If you’re looking to live down the street from the offices of some of the country’s most exciting tech start-ups, in a neighborhood paved with cobblestone streets that is hugged by a stunning waterfront with an unobstructed view of Manhattan’s skyscrapers, DUMBO is the ideal home for you.
That is, if you can afford the north Brooklyn enclave’s steep housing prices.
Originally an industrial area packed with factories and warehouses, DUMBO — which stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass — became popular among artists in the 1990s and early 2000s before transitioning into the tech hub that it is today.
Currently, about 80% of the companies based in the area are in the tech and creative industries, according to the DUMBO Improvement District.
According to artist and Community Board 2 member Doreen Gallo, “the neighborhood is much more residential and upscale” than it was when she moved in 20 years ago.
“There’s a lot of very interesting businesses and startups, so it’s vibrant in that way,” Gallo added.
For example, the digital marketing agencies Huge and Big Spaceship, both headquartered at 45 Main St., are among the 700 tech firms currently based in DUMBO. The online marketplace Etsy is also famously housed in the area, at 55 Washington St.
Meanwhile, young families and professionals make up a large portion of DUMBO’s demographic, locals said. Many were lured by the neighborhood’s proximity to the city, being one stop away from Manhattan via the F train.
“We really like that we’re not in Manhattan,” said Sarah Descala, 26, a personal assistant who moved to DUMBO a few months ago. “My boyfriend and I both work in the city. I’m on the Upper East Side, he’s in Midtown, and we just think it’s chaos [in Manhattan].”
The area isn’t necessarily a more affordable option than Manhattan, however.
In 2015, the median recorded sales price in DUMBO was $1,357,500, compared to $965,000 in the whole borough of Manhattan, according to StreetEasy.
The median sales price in Brooklyn as a whole in 2015 was $650,000, according to StreetEasy.
Renting in DUMBO isn’t inexpensive, either.
The median rental price in DUMBO in 2015 was $4,000, compared to $2,500 in Brooklyn and $3,195 in Manhattan.
“Because it’s very unique with its strong industrial overtone, its beautiful waterfront access and it [is] kind of centrally located … it’s a great place to live, and it allows the prices to stay high,” said David Maundrell, executive vice president of new development marketing for Brooklyn and Queens at Citi Habitats, who has lived in DUMBO since 2002.
Despite its amenities, the area has some downsides.
One gripe locals expressed is that the tiny neighborhood lacks dining and nightlife options.
“There are no great restaurants here,” said Ilse Eriksson, the owner and designer at the fashion boutique mel en stel on Front Street. “I don’t know why a lot of people want to move here, you have to go to the city for white tablecloth dining and there’s no nightlife.”
Day-to-day life in DUMBO is often disrupted by film production that closes streets at least twice a week for shooting.
“[Movie] shooting is actually somewhat of a headache, it makes finding parking here difficult,” said Nick Goldfarb, 48, of Flatbush, who owns the DUMBO-based production company Matador Productions.
And tourists flock to explore the waterfront along Brooklyn Bridge Park.
The greenspace stretches 1.3 miles along Brooklyn’s East River edge and has several playgrounds for children, along with a roller skating rink on Pier 2 and the historic Jane’s Carousel.
Melinda Reid, a 45-year-old English teacher who moved to DUMBO almost a year ago with her husband and their two children after living in Manhattan for six years, said she found that the neighborhood offers plenty of fun things to do with her family.
“It’s great having the Brooklyn Bridge Park. We like to bike ride in it and roller skate on Pier 2,” she said. “It’s very pretty here. I like the cobblestone streets and it’s more relaxed here than in Manhattan.”
DUMBO is bordered by the East River to the north; York Street to the west; Hudson Avenue down to Navy Street to the east; and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to the south, according to StreetEasy.