Two cities go under the microscope Monday to find an answer to a burning question of identity: is Hamilton actually Canada’s answer to Brooklyn?
It’s all part of an Ambitious City event hosted by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce that explores the cultural identity and economic heartbeat between the two.
Considering resurgent Brooklyn has been on an upswing for years and is often considered one of the coolest places in America, Hamilton and its chamber would be positively giddy at that comparison bearing fruit.
But can you really compare Hamilton to a bustling metropolis of 2.6 million people?
Let’s try it out.
Industry downfall and finding an identity
Once part of the industrial heart of the U.S., manufacturing in Brooklyn dropped by about half from the 50s to the 90s.
Things were gloomy for quite a while, until neighbourhoods like Williamsburg and Bushwick sprang back to life starting in the late 90s – mostly fuelled by artistic types fleeing high rents in Manhattan.
There is a caveat here, though. Brooklyn’s revival started much earlier than Hamilton’s, so they are way further along in the process. If Hamilton is really lucky, the city could be where Brooklyn is now in about a decade.
Do they have LRT?
Public transit in Brooklyn destroys Hamilton. Full stop.
Sure, LRT is coming, and that will radically change how people get around in Hamilton. For some, it’s a beacon of modern transit that will haul Hamilton into the future (or at least to the present).
But the New York subway system is one of the best in the world. Daily ridership numbers are in the millions – meanwhile in Hamilton, we’re still waiting for HSR to get on Twitter. (But at least we got Presto on buses before Toronto did!) Edge: Brooklyn.
Is Manhattan Brooklyn’s Toronto?
Hamilton’s Toronto complex is so deeply ingrained that “Argos suck!” could be a Balsam Avenue baby’s first words.
There’s a definite rift between Brooklyn and Manhattan, too – and a deluge of people have moved out of there because they can’t afford rent.
Take this “luxury” Manhattan two-bedroom, listed at a startling $5,895:
You aren’t living in Manhattan these days without a heavy cash flow. There’s some definite disdain in Brooklyn for its high-priced neighbour. Edge: Tie, different scales but clear parallel.
So if Brooklyn is a haven for young people and artists fleeing the rest of New York City, are the rents comparable to Hamilton?
Yes and no. A two-bedroom in trendy Williamsburg can run you over $4,000, which is a rarity on local equivalents like James Street North or Locke Street. Keep in mind that New York is one of the most expensive cities in the world, behind only places like London and Monaco.
In some more far-flung neighborhoods and artist enclaves, you can share a two-bedroom for maybe $1,400. That makes it a steal by New York standards and an analogue to Hamilton compared to Toronto’s higher rents. Edge: Hamilton
But can I get a decent cup of coffee?
You can tell a lot about a place by its coffee – and as the birthplace of Tim Hortons, Hamilton has a special claim to the fuel that keeps Canada going at hockey rinks on weekends at 6 a.m. There is also a burgeoning coffee culture in many areas for those who like their brew a little more upscale.
In Hamilton, a cup off coffee will run you around $2 to $3 on average. In Brooklyn, you can get a coffee cart cup for a buck, or go to Blue Bottle Roasters and shell out $10 for a cup. Edge: Brooklyn, but only because of the carts.
Do they have any famous musicians?
Musicians: Brooklyn has Busta Rhymes, Jay-Z, The Notorious B.I.G. and Peter Criss. Hamilton has Teenage Head, Daniel Lanois, Arkells and Tom Wilson. Tough call – but nobody likes Peter Criss, so edge: Hamilton.
Their bridge vs. our bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most iconic bridges on earth. A guy drove a dump truck into the Skyway one time. Edge: Brooklyn.
Are there any famous Brooklyn comedians?
Brooklyn has Jerry Seinfield, Hamilton has Martin Short. That’s gold Jerry, gold! Edge: Brooklyn.
Their teams, our teams
The Ticats are deeply entrenched in Hamilton’s soul, and the now-OHL Bulldogs are keeping hockey alive in the city. Brooklyn has two major franchises: the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and the NHL’s New York Islanders but both are fairly new to the city. It’s been a long time since the Brooklyn Dodgers. Edge: Hamilton (because we’re worried Angelo Mosca will come after us otherwise).
What about parks?
Hamilton’s most famous park is probably Gage Park (it’s more “park-ish” than Gore Park, which is still arguably the heart of the city). Brooklyn has the iconic prospect park, which was built by the same designers as Central Park. Edge: Brooklyn.
Their view, our view.
We love our escarpment, our waterfalls. The views from Sam Lawrence Park or the Dundas Peak are sweet. Their view however, is sunset of the Manhattan skyline. Edge Brooklyn.