The Curbed Cup, our annual award for the New York City neighborhood of the year, is kicking off with 16 areas vying for the prestigious (fake) trophy. This week we'll have two matchups per day, and all the results and the full tournament bracket will be reviewed on Friday. Voting for each pairing ends 24 hours after it begins. Let the eliminations commence!
On the surface, the neighborhoods that are paired today—Dumbo and Gowanus—have plenty of similarities. Both are in Brooklyn (duh); both were once industrial enclaves; and both have seen rapid development and growth, albeit in different ways and at different times. But which one should move on in the Curbed Cup?
Dumbo's last appearance in the Curbed Cup was 2012, when it made it all the way to the Final Four—and in the three years since, big changes have come to the waterfront neighborhood. Some of the biggest developments were cultural, despite this being the first year without the Dumbo Arts Festival: Two more sections of Brooklyn Bridge Park, a game-changer for the area, opened earlier this year at Main and John Streets; and St. Ann's Warehouse finally moved into its permanent home at the revamped Tobacco Warehouse, which underwent a stunning transformation. Real estate-wise, Dumbo certified its luxury status with the completion of its first pricey townhouses, more fancy buildings going up, and the sale of Brooklyn's most expensive condo, which clocked in at $8.8 million. And work continues on the neighborhood's various bigger projects, including the renovation of Empire Stores and the conversion of the ODA-designed 10 Jay Street to a commercial building.
It may be clustered around a murky, fetid waterway (though that should change in, oh, a decade), but Gowanus continues its rise as both a residential and cultural destination. Lightstone's 700 canal-adjacent apartments are plugging away, with 86 affordable rentals currently up for grabs (through the housing lottery, that is). Nearby, the Sponge Park, a project that will allegedly contribute to the cleanup of the canal (we're guessing through some kind of dark magic), is finally underway. The neighborhood keeps getting new bars and restaurants, with options as diverse as a BBQ bar on the banks of the canal, a pierogi restaurant, and a Korean barbecue-cum-karaoke spot. It even has its own dedicated TED event, as sure a sign that it's attained a hip reputation among the city's creative set as anything.
So which neighborhood should move forward? Only you, dear readers, can make that call—cast your vote below.