Theme Week New York City – Brooklyn

Friday, 22 July 2016 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, New York City

Brooklyn Borough Hall © Jim.henderson

Brooklyn Borough Hall © Jim.henderson

Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City‘s five boroughs, with a Census-estimated 2,6 million residents in 2015. It is geographically adjacent to the borough of Queens at the southwestern end of Long Island. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, the most populous county in the U.S. state of New York, and the second-most densely populated county in the United States, after the county of New York (which is coextensive with the borough of Manhattan). With a land area of 71 square miles (180 km2) and water area of 26 square miles (67 km2), Kings County is New York’s fourth-smallest county by land area and third-smallest by total area, though it is the second-largest among the city’s five boroughs. Today, if it were an independent city, Brooklyn would rank as the fourth most populous city in the U.S., behind only the other boroughs of New York City combined, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The history of European settlement in Brooklyn spans more than 350 years. The settlement began in the 17th century as the small Dutch-founded town of “Breuckelen” on the East River shore of Long Island, grew to be a sizable city in the 19th century, and was consolidated in 1898 with New York City (then confined to Manhattan and part of the Bronx), the remaining rural areas of Kings County, and the largely rural areas of Queens and Staten Island, to form the modern City of New York. In the first decades of the 21st century, Brooklyn has experienced a renaissance as an avant garde destination for hipsters, with concomitant gentrification, dramatic house price increases, and a decrease in housing affordability. Since 2010, Brooklyn has evolved into a thriving hub of entrepreneurship and high technology startup firms, and of postmodern art and design. The borough continues, however, to maintain a distinct culture. Many Brooklyn neighborhoods are ethnic enclaves. Brooklyn’s official motto, displayed on the Borough seal and flag, is Eendraght Maeckt Maght, which translates from early modern Dutch to “Unity makes strength“.

Brooklyn lies at the southwestern end of Long Island, and the borough’s western border constitutes the island’s western tip. Brooklyn’s water borders are extensive and varied, including Jamaica Bay; the Atlantic Ocean; The Narrows, separating Brooklyn from the borough of Staten Island in New York City and crossed by the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge; Upper New York Bay, separating Brooklyn from Jersey City and Bayonne in the U.S. state of New Jersey; and the East River, separating Brooklyn from the borough of Manhattan in New York City and traversed by the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge, and numerous routes of the New York City Subway. To the east of Brooklyn lies the borough of Queens, which contains John F. Kennedy International Airport in that borough’s Howard Beach neighborhood, approximately two miles from the border of the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Brooklyn’s job market is driven by three main factors: the performance of the national and city economy, population flows and the borough’s position as a convenient back office for New York’s businesses. Forty-four percent of Brooklyn’s employed population, or 410,000 people, work in the borough; more than half of the borough’s residents work outside its boundaries. As a result, economic conditions in Manhattan are important to the borough’s jobseekers. Strong international immigration to Brooklyn generates jobs in services, retailing and construction. Since the late 20th century, Brooklyn has benefited from a steady influx of financial back office operations from Manhattan, the rapid growth of a high-tech and entertainment economy in DUMBO, and strong growth in support services such as accounting, personal supply agencies, and computer services firms. Jobs in the borough have traditionally been concentrated in manufacturing, but since 1975, Brooklyn has shifted from a manufacturing-based to a service-based economy.

Brooklyn’s neighborhoods are dynamic in ethnic composition. For example, during the early to mid-20th century, Brownsville had a majority of American Jewish residents; since the 1970s it has been majority African American. Midwood during the early 20th century was filled with Irish Americans, then filled with Jewish residents for nearly 50 years, and is slowly becoming a Pakistani American enclave. Brooklyn’s most populous racial group, white, declined from 97.2% in 1930 to 46.9% by 1990. Today, Arab Americans and Pakistanis along with other Muslim communities have moved into the southwest portion of Brooklyn, particularly to Bay Ridge, where there are many Middle Eastern restaurants, hookah lounges, halal shops, Islamic shops and mosques. Coney Island Avenue is home to Little Pakistan as Church Avenue is to Bangladeshi Americans. Jay Street Borough Hall (Downtown Brooklyn) is Little Arabia. Pakistani Independence Day is celebrated every year with parades and parties on Coney Island Avenue. Earlier, the area was known predominately for its Irish American, Norwegian American, and Scottish American populations. There are also many Middle Eastern, particularly Yemeni American, businesses, mosques, and restaurants on Atlantic Avenue west of Flatbush Avenue, near Brooklyn Heights. Along with gentrification, many of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods are also becoming increasingly diverse, with an influx of immigrants integrating its neighborhoods. The borough also attracts people previously living in other cities in the United States. Of these, most come from Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, Cincinnati, and Seattle.

