It starts with one person, they move into a forgotten neighborhood, or an area that has been neglected (lots of broken windows). A new beginning; an often cheaper and more creative space for an artist or individual that doesn’t want to be part of the yuppie lifestyle, at least not officially. Fast forward - others follow and before you know it the crime, dark alleys and graffiti is no longer a reason to stay away, but rather a community of cool. A place for the anti-establishment and counterculture to come together as a community, drink coffee, ironically enjoy Pabst beer and grow very bushy beards. This is now a hipster neighborhood.
The window of cool for hipster neighborhoods is one that begins to shut as soon as it's opened. First, the actual broken windows are fixed. Then the art galleries, organic coffee shops and authentic Mexican restaurants and taco trucks (hipsters love their tacos) appear. After this it's not long before it's THE place to be. Eventually people slightly older with more money move in, they bring expensive beer (three times the cost of Pabst!), condominiums and the kiss of death - Starbucks. Just when you think the dream is over you find a neighborhood two miles west where there are even more broken windows. Hipster neighborhoods are always moving; it’s the circle of hipster life.
Many of the neighborhoods listed are known, but the true hipsters are already moving on. They are moving into Hunters Point (San Francisco) and Red Hook (Brooklyn) where they can honestly say they live in a building that’s a converted chemical plant. These are now the true hipster neighborhoods.
This is what happens; the youth find new places to be cool, the once cool stay behind. Just because you wear a T-shirt that reads GREAT ARTISTS STEAL (meant ironically, of course) doesn’t mean you are not also growing older each minute. On a positive note, your beard is also growing each minute.
To make the list neighborhoods need to have been or are on their way to being an established neighborhood. Sure, there is always that guy who moves out in the middle of nowhere and insists it's cool, but if no one joins because they don’t want a 45 minute walk to the G train then this guy is not living in a hipster neighborhood, he's just alone.
Honorable mentions include Canal St Martin in Paris, France and Shimokitazawa in Tokyo, Japan. Both exhibit neighborhoods of relaxation despite their chaotic locations inside major metropolises. Also, Canadian cool hipster neighborhoods The Plateau (Montreal) and Queen Street (Toronto) may have gotten a little too rich for some, but they keep the tradition of clubs, vintage clothing and culture alive.
Here are the 8 most hipster neighborhoods in the world today.
8 Malasana (Madrid, Spain)
During the day Malasana is an intellectual adventure of book stores and thrift shops where if you’re lucky you can find that super skinny black pant that matches your glasses. At night this area turns into the “cool area” as locals and tourists spill out of restaurants and bars into crooked streets. Lots of flannel, tattoos and craft beer houses disguised as dive bars can all be found in abundance. Its countercultural feel feeds the “cool” bars and cafes, and it’s Madrid, so you can drink everywhere.
Fact: Everything is so much better and more hip when alcohol is involved. (Note: Not fact.)
To really get the Spanish hipster vibe check out La Bicicleta, a café with bicycles on the walls and tattooed baristas waiting to serve you espressos. Gorila is the classic “café by day – bar by night” you see a lot of here. It’s really the best of both worlds and every male working here has a beard (seriously, all of them.)
Fabrica Maravillas is a microbrewery that serves Malasana Ale and Russian stout beers. This is just the right place to get your craft beer fix and crack open a book for a nice distraction from the tourists in white sneakers. I visited Madrid once and one late night found us in a local bar with the owners and a couple of friends. They decided to close the joint and invite us in for an all night party and we did just that. Smart decision? Probably not, but we did not get murdered. That’s pretty cool.
7 Pearl District (Portland, Oregon, US)
For Portland, specifically the Pearl District, it’s their time. Like Seattle in the nineties, people are flocking to Portland - not for the music, but for the strange. Surrounded by galleries and studios, this area for years has brought artists and musicians into the neighborhood. For the young at heart there are top, award-winning breweries, bookstores (including the world famous Powell’s City of Books), record stores and lots of parks. What used to be a lot of warehouses have been converted into massive loft residences where locals furnish their spacious digs with strange pieces from weird antique stores that line the streets. If that isn’t enough, here’s the kicker – Pearl District has a ton of coffee shops. Spend a day getting drunk on beer, buy some records and pick up some coffee. You can stay up all night and then do it all over again the next day.
