I moved to New York from Lisbon in 2014 after being appointed the first curator of architecture at the Met. This is my 10-year anniversary. I wanted to find something with a direct line to the Upper East Side and stumbled upon Fort Greene, a tree-lined oasis between Clinton Hill and Downtown Brooklyn. It was a World Cup year, all the bars and pubs were full and I loved how walkable it was. I’ve been here ever since.

Beatrice Galilee at Bar Laika in Clinton Hill
Beatrice Galilee at Bar Laika in Clinton Hill © Meghan Marin

Fort Greene enjoys a creative independence that comes from its proximity to Manhattan, but is also a little bit removed. A lot of creatives are drawn to the area, many of whom – Jing Liu and Florian Idenburg of design firm SO-IL among them – have been key to building The World Around, the non-profit I started in 2019 with a mission to amplify new voices in architecture. This year we will continue our partnership with Fondation Cartier, with which we work on initiatives including our annual summit, which is being held in the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed auditorium at the Guggenheim next week.

The Primary Essentials homeware store selling home goods and decor
The Primary Essentials homeware store selling home goods and decor © Jonathan Hökklo
Galilee at Bar Laika
Galilee at Bar Laika © Meghan Marin

And there’s a lot of design gravitas in and around the area. The Brooklyn Museum, which was founded in 1897, seven years after the Met, was designed by the architects McKim, Mead & White, who also designed one of the Met’s stair halls. Classic brownstones abound. The most interesting thing is how spaces like Brooklyn Navy Yard and the Barclays Center have become focal points for movements such as Black Lives Matter. There’s an artwork by Tavares Strachan outside one entrance of the Barclays Center that reads “We Belong Here”; “You Belong Here” above another. The Center has become a real convener of people.  

BAM [Brooklyn Academy of Music] is another cultural anchor, showing everything from opera and Shakespeare plays to amazing contemporary theatre. Spike Lee is based in Fort Greene and he hosts an annual block party where people dress up like Prince for a day. Sometimes people think of NY as this tough place. But there are so many lovely pockets and connections you can make.

Galilee outside Hungry Ghost Coffee
Galilee outside Hungry Ghost Coffee © Meghan Marin

I joke that one of the big draws of the area is the Target, where Beyoncé is rumoured to shop. We’re also close to plenty of cool design stores – The Primary Essentials is a go-to for artisanal home goods – and coffee shops like IXV, which is working towards zero waste. I also like Head Sounds Records, which sells cheap second-hand vinyl and is just a fun place to hang out – as is E-flux Screening Room and Bar Laika over in Clinton Hill. They publish a global arts newsletter, to which I implore all to subscribe!  

Gentleman’s Relish and toast at Sailor, Dekalb Avenue
Gentleman’s Relish and toast at Sailor, Dekalb Avenue © Eric Medsker
Bar Laika also hosts arts events and film screenings
Bar Laika also hosts arts events and film screenings © Meghan Marin
Galilee looking out of Bar Laika
Galilee looking out of Bar Laika © Meghan Marin

The quality of food in New York is excellent but on Dekalb Avenue you’ll find some of the best, including Sailor, a new bistro by April Bloomfeld. It’s almost impossible to get a table, but recently I succeeded and celebrated with poached radishes and mussels on toast. When friends visit, I’ll take them to Walter’s for fried chicken and waffles and then, at the back of the restaurant, to Karasu, a Japanese speakeasy, for Martinis and jalapeño-infused sake. 

Galilee in Fort Greene Park
Galilee in Fort Greene Park © Meghan Marin

On the subject of Martinis, Gage & Tollner in Downtown Brooklyn is my favourite place to go. It’s a classic, one of the oldest restaurants in Brooklyn, and although it doesn’t look like much from outside, inside there’s a huge bar surrounded by mirrored walls. Also not to be missed is “the world’s best cheesecake” at Junior’s, served super-size with a layer of strawberry glaze on top. 

One of the most special places to me is Fort Greene Park, another central hub and the place where many ideas for The World Around were born. I’ve been lucky to live in lots of different places for my work, but New York, and Fort Greene in particular, feels so supportive – of hope, ambition. I met the love of my life and some of my best friends here. There’s a constant sense of possibility, even if you’re just passing through.  

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