Neighborhood: Central Brooklyn
Population: According to the April 2010 census, 2,504,700 people live in Brooklyn, New York, accounting for just over 30% of NYC’s total population.
Adjacent Neighborhoods: North Brooklyn, Downtown Brooklyn, East New York
Public Transit: 2/3/B/D/Q, BM1, BM2, BM3, and BM4, B35, B16, B68, and B103.
What’s Here?: Central Brooklyn is primarily residential. If you’re looking for a quieter, more suburban area in NYC, this is your spot. While home to some affluent homeowners, the area also has a large working-class population, and gentrification efforts in the last few decades have brought big box stores to the area, like Target and Old Navy.
Crown Heights, primarily known as a Caribbean and Hasidic Jewish neighborhood, is an up-and-coming neighborhood with young professionals and artists. Authentic Caribbean restaurants dot the streets and some small trendy bars and restaurants have opened, such as Franklin Park beer garden, which draws a crowd from all of Crown Heights’ diverse population.
Ditmas Park is full of cute houses, but wander off the main streets and find Sycamore Bar, a flower shop and nightlife destination that even Manhattanites frequent. Flatbush, Church, and Nostrand Avenues, along with Coney Island Avenue are the most popular streets in Central Brooklyn.
Flat or Tall?: Think brownstones and townhomes; there are occasional bigger buildings but this area is mostly flat, not tall.
History: The Dutch colonized this area, and it became part of King’s County after the American Revolution. The 20th century brought several factories to NYC, and this area was perfect for working-class families to live in more spacious and affordable conditions. Some parts of the area became bourgeois suburbs, where upper-class families could move into luxurious brownstones (many of which still stand today). The later 20th century brought changing demographics to the Central Brooklyn area; the ensuing racial tension, highlighted by Crown Heights’ 1991 race riots, ultimately led to black and Jewish leaders working together to create peaceful co-existence in the community. Walk down Eastern Parkway today and you’ll see a diverse community relaxing on benches, gossiping among themselves, but definitely not conflicting.
Activities: Ethnic dining (Caribbean, Chinese, Eastern European), neighborhood bars, Prospect Park, Brooklyn College
Check it out: Because Central Brooklyn is less developed and more suburban than many other areas, nature is easy to find here. Walk around the neighborhood in autumn, when plenty of trees change color and the Victorian houses in Ditmas Park and Flatbush look their best.