Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: In what ways might Brooklyn be cooler than Manhattan? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread.
Brooklyn has superior zoning.
Manhattan is over-stuffed with commercial real estate, much of it completely vacant.
According to a recent report in Crain’s, commercial vacancy rates for Class A buildings exceeds 10% and is above 16% for Class B buildings in 2011 in lower Manhattan alone (the most appealing area for office space in the city). Vacancy rates are even higher in other sections of the borough, including Midtown.
Brooklyn has a better mix of commercial and residential real estate, with few giant towers. This creates a more human scale for communities. Businesses can afford to serve smaller quantities of customers thanks to lower rents and a better spread of residential density. The smaller customer bases that they serve enable superior niche targeting, which develops greater customer satisfaction.
In Manhattan, commercial rents and the broad customer base make it so that if you open a coffee shop, you will probably fail unless you’re Starbucks. In Brooklyn, you can run a neat indie coffee shop and employ a cute barista with a nose stud and tattoos and still turn a profit.
Brooklyn also tends to be more youthful, at least in certain neighborhoods. Manhattan rents are too expensive for all but the children of the elite or mid-career professionals to live in. Young creative workers can only afford to take career risks if they live in the outer boroughs or in less expensive areas of Manhattan.
Manhattan could be cooler than Brooklyn one day if the city abolished zoning laws, allowing currently useless commercial real estate to be re-developed, increasing the supply of residential real estate.
Brooklyn has a slower pace of life than Manhattan. Part of being cool is not giving a fuck. Everyone in Manhattan must focus on making a great deal of money in order to avoid eviction.
Brooklyn is also more multi-cultural. There’s more cross-culture friction = than elsewhere in the city. Manhattan is gradually experiencing brown, yellow, and black flight from encroaching white yuppies, even in traditional strongholds like Chinatown. The same process is happening in areas of Brooklyn – especially downtown, now – but the population density and lower access to public transportation has retarded the process.
Note this race map from Gothamist.
Most of the fashionable areas of Manhattan are pure white, while in contrast, Brooklyn is rather miscegenated – which is cooler.