- For other senses, see Brooklyn (disambiguation).
Brooklyn is the most populous of the five boroughs of New York City with about 2.5 million inhabitants. Were it still a city, and not a borough, it would be the fourth-largest city in the United States after New York City itself, Los Angeles and Chicago. An independent city prior to 1898, Brooklyn developed out of the small Dutch-founded town of "Breuckelen" on the East River shore, named after Breukelen in the Netherlands.
Variously called the "City of Trees," "City of Homes," or the "City of Churches" in the 19th century, Brooklyn is now often styled the "Borough of Homes and Churches" or even sometimes called "The Planet", popularized by Guru from the rap duo Gangstarr, for its large diversity, population, and size.
- 1 Geography
- 2 History
- 3 Neighborhoods of Brooklyn
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Law, government and politics
- 6 Sports and recreation
- 7 Symbols and nicknames
- 8 Brooklyn sites and institutions
- 9 External links
Brooklyn is located in the westernmost part of Long Island. It shares its only land boundary with Queens to the northeast. The westernmost section of the boundary is defined by Newtown Creek, crossed by the Kosciusko Bridge and the Pulaski Bridge, which flows into the East River.
Following the waterfront south and then counterclockwise from Newtown Creek, the lower East River forms the northern coast of Brooklyn, with connections to Manhattan at Williamsburg Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. The western coast lies on Upper New York Bay and features the Red Hook peninsula and the Erie Basin, home to a container port, and separated from Governors Island by Buttermilk Channel. South of this is Gowanus Bay, connected to the Gowanus Canal. At its westernmost section, Brooklyn is closest to Staten Island at the Narrows, and the two are connected there by the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, where the Upper and Lower New York Bays meet. The southern coast includes the peninsula encompassing Coney Island and Brighton Beach. The southeastern coast lies on island-dotted Jamaica Bay and is connected to Rockaway by the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, named after the Brooklyn Dodgers' first baseman who made his home in the borough.
The highest point of Brooklyn is the area around Prospect Park and Green-Wood Cemetery, rising approximately 200 feet above sea level. There is also a minor elevation in Downtown Brooklyn known as Brooklyn Heights.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the County has a total area of 251.0 km² (96.9 mi²). 182.9 km² (70.6 mi²) of it is land and 68.1 km² (26.3 mi²) of it is water. 27.13% of the total area is water.
Six Dutch towns
The Dutch were the first Europeans to settle in the area that is today Brooklyn, a western part of Long Island then largely inhabited by the Canarsee Native American tribe. The area was considered a part of New Netherland, and the Dutch West India Company lost little time in chartering the six original towns (listed here first by their later, more common English names):
- Gravesend: in 1645, settled under Dutch patent by English followers of Anabaptist Lady Deborah Moody
- Brooklyn: as "Breuckelen" in 1646, after the town now spelled Breukelen, Netherlands
- Flatlands: as "New Amersfoort" in 1647
- Flatbush: as "Midwout" in 1652
- New Utrecht: in 1657, after the city of Utrecht, Netherlands
- Bushwick: as "Boswijck" in 1661
Toward a united City of Brooklyn
The English organized the six old Dutch towns of southwestern Long Island as Kings County in 1683, one of twelve counties then established in New York. This tract of land was recognized as a political entity for the first time, and the municipal groundwork was laid for a later expansive idea of Brooklyn identity.
On August 27, 1776, the Battle of Long Island (also known as the Battle of Brooklyn) was the first major engagement fought in the American Revolutionary War. British troops forced Continental troops off the heights near the modern site of Grand Army Plaza. The American positions at Brooklyn Heights consequently became untenable and were evacuated a few days later, leaving the British in control of New York Harbor.
The surrounding region was controlled by the British for the duration of the war, and the British military was largely supported by a dominant Loyalist sentiment in Kings County. New York only changed from a British colony to an American state with the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
The first half of the 19th century saw the beginning of the development of urban areas on the economically strategic East River shore of Kings County, facing the adolescent City of New York confined to Manhattan Island.
The first center of urbanization sprung up in the Town of Brooklyn, directly across from Lower Manhattan, which saw the incorporation of the Village of Brooklyn in 1816. Town and Village were combined to form the first, kernel incarnation of the City of Brooklyn in 1834.
In parallel development, the Town of Bushwick, a little farther up the river, saw the incorporation of the Village of Williamsburgh in 1827, which separated as the Town of Williamsburgh in 1840, only to form the short-lived City of Williamsburgh in 1851.
