Bordering the nearby neighborhoods of Clinton Hill and Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant, commonly referred to as Bed-Stuy, is a Brooklyn neighborhood filled with hidden history, inviting travelers to enjoy a meal at local cafes, feel inspired by local activists, and discover murals hidden in plain sight.
We’ll let you in on a few secrets about five neighborhood spots so you can travel like a local as you’re walking through Bed-Stuy.
King of New York Mural
At the intersection of Bedford and Quincy in Bed-Stuy, you’ll find the King of New York mural of Biggie Smalls. It resembles a famous photo of the rapper that graces the cover of Rap Pages magazine in 1997 and has become a Bed-Stuy landmark, honoring one of the neighborhood's most respected artists.
Cafe Erzulie (894 Broadway, Brooklyn) is a Haitian-American coffee shop and bar in Bed-Stuy, and you’ll recognize the cafe by its vibrant colors. Its outdoor facade is painted a striking cobalt blue and inside are pastel pinks and aquas, colors loved by the Haitian goddess Erzulie, whom the cafe is named after. Whether you want to grab a cup of coffee or enjoy a musical performance, Cafe Erzulie is a lovely local spot with an incredible atmosphere.
Charlie’s Calypso City
Walk by 1273 Fulton St, and calypso music, a genre of music derived from Trinidadian folk songs, will be sure to draw you in. Charlie’s Calypso City is a Bed-Stuy staple owned by Rawlston Charles and has been a neighborhood favorite since 1972.
Grand United Order of the Tents
At 87 MacDonough Street, you’ll find a pale villa style home built in 1863, which has an interesting story behind it. The United Order of the Tents, which used to occupy this building, has been called many things -- a secret society, a charity, a lodge.
The Tents was founded in 1867 in Norfolk, Virginia as part of the Underground Railroad. They aimed to be a “tent of salvation” for the Black community, providing care services and raising money for medical treatment and burials. The society would continue to grow through the leadership and stewardship of Black women to provide services for the community. After the Civil War, it was officially recognized, and it was in the mid 1940s when the organization’s strength grew and they moved here to Brooklyn, where they have remained a small and secretive organization.
Hattie Carthan Community Garden
The Hattie Carthan Community Garden (654A Lafayette Ave) is a community-based space to grow fresh fruits and vegetables, depending on the time of the year.
It was once an abandoned lot and before that, a school. It was in 1991 that it officially became a community garden with fresh crops, food security workshops, and other educational events. The garden is named in memory of Bed-Stuy resident, Hattie Carthan, a Black environmental educator and activist who founded and participated in several community green initiatives.
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