All you need to know about DUMBO's tech sector
The Wakefield Guide: DUMBO Startups
Before DUMBO became the epicenter of the NYC tech boom, the Brooklyn neighborhood was largely the domain of artists, attracted by the cheap, big loft spaces and the otherwise-vanished sense of “old New York”.
Today, most of the urban grit is gone – hell, a massive antique carousel has been assembled on the waterfront – but those sprawling spaces and stunning views remain.
And with the recent sale of five warehouses that once housed the Jehovah’s Witnesses HQ, opening up 1.2 million square feet of retail and office space (they’re calling it Dumbo Heights), the area is about to experience a second renaissance of sorts.
So what better time to make yourself an expert in all things under the Manhattan Bridge overpass? We’ve assembled the best places to eat, drink, and work, in the neighborhood to get you started.
Please note this is a living document, like the Constitution. If you want to make a suggestion, make a correction, or amend your startup, coffeeshop, or coworking space to the list, get in touch.
Explore the neighborhood
A Little History
It’s all thanks to the cardboard box. In 1890 the Scottish emigrant Robert Gair invented the paperboard folding carton on 55 Washington Street (now the home of Etsy), and began transforming the area into a manufacturing district. Brillo pads, heavy machinery, and cardboard boxes were all made in the area, known variously as Olympia, Fulton Landing, and Gairville.
When New York City went all Midnight Cowboy in the 60s and 70s, rapid deindustrialization left many of the area’s massive warehouses and factories abandoned. Then-Mayor John Lindsay’s solution was the Artists-in-Residence program, allowed “Certified Artists” to live and work on the top floors of many of the buildings for next to nothing.
In 1978, as developers eyed the neighborhood, a group of local artists decided to call the region DUMBO (though DANYA, District Around the Navy Yard Annex, was also a contender). “Who, after all, would spend a million dollars for a loft in a place called DUMBO?” co-namer Crane Davis mused.
A lot of people, it turns out. Today, the median sale price of a DUMBO apartment is $1.5 million.
Where to Meet
Be it over a slice, a burrito, a glass of wine or a coffee, there are options aplenty for meeting with friends and colleagues in DUMBO. Let’s take a look at some of the neighborhood’s most popular spots.
5 Front Street
Nestled right next to the Brooklyn Bridge, Gran Electrica's authentic Mexican fare is a neighborhood favorite. Come summertime, the outdoor patio is a must.
126 Front Street
Superfine serves seasonal, organic dishes and boasts a great happy hour on weeknights along with a southwestern live music brunch on Sundays.
19 Old Fulton Street
There may be nobody New Yorkers trust more with pizza than Patsy Grimaldi, and he and his wife Carol returned to location of the original Grimaldi's to open Juliana's. The signature pie? Margherita, of course.
111 Front Street
An authentic Italian sit-down dinner favorite, AlMar Dumbo also offers affordable lunch options, primarily paninis and salads.
15 Main Street
Yes, Atrium DUMBO is in an atrium (and in Dumbo). Gorgeous interior design aside, Atrium DUMBO offers high end, fresh cuisine.
73 Jay Street
You can't miss Pedro's – its graffiti art adorned exterior is a sight to behold. Inside, you'll find classic Mexican fare and drinks strong enough to make you see some colors of your own.
108 Jay Street
You'll find sandwiches and pizza at Dumbo Kitchen, but their catering and event space offerings make this the go-to choice for large parties.
104 Front Street
The Park Slope mainstay has opened up another spot by the bridge. The bagels are naturally La Bagel Delight's calling card, but their hot lunch specials keep the place packed well after lox time.
68 Jay Street
At least they won't be hard to find. 68 Jay Street Bar attracts the post-work bunch with a 4 to 7 happy hour, and hosts live music performances on Saturdays.
54 Jay Street
Pining for a Pinot Noir? Olympia Wine Bar beckons fine wine enthusiasts and other imbibers alike looking for cozy environs, as they serve beers and cocktails as well.
66 Water Street
Who says a bar with the game on is a bar where your eating options end at chicken wings? The Bridges bridges the gap between culinary heft and sports bar entertainment.
85 Water Street
You'll find Dumbo's best baguettes at Almondine – and the rest of their baked goods are nothing to sneeze at, either.
66 Water Street
Sweet toothed readers, beware. The original Jacques Torres location is in Dumbo, and, as always, the hot chocolate beckons.
33 Main Street
Having recently celebrated three years in Dumbo, One Girl Cookies offers mouth watering cupcakes, cakes, and – unbelievably – cookies.
25 Jay Street
Right in the heart of the Jay Street corridor, Brooklyn Roasting Company's specialty coffee, open space, productivity-friendly music, and wifi make it well worth the trip.
50 Washington Street
West Elm Market's best known for its furniture and home décor, but it also just might be the Dumbo's preferred coffee resource.
What to Know
DUMBO is hardly the real estate bargain it once was – in fact rents are among the highest in the city. But that doesn’t mean it’s out of reach – there are a wealth of opportunities to work, and play, in the hood.
Where to Work
The bulk of DUMBO’s startup and tech scene is concentrated in just a few former warehouses along Jay Street, Main Street, and Water Street, though with the imminent arrival of DUMBO Heights, all of that’s about to change. For now, have a look at some of the neighborhood’s biggest startups.
20 Jay Street
45 Main Street
68 Jay Street
155 Water Street
10 Jay Street