Population: 57,788 people; population density 34,344 people per square mile (Brooklyn-wide: 34,917 people per square mile)
Adjacent Neighborhoods: Midwood, East Flatbush, Canarsie, Bergen Beach, Mill Basin, Marine Park
Public Transit: Although there is no subway service in Flatlands itself, the 2/5 (Flatbush Av-Brooklyn College) is nearby, depending on your location within the neighborhood. Numerous local and express buses serve Flatlands.
What’s Here?: While most New Yorkers might not be able to imagine living without subway service, Flatlands residents tend to feel as if they’re guarding a secret: the lack of subways is a big part of what gives this neighborhood in southeast Brooklyn its tranquil, community-oriented feel. A historically Jewish and Italian area, today Flatlands is a vibrant multicultural neighborhood with large Jamaican, Haitian, and Pakistani communities-over 40% of its residents were born outside of the United States. While the residential areas of Flatlands are quaint and tree-lined, the neighborhood also boasts good shopping along Flatbush Avenue; and you’ll find Macy’s and dozens of other stores at the Kings Plaza Shopping Center and Marina in nearby Marine Park.
Flat or Tall?: Like many of its neighbors, Flatlands was developed according to a suburban model. Wandering its streets, you’ll find single- and two-family homes in every imaginable architectural style, including many charming 1950s-era houses and bungalows. Many homes in the area have tidy front lawns and gardens, adding to Flatlands’ suburb-in-the-city feel.
History: Known as Keskachauge to the Canarsee Indians and Nieuw Amersfoort to the Dutch, this neighborhood took on its current moniker when the British wrested control of New Netherland from the Dutch in 1664. Its proximity to Jamaica Bay’s marshes made Flatlands a particularly fertile area, and it grew into a thriving agricultural center with a significant slave population-slaves accounted for 20% of the population when the practice was abolished in New York in 1827. Flatlands has a reputation for marching to the beat of its own drum: in 1896 it became the very last town to be annexed by the City of Brooklyn.
Activities: Shopping, parks, historical sites.
Check it out: Take a peek at New York City’s oldest house, the Wyckoff House and Museum, where children and adults can learn to preserve and pickle food; the house’s annual Breukelen Country Fair is a multicultural celebration of the borough’s agrarian roots. The neighborhood’s rich history also comes alive at the Lott House, which was once a stop on the Underground Railroad.