Brooklyn Takes On Westchester!33

Posted by Deirdre // 01-29-2013


The gloves are off! Ok, not really. But there was a hint of sparring in two recent posts on where is the better place to live. And I couldn’t help but throw my hat in the ring, to some extent.

It started with a post on Wee Westchester (a blog started by – yep, you got it – former city moms) Westchester vs. Brooklyn that took Brooklyn on directly:

While Brooklyn may be home to many of the city’s best restaurants (very jealous of that!), Westchester is actually the better place to raise kids. Listen up, Brooklyn friends. After this, you may want to consider leaving Stroller City forever.” Oh no she didn’t!

So Lexi, one of the two new editors of A Child Grows fought back with Brooklyn vs. Westchester, Why We’re Staying Put!:

Even if you never rode the subway to Manhattan (which happens to be a worthy, kid-pleasing pursuit on its own), you still probably couldn’t try every Brooklyn-based activity before your child gets to high school. In the last few months I’ve heard about a Grammy-nominated Broadway actor teaching a music class for babies, four-year-olds studying Pollock and Picasso at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and Twyla Tharp mentoring teenage dancers at a local ballet company.

It’s pretty much the classic city vs suburbs argument, which we ALL know has points on both sides (hello, one of the points of this blog). I guess these moms moved from Brooklyn, but to call it out feels a bit like a chip on the shoulder kind of thing. And left me feeling very much in need of defending Brooklyn, even with all my complaints logged in various posts.

An ad for

An ad for

On that note, I need to take on one point they make – that they don’t live there because it’s cool. Um, yeah we got that. I’d have to say that’s one of the reasons so many of us are scared shitless of going there. Personally, I’d rather see a bunch of hipster dads at the playground like the one at left who is making fun of the whole thing but at the same time hasn’t given up his (or his kid’s) sense of style, than an army Stepford husbands all dressed in khakis and golf shirts. Phew. That felt good. Oh, and the founder of the blog from the ad at left? He lives in San Diego. Hipsterism may be alive and well in Brooklyn, but it exists elsewhere too (although not likely at the Starbucks in Rye).

So…what’s your take?



17 Responses

  1. March 24th, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    […] so frigging cliché at this point. The handlebar mustache dude slinging artisinal pickles, or the dad in the fedora – ridiculous and yet whatever, anywhere you are. What if the guy just really loved pickles […]

  2. iheartbrklyn says:
    February 1st, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Thought I would share my friendly rebuttal to Wee Westchester as guest blogger on Brooklyn to the Burbs! Ok, with a little Brooklyn attitude thrown in. Wink, wink.

    • Deirdre says:
      February 1st, 2013 at 11:57 am

      I love it! I agree with you that the part that got me the most was the “it’s better” part. There is simply no where that’s “better” for everyone, unless a Nirvana exists that I’m not aware of. And I’m not sure they’ll make good lattes there.

      Thanks for sharing.

  3. January 30th, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    […] that I’ve had some time to breathe, read a few good comments and reflect on yesterday’s post about Westchester vs Brooklyn, I feel the need for an addendum. It’s a great discussion – […]

  4. Lexi says:
    January 29th, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    Oh and I forgot to mention–Kim and Nicole are the new owners of Child Grows, but I am thrilled to be contributing! I’ve known them both for a long time and I’m excited to see where they take the site.

  5. Lexi says:
    January 29th, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    This is Lexi who wrote the story…Thanks so much for continuing the conversation, Deirdre! I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog. I’m cracking up at all the comments posted (Peter Pan syndrome!) and absolutely agree that being a dud or being cool is about so much more than geography. I do love that New York City gives my kids a chance to witness people pushing boundaries in all different kinds of ways, whether it’s through fashion, socially, politically, etc. For me it’s not the fedora or skinny jeans that make someone a hipster (at least in a derogatory way) but rather the hipper-than-thou attitude. Anyway, it was a fun story to write and of course there’s no one right answer for everyone. If it encourages people to reflect on what they want from their living situation, or inspires conversation between them and their partner (like it did with me and my husband during the writing process), I’ll be satisfied.

    • Deirdre says:
      January 30th, 2013 at 1:06 pm

      Thanks Lexi. Yeah, it has been a great – if heated and a little misguided (my fault) – discussion. It’s important to consider lots of things when you’re looking for a place to be, and many of us are looking for something more we’re just not sure of what that is and what we really need to keep. And I think those things are different for everyone.
      Thanks again for opening up the discussion and for letting me know about Wee Westchester – people here will be psyched to have it as a resource!

  6. Elizabeth Leach says:
    January 29th, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Hey, everyone. I’m one of the gals from Wee Westchester. We love Brooklyn. I wanted to live in Brooklyn but my husband didn’t like the commute and we couldn’t afford a nice place. I’m sure a lot of parents in the burbs wonder what life would be like if they still lived in the city or Brooklyn. I bet parents in Brooklyn wonder about the burbs. If our writer sounded a little bitter it was only out of wistful wonderings of a cooler, more urban lifestyle. Also, we just wanted to open up a conversation. My husband wears khakis but he’s the coolest guy I know!

