The Democratic Party is pondering locations for the 2016 Convention, including Brooklyn, New York. Why would any political party want to hold a convention in Brooklyn? I can give you millions of reasons, starting with its famous sons and daughters, from Jimmy Durante to Mel Brooks to Jackie Gleason, from W.H. Auden to Norman Mailer to Arthur Miller, from George Gershwin to Lena Horne to Barbra Streisand, from Winston Churchill’s mother to Shirley Chisholm to Elizabeth Holtzman to Ruth Bader Ginsberg, from Sandy Koufax to Vince Lombardi to Michael Jordan, from Isaac Asimov to Carl Sagan. It’s a constellation of luminaries, a who’s who of America’s history and heritage, not to mention so many of your relations and friends that it often seems as if everyone is from Brooklyn.
But the real focus is on tomorrow, because Brooklyn is tomorrow: The world’s best and brightest are flocking to the promised land of Brooklyn. Better yet, they’re at the forefront of this Borough’s renaissance in education, business, architecture, technology, entrepreneurship, creative and performing arts, culture, and my personal favorite, food.
Put aside Brooklyn’s stature as the capital of strength, swagger, and cool for a moment. If you want to know why people are pouring in to neighborhoods such as Red Hook, Williamsburg, Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, and Brooklyn Heights, just ask our student graduation speaker, who called her alma mater the best (and only) law school “in the biggest and most vibrant borough, in the greatest city, in the leading state of the most wonderful country on the planet.”
To be sure, there’s weight behind the hyperbole. Within eyeshot of Lady Liberty, Brooklyn is known justifiably as the borough of immigrants, the borough of churches, meaning the home of religious freedom and expression of all denominations and faiths. It’s the site of the first great battle of the American Revolution, where the 1st Maryland Regiment sacrificed itself so that Washington’s Army could fight another day. It’s where Walt Whitman, Booker T. Washington, and Henry Ward Beecher campaigned for abolition of slavery and full emancipation. It’s where America made everything from the ships that brought victory in the world wars to the watches and clocks that keep track of modern times. Today it’s a groundswell of palpable, buzzing energy, a marketplace of ideas and a hub for innovation, the very picture of American determination and grit.
By all practical measures, top marks should be given to Brooklyn as the convention venue for 2016. Beyond its infrastructural riches – major airports and railways, 24 subway lines, easy-to-navigate streets, an endless supply of taxis – the Borough boasts the gleaming new Barclay’s Center, which is already ranked the nation’s No. 1 revenue-generating arena. In fact, only the O2 and Manchester arenas in England stand in its way from becoming the world’s top venue. As for other world-class attractions, entertainment, dining, and accommodations, Brooklyn offers an unrivaled cornucopia of riches. (That nearby island across the river which has hosted successful conventions of both parties is no slouch either.)
Could any other location be better for a political convention than Brooklyn? Fuhgeddaboutit.
Nicholas W. Allard is the Joseph Crea Dean and professor of law at Brooklyn Law School.