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Curbed Cup 1st Round: (12) Gowanus vs. (5) Midtown West

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The Curbed Cup, our annual award to the New York City neighborhood of the year, is kicking off with 16 'hoods vying for the prestigious fake trophy. This week we'll have two matchups per day, and all the results and the full tourney bracket will be reviewed on Friday. Voting for each pairing ends in the wee hours the next morning. Let the eliminations commence!

"The changes here are organic," writes one commenter who nominated Gowanus, "not driven by large residential development." Among those changes: the opening of popular neighborhood eateries like The Bell House and Four and Twenty Blackbirds. And the long-awaited Gowanus Whole Foods is coming. Another commenter offers a more, ah, atmospheric view of Gowanus life: "Have you ever sat down at a salvaged 17th century miller's table for a handcrafted nanobrew with a painter who works in religious iconographic deconstruction, a hairdresser who creates cutting edge styles employing repurposed lawnmower blades and the city's leading gluten free chef who works exclusively with cruelty free rooftop to backyard firepit cooking? In Gowanus you have." But does that mean you live in the neighborhood of the year?

The behemoth that is One57 launched sales last week, reminding us that this has been a big year for Midtown West. Tower Verre came back to life, adding to the rumblings in the West 50s. And the 'hood is now the home of NYC's most expensive rental.

Poll results

· All Curbed Cup 2011 coverage [Curbed]