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Brooklyn, Before they Gentrify




The Real Brooklyn Neighborhoods:

Inside the Brooklyn Ghetto

New York City’s most praised borough, and the city’s largest borough, has a combination of legendary neighborhoods that leads Brooklyn into being the true mecca for the streets of the NYC.

A borough with upper class neighborhoods, predominantly Asian communities like Sunset Park and predominantly Latino communities like Bushwick, but without a doubt the heart of Brooklyn resides in Bed Stuy (Bedford Stuyvesant), Crown Heights, Flatbush, Brownsville and East New York.

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The first official black area of Brooklyn as during the days of segregation Bedford Stuyvesant had one of the country’s largest black populations in a single neighborhood, before the black population expanded into other eastern Brooklyn neighborhoods.

In the very beginning of Brooklyn’s existence, the very vast majority of the original Brooklyn neighborhoods were home to families with different ethnicities and cultures, but all from a European background, mostly Jewish.

But one specific neighborhood is an exception, Bedford-Stuyvesant (Bed Stuy), as the former home of legends Jay-Z and Notorious BIG was not necessarily a rival to Harlem but Bed-Stuy is one of the city’s oldest black communities that was well famed back in the neighborhood’s early days for black entertainment, ownership, and success.

brooklyn ghetto brooklyn neighborhoods

While Bed Stuy was the first official black community of Brooklyn, neighboring Crown Heights had a small West Indian and African American population since the early 1900s, but not until the late 1940s and early 1950s did the white population began leave the community.

By the 1960s, many of the areas in Brooklyn, like Brownsville and East New York, started to change as the communities were slowly becoming more of a home to the city’s African American population, due to the fact that many of the white families were leaving for other areas in either Brooklyn, New York City, New Jersey or Long Island.

brooklyn neighborhoods brooklyn ghetto

The famous Coney Island neighborhood is one of the city’s most popular attractions, but just west of the boardwalk is the true Coney Island community, a community of the Gravesend Projects, along with small neighborhoods around Mermaid and Surf avenues.

 

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West Indian Day Parade. Following African Americans, a large influx of West Indians during the 1980s were added into Brooklyn, which helped Brooklyn’s black population expand into places like Canarsie or the Flatlands, even though West Indians have been in Brooklyn for many generations.

 

brooklyn ghetto brooklyn projects

There are over 30 housing projects in Brooklyn, with some once being very reputable during New York City’s crime peak of the crack era, that include the likes of Fort Greene, Marcy Projects, numerous public housing buildings in Brownsville, as well a few of East New York and others.

 

brooklyn neighborhoods brooklyn ghetto

In Brooklyn neighborhoods like Bushwick and Sunset Park, the Latino population have once created homes for their families as the once descendants of European immigrants fled the community and were replaced by Puerto Ricans and other Hispanics, starting around the mid-1900s.

The movement of African Americans and Latinos into many of the Brooklyn neighborhoods was with the help of blockbusting and redlining. These practices are when banks and real estate companies would try to influence white families to sell their homes and force minority families to move into a specific location while having only a few limited choices on where they could live.

As the process changed the demographics of the neighborhoods, many of the communities began to decline and transform into areas that were often referred as the Brooklyn ghetto, since many in the communities lack access to financial institutions, while the city somewhat turned a blind eye to the conditions of the neighborhoods that minorities were purposely placed in.

The new keyword for Brooklyn is gentrification as many current Brooklyn neighborhoods, like Bed Stuy, Bushwick, Brownsville or Crown Heights, are being affected due to their close location to Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn.

With the gentrification there is a shrinking population within the urban community, mainly African Americans and Latinos, as there is relocation or an exodus out of the the traditional urban communities with a large newly arrival of hipsters, millennials, and families from other culture backgrounds. 

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Check out more of Brooklyn and other New York City communities.

*Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research.  Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.

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