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Brownsville is a residential neighborhood located in eastern Brooklynmarker, New Yorkmarker.

The total land area is one square mile, and the ZIP code for the neighborhood is 11212.Brownsville is bordered by East New York Avenue to the north (on the Bedford-Stuyvesantmarker border), East 98th Street to the west (East Flatbush) and the freight rail Bay Ridge Branch of the Long Island Rail Road to the south (adjacent to the neighborhood of Canarsiemarker).

The area is patrolled by the 73rd Precinct located at 1470 East New York Avenue. New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) property in the area is patrolled by P.S.A. 2. It is part of Brooklyn Community Board 16.


As of the 2000 U.S. Census, Brownsville's population was 85,151 and the demographics were 85.6% Black or African American, 13.9% Hispanic or Latino, 3.6% Caucasian, 0.6% Asian, 0.4% Native American, 3.7% were two or more races, and 6.0% described themselves as other. 60.1% of the population over 25 were High School graduates and 8.0% had a Bachelor's degree or higher. As of 1999, the median household income was $20,839. There were a total of 30,216 housing units in Brownsville, 85.4% of them are renter occupied. 38.3% of the population are below the poverty level.

Land use

Brownsville is dominated by public housing developments of various types. There is also a significant concentration of semi-detached multi-unit row houses similar to those found in East New York and Soundviewmarker surrounding the public housing developments. Many, however, have been torn down and replaced by vacant lots or newly constructed subsidized attached multi-unit rowhouses. There is also a small number of tenements in the area. The neighborhood contains the highest concentration of NYCHA projects in Brooklyn.

Low-income public housing projects

There are eighteen NYCHA developments located in Brownsville.
  1. 104-14 Tapscott Street; one 4-story building.
  2. Brownsville Houses; twenty-seven buildings, 6 and 7-stories tall
  3. Glenmore Plaza; four buildings, 10, 18 and 24-stories tall.
  4. Howard Houses; ten buildings, 7 and 13-stories tall.
  5. Hughes Apartments; three, 22-story buildings.
  6. Sethlow Houses; four buildings, 17 and 18-stories tall.
  7. Marcus Garvey (Group A); three buildings, 6 and 14-stories tall.
  8. Reverend Randolph Brown; two, 6-story buildings.
  9. Sutter Avenue-Union Street; three rehabilitated tenement buildings, 4 and 6-stories tall.
  10. Tapscott Street Rehab; eight, 4-story rehabilitated tenement buildings.
  11. Tilden Houses; eight, 16-story buildings.
  12. Van Dyke I; 22 buildings, 3 and 14-stories tall.
  13. Van Dyke II; one 14-story building.
  14. Woodson Houses; two buildings, 10 and 25-stories tall.


Brownsville was politically radical from the 1880s to the 1950s, throughout the 1920s and 1930s, it elected Socialist and American Labor Party candidates to the state assembly .

As early as the 1910s, the area had acquired a reputation as a vicious slum and breeding ground for crime. It has been known throughout the years for its criminal gangs and in the 30s and 40s achieved notoriety as the birthplace of Murder, Inc.A predominantly Jewish neighborhood until the 1960s, when its population had become largely African-American and Brownsville's unemployment rate was 17 percent. Half of all families in the district lived on less than $5,000 a year. As Jimmy Breslin wrote in 1968, Brownsville reminded him of
Berlin after the war; block after block of burned-out shells of houses, streets littered with decaying automobile hulks. The stores on the avenues are empty and the streets are lined with deserted apartment houses or buildings that have empty apartments on every floor.

In 1968 Brownsville was the setting of a protracted and highly contentious teacher strike. The Board of Education had experimented with giving the people of the neighborhood control over the school. The new administration laid off several teachers in violation of union contract rules. The teachers were all white and mostly Jewish, and the resulting strike served to badly divide the whole city. The resulting strike dragged on for half a year, becoming known as one of John Lindsay's "Ten Plagues".[96209]

Art and Architecture

Social problems

Many social problems associated with poverty from crime to drug addiction have plagued the area for decades. Despite the decline of crime compared to their peaks during the crack and heroin epidemics, violent crime continues to be a serious problem in the community. Brownsville has significantly higher dropout rates and incidents of violence in its schools. Students must pass through metal detectors and swipe ID cards to enter the buildings, however most public NYC high schools have adopted this approach regardless of their location. Other problems in local schools include low test scores and high truancy rates.

Due to the lucrative drug trade in the area, many addicts reside in the community. Peer pressure among children who come from broken homes contributes to the high rate of usage. Many households in the area are headed by single mothers contributes to truancy and the high poverty rate. Many of these single mothers had their first child at a very young age and unfortunately cannot adequately provide for their children. The incarceration rate in the area is also very high. Many if not most men in the community have been arrested at some point in their lives. This has a direct correlation to aggressive policing tactics including "sweeps" due to the area's high crime rate: Brownsville is home to a significant number of inmates currently held in New York state prison and jail facilities.

In 2003, the United States Army established a training program at the hospital called the Academy of Advanced Combat Medicine to train reserve medics in an emergency room that has received 600 cases per year of gunshot and stabbing victims. Their numbers for shooting victims are significantly higher than the NYPD records, and they have been noticing a rise over the last few years.

Urban renewal

After a wave of arson throughout the 1970s ravaged the low-income communities of New York City, many if not most of the residential structures in Brownsville were left seriously damaged or destroyed. The city began to rehabilitate many formally abandoned tenement- style apartment buildings and designate them low-income housing beginning in the late 1970s. Also many subsidized multi-unit townhouses and newly constructed apartment buildings have been or are being built on vacant lots across across the neighborhood.

Until recently Brownsville was the only Brooklyn school district without a high school. There are now two, both housed in the same building at 226 Bristol St. Teachers Preparatory opened in September 2001, and FDA VII opened in September 2004. Teachers Preparatory School serves 6th through 12th graders, and received a grade of "A" on both its middle school and high school report cards for the year 2008.


Brownsville's main thoroughfare is Pitkin Avenue. It is also accessible on the New York City subway system via the 3 and L trains.

Notable natives


Image:Brownsvillebk1.JPG|Van Dyke I Houses.Image:Brownsvillebk2.JPG|Local retail, the Riverdale Towers sit in the background.Image:Brownsvillebk3.JPG|Large vacant Lot.Image:Brownsvillebkskyline.JPG|Brownsville Brooklyn Skyline.

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