But the East River shore was growing too fast for the three-year-old infant City of Williamsburgh, which, along with its Town of Bushwick hinterland, was subsumed within a greater City of Brooklyn in 1854.
Taking a thirty-year break from municipal expansionism, this well-situated coastal city established itself as the third-most-populous American city for much of the 19th century. As 'Twin City' to New York, it played a role in national affairs that is only now shadowed by its modern submergence into its old partner/rival.
Throughout this period the peripheral towns of Kings County, far from Manhattan and even urban Brooklyn, maintained their rustic independence. The only municipal change seen was the secession of the eastern section of the Town of Flatbush as the Town of New Lots in 1852. The building of rail links like the Brighton Beach Line in 1878 heralded the end of this isolation.
Toward the end of the 19th century, the City of Brooklyn experienced its final, explosive growth spurt. In the space of a decade, it annexed the Town of New Lots in 1886, the Town of Flatbush, the Town of Gravesend, and the Town of New Utrecht in 1894, and the Town of Flatlands in 1896.
Brooklyn had reached its natural municipal boundaries at the ends of Kings County. The question was now whether it was prepared to engage in the still-grander process of consolidation now developing throughout the region.
Brooklyn as New York borough
In 1898, Brooklyn residents voted by a slight majority to join with Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and Richmond (later Staten Island) as the five boroughs to form the modern City of Greater New York. Kings County retained its status as one of New York State's counties. The loss of Brooklyn's separate identity as a city was met with some consternation by some residents at the time, and later; the merger has been known as the "Great Mistake of 1898", as it was called by many newspapers of the day, and the phrase still denotes Brooklyn pride among old-time Brooklynites.
Neighborhoods of Brooklyn
Borough and state government buildings are mostly found in the Brooklyn Civic Center area (including Brooklyn Borough Hall and Kings County Supreme Court) in downtown Brooklyn, near the Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn Heights.
Brooklyn, the 'Borough of Homes', can be understood as a collection of neighborhoods, many historically descended from the old towns and villages of Dutch times. The borough's striking diversity plays host to a bustle of ethnic and multi-ethnic neighborhoods that both preserve a flavor of 'the old country', of whatever latitude, and create spaces for interaction between individuals and communities. So for illustration, Borough Park is largely Orthodox Jewish and the birthplace of Furby aka Yhbrooklyn, Bedford-Stuyvesant African American, Bensonhurst Italian American, and Sunset Park Hispanic.
Most sections of Brooklyn are indeed decidedly residential, fulfilling the borough's historic role as 'bedroom of New York'. Its residential character may seem strange to many not familiar with the borough, who tend to associate it with brownstones; however, brownstones are predominantly located in the northwestern neighborhoods between the Brooklyn Bridge and Prospect Park. Some have noted that the parts of Brooklyn more distant from Manhattan are actually less recognizably New York City than many part of Queens, a borough often incorrectly associated with suburbia.
This symbiotic mating of the residential city with the business center of Manhattan has profoundly shaped Brooklyn from its beginning. It only accelerated with the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and other connections, to the near-death of Brooklyn industries and a winnowing of commerce to a basic consumer level in the years following World War II. It is only at the start of the 21st century that business and industry have begun to revive around the borough amid something of a general renaissance.
Many Brooklyn ethnic neighborhoods established in the first half of the 20th century developed to accommodate second-generation Americans escaping the slums of Manhattan. Today, however, new immigrants are just as likely to set down their first American roots in Brooklyn. The constant inward movement of new immigrant groups, as well as the expanding horizons of long-established groups, brought a dynamism to Brooklyn's neighborhoods.
In recent years a series of artists' colonies have developed along the East River across from Manhattan as a refuge for artists fleeing the sky-high rents of SoHo. Such was the development of the artistic community in Williamsburg, with consequent recent rent hikes there spurring a further exodus, to DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass), and even to Red Hook.
