Neighborhood: Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Population Density: 79,036 residents, Population Density: 55,739/square mile (Brooklyn: 34,917 people per square mile)
Adjacent Neighborhoods: Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, East Flatbush, Lefferts Gardens, Prospect Heights, Clinton Hill
Public Transit: 3, 4 (Franklin, Nostrand, Kingston, Utica Avenues), 2, 5 (Nostrand Ave and President Street)
What’s Here?: Crown Heights is home to a vibrant West Indian population, so visitors or potential residents looking for great authentic Caribbean food are in luck. Nearby Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden offer a bit of peace and quiet in the middle of the borough, or free summer concerts if you choose to stop by Brower Park. Barboncino is the place to go for some of the best sopressata and pizza in Brooklyn, and The Crown Inn boasts a great cocktail menu and a cozy but elegant ambiance for post-work or weekend meetups. The list of hot spots in Crown Heights has spiked in the past few years, and the neighborhood’s bar and restaurant scene is steadily growing; Bar Corvo, named after Crown Heights’ original name, Crow Hill (“corvo” is crow in Italian), is a casual but delightful new restaurant with rustic charm.
Flat or Tall?: Crown Heights residents enjoy living in the area’s characteristic brownstones and rowhouses, left over from its beginnings as a posh residential neighborhood for Manhattan’s growing bourgeois class in the early 1900s. There are also less ornate, larger housing complexes in the neighborhood, but there is a strong preservation effort to maintain the traditional look of the original Crown Heights.
History: Crown Heights saw its first European settlements when New Netherland’s Director-General Peter Stuyvesant and the directors of the Dutch West India Company received the land in the mid-17th century. 200 years later, it was still a neighborhood for the rich, but the population diversified rapidly in the early to mid-20th century, when West Indians and African Americans from the South moved to the area and a large Jewish community arrived as well. Today, it remains a dynamic and diverse, and increasingly gentrified, community with representation from a variety of ethnicities.
Activities: Spend some time outdoors in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Prospect Park, or Brower Park, take children to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum to engage in hands-on learning, browse locally made, eco-friendly and fair trade clothing and goods at the Owl and Thistle General Store, try out a delicious melted meal from the Morris Grilled Cheese truck or a critically-acclaimed (but affordable) bowl of pasta with a wine pairing at Al Di La Trattoria, or check out offbeat art exhibits at Five Myles Gallery.
Check it out: Catch the West Indian Carnival in early September, and spend some time in the parks during the warmer months to take advantage of free concerts and other events.