A mix of old and new, Brooklyn’s architecture is evocative of the borough’s history and where Brooklyn is headed. A handful of structures are even recognizable around the country and world, due to their prominence on postcards and in film or TV shoots. Here are our top ten recommendations for towers, buildings and monuments you should try to see on a visit to Brooklyn.
The name of this arch, dedicated to Union soldiers’ efforts and sacrifices during the Civil War, is not well-known. But the triumphal monument, sculpted by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux and unveiled in 1892, is one of Brooklyn’s most recognizable structures. Grand Army Plaza, its host site, is worth exploring a bit. The iconic central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, built in the Art Deco style, is in the plaza. And the beautiful Beaux Arts-style Brooklyn Museum is a short walk away.
Build in 1848, this Greek Revival masterpiece served as City Hall until Brooklyn was annexed by New York City in 1898. The stately structure, designed by architects Calvin Pollard and Gamaliel King, was designated a city landmark in 1966. You may recognize it from the opening credits of Welcome Back, Kotter. Borough Hall is less than 10 minutes’ walk from NU Hotel.
A group of fired-up preservationists saved this terra cotta-covered Beaux Arts beauty from destruction 48 hours before it was scheduled to be demolished in 1964. Four years later, the Boathouse was designated a city landmark. The boathouse in Prospect Park is especially nice on a sunny summer day, but attractive all year long.
Standing 512 feet above ground, The Williamsburgh Savings Bank was Brooklyn’s tallest building from 1927 until 2009. The Art Deco building is still one of the most prominent, and iconic, structures in the Brooklyn skyline. When you’re in town, keep your eyes peeled for its memorable clocktower. The Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower is a 15-minute walk from NU Hotel.
This Coney Island attraction, affectionately dubbed the “Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn,” was built in 1939 for the World’s Fair in Queens. Originally an amusement ride sponsored by Life Savers candy, the ride stopped operating in 1968.
This impressive Italianate mansion, built in 1857, predates Prospect Park. After buying the land from the Litchfields in 1868, the city decided to leave the villa standing. Its exterior still impresses visitors to the park on a daily basis.
This DUMBO warehouse, constructed in the 1870s as an inspection center for tobacco, now houses upmarket restaurants, retailers, and St. Ann’s Warehouse Theater. The attractive brick warehouse sits between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges along Brooklyn Bridge Park, a mile from NU Hotel.
First built in 1699, the Old Stone House was originally a Dutch farmhouse used by a community of around 300. In 1776, it was the site of the Battle of Brooklyn, the largest military fight of the American Revolutionary War. The Colonial-style reconstruction built after the war today houses a museum that exhibits the American Revolution and colonial life in Brooklyn.
The newest structure on this list, Barclays Center is a LEED Silver certified building known for its sculptural steel-and-glass facade. The arena, home of the Brooklyn Nets and New York Islanders, hosts sporting events, concerts and other widely-viewed events.
Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill are home to a handful of carriage houses, which housed horses used for transport in the pre-automobile era. The carriage houses on Grace Court Alley, now deluxe renovated homes, are especially striking. They’re a 15-minute walk from NU Hotel.
*This list includes structures contained entirely within Brooklyn, and thus no bridges. The most iconic structure with a foot in Brooklyn territory is undoubtedly the Brooklyn Bridge. The Manhattan, Williamsburg, and Verrazano-Narrows bridges are also impressive feats of engineering and fascinating architectural marvels we recommend checking out.