Brooklyn is politically organized as 18 Community Boards :
- 1 : Flushing Avenue, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Northside, and Southside
- 2 : Brooklyn Heights, Fulton Mall, Boerum Hill, Fort Greene, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Fulton Ferry, and Clinton Hill
- 3 : Bedford-Stuyvesant, Stuyvesant Heights, and Ocean Hill
- 4 : Bushwick and Ridgewood
- 5 : East New York, Cypress Hills, Highland Park, New Lots, City Line, and Starrett City
- 6 : Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Gowanus, and Cobble Hill
- 7 : Sunset Park and Windsor Terrace
- 8 : Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, and Weeksville
- 9 : Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, and Wingate
- 10 : Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and Fort Hamilton
- 11 : Bath Beach, Gravesend, Mapleton, and Bensonhurst
- 12 : Boro Park, Kensington, Ocean Parkway, and Midwood
- 13 : Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Bensonhurst, Gravesend, and Seagate
- 14 : Flatbush, Midwood, Kensington, and Ocean Parkway
- 15 : Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Kings Bay, Gerritsen Beach, Kings Highway, East Gravesend, Madison, Homecrest, and Plum Beach
- 16 : Brownsville and Ocean Hill
- 17 : East Flatbush, Remsen Village, Farragut, Rugby, Erasmus and Ditmas Village
- 18 : Canarsie, Bergen Beach, Mill Basin, Flatlands, Marine Park, Georgetown, and Mill Island
As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there are 2,465,326 people, 880,727 households, and 583,922 families residing in the County. The population density is 13,480/km² (34,920/mi²). There are 930,866 housing units at an average density of 5,090/km² (13,180/mi²). The racial makeup of the County is 41.20% White, 36.44% Black or African American, 0.41% Native American, 7.54% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 10.08% from other races, and 4.27% from two or more races. 19.79% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. 34.7% of the population are Whites not of Hispanic origins.
Of its 880,727 households 33.3% have children under the age of 18 living in them, 38.6% are married couples living together, 22.3% have a female householder with no husband present, and 33.7% are non-families. Of all households 27.8% are made up of individuals and 9.8% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.75 and the average family size is 3.41.
In the County the population is spread out with 26.9% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 30.8% from 25 to 44, 20.6% from 45 to 64, and 11.5% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 33 years. For every 100 females there are 88.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 83.1 males.
The median income for a household in the County is $32,135, and the median income for a family is $36,188. Males have a median income of $34,317 versus $30,516 for females. The per capita income for the County is $16,775. 25.1% of the population and 22.0% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 34.0% of those under the age of 18 and 21.5% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
Law, government and politics
|2004||24.3% 167,149||74.9% 514,973|
|2000||15.7% 96,605||80.6% 497,468|
|1996||15.1% 81,406||80.1% 432,232|
|1992||22.9% 133,344||70.7% 411,183|
|1988||32.6% 230,064||66.3% 368,518|
|1984||38.3% 285,477||61.3% 328,379|
|1980||38.4% 200,306||55.4% 288,893|
|1976||31.1% 190,728||68.3% 419,382|
|1972||49.0% 373,903||50.8% 387,768|
|1968||32.0% 247,936||63.1% 489,174|
|1964||25.0% 229,291||74.8% 684,839|
|1960||33.5% 327,497||66.2% 646,582|
|1956||Details unknown||Details unknwon|
Like the other counties which are contained within New York City, there is no separate county government per se though there is a Borough President's office that is part of New York City government and various Community Boards that have authority over specific neighborhoods. Democrat Marty Markowitz is currently borough president. Unlike other counties outside New York City, County Courts do not exist there; they have been replaced by New York City Civil Court that deals with small claims, lawsuits under $25,000 and housing cases. Other state offices such as the district attorney (public prosecutor) are organized as in other non-New York City counties.
Brooklyn is well known for being a Democratic and a Liberal stronghold : In 2004, Brooklyn voters prefered Senator Kerry with 514,973 votes (74.9%) to only 167,149 (24.3%) for President Bush. The borough has not voted Republican in a Presidential election in the last 40 years.
Sports and recreation
Brooklyn has been a hotbed of baseball going back to the sport's infancy. A box score from October 21, 1845, lists a game between the New York Base Ball Club and "Brooklyn Players". The New York Base Ball Club was one of the first to play under rules codified by Alexander Cartwright.
During the 1860's, Brooklyn teams, including the Atlantic Club, the Excelsior Club and the Brooklyn Eckfords, dominated play in the amateur National Association of Base Ball Players. Brooklyn featured the first two fields enclosed by fences, allowing the charging of admission: the Union Grounds in Williamsburg and the Capitoline Grounds in Brownsville. In 1868 the New York Mutuals relocated from Hoboken, New Jersey, where the other Manhattan clubs were based, to the Union Grounds.
