resembles the place where you grew up. For me that’s memories of endless days spent playing outside with no parents for miles. (Not possible now anywhere).

Our apartment in the city featured quite a treacherous trek to any nearby patch of unbuilt land, which was a trampled yellow-brown plot at best.

We were worried, in our “edgy” neighborhood nestled amidst projects, that our child’s first word would be some kind of curse.

My village of Sleepy Hollow is, to my eyes at least, gorgeous. I gave birth to my second girl in Phelps Hospital with a sunset view of the Hudson River and when my husband needed a break, he took a riverwalk through spectacular Rockwood Hall.

We gather chicken eggs at Stone Barns where even Michelle Obama likes to go free range once in a while. We have a lighthouse. A park for every kid’s taste. Lakes. Rockefellers on horses.

Which is not to say we’re all rich here. In fact, we landed here because we couldn’t afford to find a place to buy in Brooklyn, yet miraculously here we are secretly infiltrating affluent Westchester!

My husband’s train commute to the city, where he works in Midtown, brings him to Grand Central like clockwork, in a trip far faster and more scenic than his former commute from Brooklyn. (Admittedly, more expensive!)

A few of my favorite things: I have a bridge view and the Bridge View.

I was a small business owner in my former life and I did achieve in NYC what people rarely can: a real sense of community, a place where people really knew my name (and I knew theirs) and a place where I felt I made a difference.

However, my landlord did not care about my silly idea of community.

After my five year lease was up and all my blood was spilt into wine glasses in this labor of love-hate called “Stain Bar arts lounge”, he pulled the rug out. Or should I say, dropped those tin ceilings back into their fluorescent lit paneled glory in about two seconds.

When I returned to visit “Moe’s Deli” I realized a hard truth of city-living and -leaving. No matter how much you think you’ve made your mark there, the second you’re gone, the city reabsorbs any space you ever took up. Like you never existed. Perhaps Brooklyn is a cat. You may love Brooklyn but the best it can give back is indifference.

Brooklyn blogger ends with:

“We’ve got 36,000 residents packed into every square mile: How can that many people be wrong?”

Ugh. She really ruins her argument right there. Does 36,000 residents packed into every square mile really sound appealing to anyone? Seriously? I feel the bed bugs crawling just thinking about it.

If that kind of density is really attractive to people, then why whenever we return to the old borough of Kings, to visit, on weekends, do our friends-with-babies always gather around us like starved birds pecking for information on the real estate market up the Hudson East Metro-North line?

They all want to know how we got here, and can they get out too.

Hasn’t anyone noticed this is a one-way migration trend?

Science shows (or it should) that density that like can only be attractive to single people. Brooklyn families move to Westchester but not the other way around.

Pro-Westcheter blogger admits we’re not hip here, and proud of it. I don’t know, hip is as weird as the quest for cool in high school, so maybe she's right. Should the question be not who's hipper, but who's happier?

Park Slope Patch, what say you?

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Sheri Silver February 15, 2013 at 01:06 AM
Great piece Krista! As a 20-year Irvington resident - but Brooklyn born/raised/schooled - I pine for "cool" Brooklyn much of the time. But I know that the pitfalls of actually living there would not suit me after all these years in the burbs. Loved your take on this!
Vishal Brown February 15, 2013 at 07:21 PM
Nice read...
joy February 15, 2013 at 09:08 PM
Good read
Krista Madsen (Editor) February 18, 2013 at 09:44 PM
Thanks everyone! And here's further reading from the NYTimes: Creating Hipsturbia... http://goo.gl/vb2aU

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