    • Deirdre says:
      January 30th, 2013 at 1:04 pm

      Thanks so much for responding, Elizabeth. I think I came off as – slightly – aggressive myself. Or as my husband said, bitchy! I do have an issue with the “Westchester is better” because as we’re all discussing it comes down to priorities, and they’re all individual and personal. I think it’s a great discussion (obviously!) and one we all wrestle with constantly. If Brooklyn were perfect, I wouldn’t have started this blog!

      The more we all talk and share what we like and what we don’t about where we live the better off we’ll all be and maybe find that place that meets *most* of our criteria for where to dig in for good.

      I’m looking forward to following your blog and sharing it here!

  7. Claire says:
    January 29th, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    We left Brooklyn for westchester ( not rye, but that doesn’t matter) because we couldn’t afford to buy a place in any of the neighborhoods we would want to live in. My husband has plenty of “tats” and never wears khakis….I get the discussion… but from someone who has lived in Cleveland to Burlington VT to Boston to Ghana to Lithuania to Brooklyn the argument gets tiring. I don’t miss lugging my kid on the subway. I do miss the restaurants. I don’t miss sitting in traffic whenever we wanted to leave the city. I love being able to hike multiple trails within 15 minutes of my house. I don’t miss paying someone else to rent their apartment. And I love that my kids will grow up learning how to garden.

    I don’t think that our decision to buy a house in westchester is right for everyone. But I do get tired of having to prove that I’m still “cool” or to overly justify our decision.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the blog and appreciate the discussion but it’s not just about being cool or not. There are a ton of non-khaki wearing towns in Westchester. The fact is, it was more affordable for us to buy a house in upper westchester than stay in Brooklyn. We have land, a lake and views of the mountains and the Hudson for less than our rent in Brooklyn.

    But again…this was the best decision for us…not everyone.

    • Deirdre says:
      January 29th, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      I hear you Claire and get the reasons you moved and agree that everyone has their own reasons and needs for choosing where they live. I mean even within my own neighborhood people make choices that are totally personal to live where they live – either a small apartment to have an outdoor space or to be in a specific zone or to allow one of the parents to stay home or whatever it may be. We all have our own priorities.

      I think the “cool” discussion is annoying inherently and hits a nerve – obviously the mention of it in the original post on Wee Westchester hit one of mine, as though we only live in Brooklyn because it’s cool. Again, cool is relative (that sounds ridiculous!). You certainly don’t have anything to prove or justify and your husband especially doesn’t if he has tattoos (kidding!). Land and a lake and views of the mountains sounds pretty nice.

    • January 30th, 2013 at 7:21 pm

      What town did you move to? I’m interested in finding commutable towns that have lots of nature but still a bit of a Brooklyn vibe. It’s hard to strike the right balance…

  8. jason savage says:
    January 29th, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    it’s true, i judge hipster Dads ruthlessly. i am way guilty of that. and i am already bracing for playground season on 9th st. it’s Peter Pan syndrome run amok.

  9. Deirdre says:
    January 29th, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Ha, Jason – I knew I’d get you with this one! You have to admit that you judge guys in skinny jeans just as much as I’m judging guys in khakis. But, what you’re saying is absolutely true. It’s not what you wear – or where you live – that determines cool factor. And cool factor is a different thing to everyone anyway. Like you said, cool does not necessarily equal interesting. That was kind of my point and the issue I took with their whole “fedora” comment. Would I chuckle if I saw a guy wearing a fedora to drop his kids off at Kindergarten on 7th Avenue? Probably. Does that mean he’s a douche? Maybe. Maybe not. One of the things I like about Brooklyn is that you see all kinds of dads – and moms – and there is less of that mix in many suburbs as far as I can tell. Here there are hipsters and khakis and everything in between. All of either side is not somewhere I necessarily want to be.

  10. jaime says:
    January 29th, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Yeah but you were so much cooler in Cobble Hill, Jason.

  11. jason savage says:
    January 29th, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    whoops……somehow deleted my own comment. had a boring rant on here, the point of which was I think this whole debate has become binary and that’s too bad. i know hilarious, interesting people in the burbs and absolute dullards in Park Slope. and vice versa, of course. there are Stepfords everywhere, they just wear different uniforms. Or, as Ronnie famously said in “Cant’ Buy Me Love”….

    “Cools, nerds, your side, my side. Man, it’s all bullshit. It’s Just tough enough to be yourself.”

  12. jason savage says:
    January 29th, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    like so many things in our culture, this debate has been reduced to being binary, and I think there’s so much more nuance and individuality in both scenarios. if you dress in khakis are you not cool? and if you have arm tats are you brimming with cool? of course not. they’re both different versions of people conforming to their surroundings. but all that matters is what a person is like as a parent, or co-worker or son/daughter/sibling. my older brother lives in Rye (and that is a pretty darn good Starbucks) and is one of the coolest guys I’ve ever known, not because he eats a new restaurants but because he’s hilarious and self-effacing and loyal and…..well, he’s what cool is when you’re a Dad, in my definition. i know people who live in Brooklyn who are deathly dull. And I know a guy who lives in New Canaan, CT who has the most incisive wit and fantastic music tastes this side of the Mississippi. So, I guess it just kinda depends on who you are, not how you dress or where you eat. that just one (khaki wearing, occasionally golf shirt wearing, Park Slope residing) Dad’s take.