6 Kreuzberg (Berlin, Germany)
Berlin in general is pretty hipster or rebel or insane depending how you view such things. Kreuzberg is the epicenter of this behavior. The food is diverse and there are several “cool” bars (including the infamous S026 punk club) in the neighborhood. There is of course coffee and street art everywhere you look. This was once a ruin, located on the border of East and West Berlin, but now attracts those who want to kick back and look forward. Bonus for the nickname X-Berg, that’s pretty bad-ass as far as neighborhood nicknames go, especially when already have “punk rock cred.”
5 Shoreditch (London, UK)
You know those English dudes that always look like rock stars who just got out of bed? They live in Shoreditch, along with their model girlfriends. Shoreditch still is the place for artists, small shops and bars, and those skuzzy looking rock stars. Yes, it is changing. Now the businesses are “trying” to be hipster versus their authentic predecessors. Eventually this happens to all neighborhoods at some point. The good news is that the core of the neighborhood is fighting back, keeping the counterculture values that have kept this community so unique for so long. The breweries may be getting bigger, but look at Brew Dog (born in Shoreditch) and Camden Brewery, keeping the local tradition alive, albeit in a more "corporate" package. The business is growing up with the neighborhood and Shoreditch is a grown-up hipster neighborhood that wants to stay organic, but also have nice things, replacing loft workspaces with luxury apartments and local eateries with more international options. Shoreditch is also home to an e-cigarette coffee shop, so there’s that. For those that thumb their nose to these types of establishments, they have moved on to Dalston and Peckham, the new UK hipster neighborhoods. Eventually, these neighborhoods will change too.
4 Florentin (Tel Aviv, Israel)
This is another established hipster hangout. Made up of old converted warehouses, this neighborhood is no secret, attracting the hip from all around the world. Florentin is old-school cool, complete with prostitute streets and cops hassling the street artists. What makes this hip community unique is their commitment to local businesses. This is why there are so many bakery and pastry shops thriving in Florentin. Also, lots of cool girls choose to live here; many own dogs and have “modeling” on their resumes. Unfortunately, Florentin is a prime example of the reverse “There Goes The Neighborhood” as they watch Big Business come in and begin building skyscrapers. Eventually the creative will be priced out and forced to find a new neighborhood, bringing the graffiti, bakeries and models with them.
3 Sodermalm (Stockholm, Sweden)
Home to vintage shopping and cozy bars, Sodermalm (known as Soder to the locals) is where to live if you dream of Brooklyn, but are stuck in Sweden. No joke, in between shopping and browsing the indie bookstores you can enjoy a bottle of beer from Brooklyn Brewery (as you discuss the connection between 21st century government and Star Wars) and then step out and enjoy the great wooden architecture of the surrounding houses. For the more upscale hipster, don’t worry there are also boutiques and fashion houses in the hood, not everything is used, I mean vintage!
2 Mission District (San Francisco, CA, US)
The Mission District neighborhood is unique in that it incorporates its hippie roots with the new hipster movement. This is an old neighborhood, not a newly transitioned warehouse ghetto. The ironic sense of entitlement is there, but it’s a more laid back version. For a city known for art and entertainment you will find “The Mission” has the highest concentration of these establishments. Lots of diverse restaurants, bars, and of course, coffee shops line the streets under the murals painted on the sides of buildings. Via graffiti and just choice of paint, you will feel trapped in a box of Crayola Crayons, surrounded by colors of the rainbow (or an array of Chuck Taylors). What’s great is how the twenty-something hipsters mix with the homeless and aging artists. Everyone getting along, most of the time. It’s never brought up, but this may be the actual birthplace of hipsters versus…
1 Williamsburg (Brooklyn, New York, US)
Some think Williamsburg is the birthplace of hipster neighborhoods which of course we know isn’t true; however, it may be the first place to make people say it. The basics of what is “required” to be hipster ‘hood is all here: coffee shops, organic farmer markets, beards, a variety of food trucks and of course creative, anti-establishment residents. Before you say it, yes, Williamsburg has gone through a change the past few years. Mixed in with founding hipsters, you now find finance guys looking for a bargain (not finding it), those looking for an alternative to Manhattan and other cities (tourist hipsters) and even tattooed moms pushing their strollers. Actually, there are now lots of strollers in Williamsburg. This neighborhood is too attractive, hence the rising real estate and cost of living (more than many areas of Manhattan now). This may be pushing some artists out, but the flavor and spirit is still very strong, trying hard to keep Big Business out and embrace locality, alternate living and organic lifestyles. Remember, this is the place that continues to make us think mustaches are not just for cops and construction contractors in Ohio. When hipsters in Williamsburg pick a trend it becomes a movement.