Overlooked Neighborhoods: Little-Known Gems in Well-Known Cities
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
You might think you know Buenos Aires, Kiev or Cincinnati. But do you know these hidden ’hoods?
By OZY Editors
When we travel to major cities — Paris, Mumbai, Cape Town, New York City — we tend to visit the known neighborhoods, the places where tourists flock and gather. And sometimes, when we tire of the glitz and the busy streets and pricey food, we’ll venture out past the museums and popular restaurants to discover some lesser-known spaces in the city.
But even beyond that, there are neighborhoods where nary a tourist tends to tread — not because the location is unsafe or unsavory, but because it’s just not on the radar. If you’re not local, you likely don’t know about it. But venture into these places, where generations have built up businesses or historical buildings have been repurposed, and you’ll find a whole new limb of the city.
The best-ever tacos in Mexico City? You’ll find them in Narvarte, a neighborhood just like Roma but without the crowds. A great, cheap place to see independent theater in Buenos Aires? Check out Abasto for an unforgettable evening. The home of Chicago’s famous breaded steak sandwich? You’ll find it in Bridgeport, a proud working-class neighorhood of character and old business signs, which also has art galleries and craft beer.
This original OZY series takes you into the overlooked neighborhoods of some of the well-known cities you thought you knew — or would like to know more about.
First off, you don’t come to ordinary-looking Abasto for an Instagram snap. You come for the spirit. The colorful streets are filled with decades-old Peruvian cafes, hairdressers and small, practical shops. But what it lacks in ostentatious architecture it makes up for in culture: There’s a cooperative art center, an independent theater (with affordable ticket prices) or a craft beer bar practically on every corner. And that’s despite a troubled Argentine economy. Plus, there’s a famous tango connection.
If you’ve been to Chicago to see a White Sox game, you’ve been very close to Bridgeport — but you likely didn’t even know it. The gritty neighborhood is virtually unknown among tourists. But it has a long and storied history dating back to 1673, and was one of the main sites of Chicago’s booming meatpacking industry in the mid-1800s. The infamous breaded steak sandwich was born here. Sure, there are art galleries and craft beer, but alongside Bridgeport’s growth there persists a strong working-class spirit and a historic mom-and-pop retail landscape.
Narvarte, a sprawling central-south residential neighborhood in Mexico City, is likely the best taco district in the Mexican capital. But most people pass right under Narvarte on the metro, missing a quiet, quirky and low-key neighborhood, flocking instead to colonias like Roma. But multicultural Narvarte has all the charm of the film-famous neighborhood without the prices and hordes of tourists. It’s also remarkably unchanged, which, in a city undergoing a tourism boom, makes residential-at-heart Narvarte something of a Mexico City unicorn.
Visitors to Ukraine’s capital are likely to visit Independence Square and the requisite centuries-old churches. But to really get a feel for the city’s modern pulse and forward-looking cosmopolitanism? Go to the neighborhood surrounding Reitarska Street. Sprinkled with Western embassies and some of Kiev’s most beautiful czarist-era buildings, this neighborhood provides a glimpse of Ukraine’s future: increasingly creative, bold and global.
Brevnov, a hilly residential hamlet located a short walk from both Prague Castle and Petrin Tower, has a bustling tree-lined high street with a little cobbled lane of centuries-old houses that looks straight out of a movie set. There’s also lots of beer — it’s the oldest recorded site of brewing in Europe. But this lovely village, practically unknown to tourists, is about so much more than mugs of suds. With gorgeous Art Nouveau buildings, a 1930s apartment block and age-old monuments, there are loads of new eateries, cultural centers and even a skating park.
Street art, record shops, indie radio, skateboarding, vintage clothing and vegan eats … the Little Five Points neighborhood is about as cool as you’ll find in Atlanta. But only Atlantans know about this Bohemian hood named after the site where the city’s first streetcars converged in the 1890s and is the site of one of the earliest major regional shopping centers. It has been described as Atlanta’s version of Haight-Ashbury, a melting pot of sub-cultures with theatre, performance and art on every corner.
Ten years ago, Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine district was labeled the most dangerous neighborhood in America. But now the streets, where intact Italianate architectureand old ghost signs commingle with outdoor cafes and artisan markets, share a different story. That’s thanks to a multimillion-dollar face-lift that’s attracted entrepreneurs, working families and urban-renewal experts drawn to the simmering experimental atmosphere of this once-neglected neighborhood. Check out the revitalized 170-year-old fresh food bazaar or have a pint at one of seven cutting-edge craft breweries here, inspired by the area’s long history of beer production.
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