Living in Kensington

Bursting with ethnic diversity, this predominantly residential 1920s-era neighborhood has a mix of art deco apartment buildings, row houses and detached single-family Victorians. Located just below Windsor Terrace, straddling McDonald and Ocean Avenues, and very close to Prospect Park and Greenwood Cemetery, Kensington offers a taste of a non-gentrified Brooklyn.

Housing

One-family houses, when they come on the market, sell for $650,000 to $750,000. Two-families, more plentiful in the neighborhood, cost $750,000 to $900,000. One-bedroom condominiums can be had for as little as $150,000, up to $300,000, and two-bedrooms for more than $400,000.

For rentals, one-bedroom apartments hovered at or below $1,500 a month, and two-bedrooms ranged from $1,200 to $2,400 a month. Good rental deals can be found -- many owners of two- and three-family houses rent out units adjacent to their own living spaces and like to look for tenants with whom they are compatible.

People

Kensington is a very diverse neighborhood. Making their homes in Kensington are Ukrainians, South Asians (Bangladeshi and Pakistani), Chinese, Orthodox Jews, Hasidim, Irish, Polish, Italians, Albanians, Russians, Latinos, Mexicans, and Caribbean Americans. The neighborhood has attracted many middle class families who are leaving more gentrified Brooklyn for Kensington's lower prices and slower pace.

Safety

Kensington is relatively safe, but in certain areas, the crime rates, particularly for assault are still higher than in many other areas in Brooklyn. At night, along Church Ave, the neighborhood is lively, but on the side-streets, the neighborhood gets quiet and empty pretty early.

Parks and Recreation

Most of Kensington is a short walk from the southern tip of Prospect Park. The south end of the park has the Parade Grounds, with its tennis courts and baseball and soccer fields. Prospect Park Lake is also close by. Kensington Stables, just outside the park, offers riding lessons.

Pubs, Clubs and Entertainment

Shenanigans Pub on Caton Ave is a great neighborhood bar. It has an Irish flavor and a basic selection of beer and liquor. Saturday is a fun karaoke night, and there's a lovely outdoor area to sit in when the weather is nice. Denny's Steak Pub, on Beverly Road, is a neighborhood bar that draws a diverse crowd. It is conveniently located right outside a subway station, and has a great 2-for-1 happy hour.

Shopping and Eating

Church Avenue, the main commercial street, has a busy but downscale shopping district. Recently more restaurants have been opening. Smaller shopping districts can be found along Ditmas Avenue and Cortelyou Road. A Food Town supermarket on McDonald Avenue recently expanded, and is well-stocked, clean and affordable.

The restauarant scene in Kensington is growing and reflects the diverse population of the neighborhood. Cafe Tibet, located on Cortelyou Road, The Momos are excellent and the flavors are always sharp and specific, and accented with ginger, garlic and onions. The homemade noodle soups are also delicious. Old Brick Cafe, on Church Ave, offers Eastern European fair, and with the Balkan pop music playing in the background, you feel transported to another world, or at least another country. The burek and the yogurt are particularly worth trying. Kabir's Bakery, on Church Ave, has excellent vegetarian and chicken samosas, sweet chai, and delicious Bengali sweets. Medina restaurants and sweets is frequented by Indian, Pakistani and Bangla cab drivers, and is the real deal in terms of Indian and Pakistani food - spicy, flavorful, and fresh. It's also very cheap.

Dinosha Albanian Village on Church Ave is a preserved fruit lovers' paradise. Sour cherry compote sits alongside rose hips jam and 'grape-pumpkin-eggplant.' Both the usual and the less usual combinations are delicious. Taqueria Los Poblanos, on Church Avenue, has authentic Mexican foods, such as zesty shrimp and pork al pastor tacos are prepared Puebla style. Next door La Flor de Santa Ines sells fixings to make your own. Everything is very affordable. Shayna's serves Trinidadian & Guyanese goodies, including the Peanut Punch, a kind of peanut butter milkshake. The Farm on Adderley, on Cortelyou road, almost in Ditmas Park, is one of Brooklyn's best restaurants. It has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, and uses only local ingredients.

Transportation

The F train runs along McDonald Avenue, stopping at Church, Ditmas and 18th Avenues; the travel time to Midtown is more than 45 minutes, and longer on the weekends, when the F train sometimes skips stops around that area. The Q train through Ditmas Park is a longer walk, but has express service. As far as busses go, the X29 express bus stops on Ocean Parkway at Church Avenue, reaching Wall Street in under 15 minutes and Midtown in a half-hour.

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Good Points

  • affordable housing
  • wonderfully diverse neighborhood and cuisine
  • close to Prospect Park

Bad Points

  • far from more commercial areas of Brooklyn and Manhattan
  • not entirely reliable public transportation
  • no active nightlife

Brooklyn

Manhattan

Living in New York | ©2017 Kirsty Henderson