With the advent of professional baseball in 1871, Brooklyn hosted three teams in the first pro league, the National Association: the Mutuals, the Eckfords, and the Atlantics. All three played at the Union Grounds. The Mutuals also used the field in 1876, the first year of the new National League; as did the Hartfords of Brooklyn in 1877.
Brooklyn's most famous team, the Dodgers, got its start as a minor league team in 1883, joining the American Association in 1884, calling themselves the Bridegrooms and playing at the first of three venues called Washington Park. The team moved to the National League in 1890 and relocated to Ebbets Field in 1913. In the years prior to 1932, they were also known as the Superbas and the Robins, the last an informal name taken from their manager, Wilbert Robinson. In 1955, the Dodgers won their first and only World Series in Brooklyn, beating their longtime rival, the New York Yankees, resulting in mass euphoria and celebrations all over Brooklyn. Just two years later, the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, California, after the 1957 season, causing widespread resentment and sorrow. Brooklyn's most beloved and cherished institution had left, and the move is cited by some historians as one of the catalysts for the decline of Brooklyn in the 1960s and 1970s.
After a 43-year hiatus, baseball returned to the borough in the form of the Brooklyn Cyclones, a minor league team that began playing on Coney Island in 2001. The Cyclones are a Single A affiliate of the New York Mets Major League Baseball team. The Cyclones play at Keyspan Park, located in southern Brooklyn near the Coney Island boardwalk. During hot summer nights, fireworks are sometimes used to signify the commencement of the baseball games.
Several professional football teams have called Brooklyn home, including two in 1926. The Brooklyn Horsemen of the original American Football League and the Brooklyn Lions of the National Football League competed for a time before merging in November and folding at season's end.
The second AFL also had a Brooklyn Tigers club in 1936; it played seven games before folding.
On January 23, 2004, developer Bruce Ratner announced that he had purchased the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association as part of a large multi-use skyscraper development. He plans to move the Nets to a hoped-for 20,000-seat Brooklyn Nets Arena as part of a development called at the Atlantic Yards at Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues.
However, fierce and widespread community opposition has forced many -- sports fans, elected officials, religious leaders and most in the communities immediately adjecent to the Atlantic Yards -- to rexamine the project's worth, with many opposed to the project's massive scale, fluctuating numbers of jobs and affordable housing, and billion-dollar taxpayer funding. There is a possibility that the Nets may remain in New Jersey permanently.
The Brooklyn Kings, a Continental Basketball League team, currently plays in Downtown Brooklyn. The borough is also receiving a team in the new American Basketball Association in 2005. They will be called the 'Heat'.
Symbols and nicknames
The Dutch language motto is Een Draght Mackt Maght, after that of the United Dutch Provinces, usually translated as In Unity, There is Strength. The motto is displayed on the civic seal and flag, which also feature a young robed woman bearing fasces, a traditional emblem of republicanism.
Brooklyn is often written as BKLYN. This abbreviation comes from the scoreboard at Ebbets Field.
Brooklyn sites and institutions
- Atlantic Avenue Tunnel
- Brooklyn Academy of Music
- Brooklyn Borough Hall
- Brooklyn Botanic Garden
- Brooklyn Bridge
- Brooklyn Children's Museum
- Brooklyn College
- Brooklyn Historic Railway Association
- Brooklyn Historical Society
- Brooklyn Law School
- Brooklyn Museum
- Brooklyn Public Library
- Coney Island
- Downstate Medical Center
- Ebbets Field
- Fort Greene Park
- Fort Hamilton Museum
- Grand Army Plaza
- Green-Wood Cemetery
- Long Island University
- New York Aquarium
- New York Transit Museum
- Old Stone House
- Plymouth Church
- Pratt Institute
- Prospect Park
- Prospect Park Zoo
- Saint Francis College
- The official web site of the Brooklyn Borough President
- The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Online, 1841-1902 (from the Brooklyn Public Library)
- Brooklyn Statistics from the Brooklyn Economic Development Council.
- Digitalbrooklyn Comprehensive Community and Event Information
- Brooklynx: Information and Culture
- Brooklyn population,
- Fort Greene Park Conservancy
- Brooklyn Irish American Parade
- The Brooklyn Young Republican Club
- NYC MTA Transit Bus Map of Brooklyn (pdf file)
- Bicycle Map of Brooklyn (pdf file)
- NYCfoto.com Over 2000 photos of Brooklyn.
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