Brooklyn Heights Casino © flickr.com - Joe Mabel/cc-by-sa-3.0 Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn Heights at sunset © Beyond My Ken/cc-by-sa-3.0 The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch at Grand Army Plaza © Jeffrey O. Gustafson/cc-by-sa-3.0 Brooklyn Borough Hall © Jim.henderson Brooklyn Bridge © Postdlf/cc-by-sa-3.0 Beach at Coney Island © Invertzoo/cc-by-sa-3.0 Dumbo at sunset © MusikAnimal/cc-by-sa-4.0 Prospect Park Boathouse © Ben Franske/cc-by-sa-4.0
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The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch at Grand Army Plaza © Jeffrey O. Gustafson/cc-by-sa-3.0
Brooklyn contains dozens of distinct neighborhoods, representing many of the major ethnic groups found within the New York City area. The borough is home to a large African American community. Bedford-Stuyvesant is home to one of the most famous African American communities in the city, along with Brownsville, East New York, and Coney Island. Brooklyn’s African American and Caribbean American communities are spread throughout much of Brooklyn. Brooklyn is also home to many Russian Americans and Ukrainian Americans, who are mainly concentrated in the areas of Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay. Brighton Beach features many Russian and Ukrainian businesses and has been nicknamed Litte Russia and Little Odessa, respectively. Originally these communities were mostly Jewish; however, the non-Jewish Russian and Ukrainian communities of Brighton Beach now also represent various aspects of Russian and Ukrainian culture. Bushwick is the largest hub of Brooklyn’s Hispanic and Latino American community. Like other Hispanic neighborhoods in New York City, Bushwick has an established Puerto Rican presence, along with an influx of many Dominican Americans, South Americans, Central Americans, Mexican Americans, as well as a more recent influx of Puerto Ricans. As nearly 80% of Bushwick’s population is Hispanic, its residents having created many businesses to support their various national and distinct traditions in food and other items. Sunset Park‘s population is 42% Hispanic, made up of these various ethnic groups. Brooklyn’s main Hispanic groups are Puerto Rican Americans, Mexican Americans, Dominican Americans, and Panamanian Americans; they are spread out throughout the borough. Puerto Ricans and Dominicans are predominant in Bushwick, Williamsburg, and East New York, while Mexicans are predominant in Sunset Park and Panamanians in Crown Heights. Italian Americans are mainly concentrated in the neighborhoods of Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, Bay Ridge, Bath Beach, Cobble Hill, and Carroll Gardens where there are many Italian restaurants, bakeries, delicatessens, pizzerias, cafes, and social clubs. Brooklyn’s Polish Americans are largely concentrated in Greenpoint, which is home to Little Poland. They are also scattered throughout the southern parts of Brooklyn.

Orthodox Jews and Hasidic Jews have become concentrated in Borough Park, Williamsburg, and Flatbush, where there are many yeshivas, synagogues, and kosher delicatessens, as well as many other Jewish businesses. Other notable religious Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish neighborhoods are Kensington, Midwood, Canarsie, Sea Gate, and Crown Heights. Many hospitals in Brooklyn were started by Jewish charities, including Maimonides Medical Center in Borough Park and Brookdale Hospital in Brownsville. Many non-religious Jews are concentrated in Ditmas Park, Windsor Terrace and Park Slope.

Brooklyn’s West Indian American community is concentrated in the Crown Heights, Flatbush, East Flatbush, Kensington, and Canarsie neighborhoods in central Brooklyn. Brooklyn is home to one of the largest communities of West Indians outside of the Caribbean, being rivaled only by Toronto, Miami, Montreal, and London. Although the largest West Indian groups in Brooklyn are mostly Jamaican Americans, Guyanese Americans and Haitian Americans, there are West Indian Americans from nearly every part of the Caribbean. Crown Heights and Flatbush are home to many of Brooklyn’s West Indian restaurants and bakeries. Brooklyn has an annual, celebrated Carnival in the tradition of pre-Lenten celebrations in the islands. Started by natives of Trinidad and Tobago, the West Indian Labor Day Parade takes place every Labor Day on Eastern Parkway. Brooklyn’s Greek Americans live throughout the borough, but their businesses today are concentrated in Downtown Brooklyn near Atlantic Avenue. Greek-owned diners are also found throughout the borough, but many Greeks have re-located off of Atlantic Avenue due to demographic shift. Chinese Americans live throughout the southern parts of Brooklyn, in Sunset Park, Bensonhurst, Gravesend, and Homecrest. The largest concentration is in Sunset Park along 8th Avenue, which is known for Chinese culture. It is called “Brooklyn’s Chinatown“. Many Chinese restaurants can be found throughout Sunset Park, and the area hosts a popular Chinese New Year celebration. Irish Americans can be found throughout Brooklyn, in low to moderate concentrations in the neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, and Vinegar Hill. Many moved east on Long Island in the mid-twentieth century.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on Brooklyn Borough Hall, Wikivoyage Brooklyn and Wikipedia Brooklyn (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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