East New York, Brooklyn

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Typical multi-unit semi-detached rowhouses in East New York.

East New York is a mixed industrial and residential neighborhood in the eastern section of the borough of Brooklyn in New York City, United States. The neighborhood is part of Brooklyn Community Board 5.[1] Its boundaries, starting from the north and moving clockwise are: Cypress Hills Cemetery to the north, the Borough of Queens to the east, Jamaica Bay to the south, and the Bay Ridge Branch railway tracks next to Van Sinderen Avenue to the west. Linden Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue are the primary thoroughfares through East New York. ZIP codes include 11207, 11208, and 11239. The area is patrolled by the 75th Precinct located at 1000 Sutter Avenue. New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) property in the area is patrolled by P.S.A. 2. During the latter part of the twentieth century East New York came to be predominantly inhabited by African Americans and Latinos.

Demographics[edit]

East New York has a population around 183,000 (2010) the fastest growing population in Brooklyn despite a rapid decline across the city due to gentrification. As of 2010, East New York was 51.4% Non-Hispanic Black, 36.7% Hispanic or Latino, 6.4% Asian, 1.9% Non-Hispanic White, and 3.6% described themselves as other. Over half the population lives below the poverty line and receives public assistance (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families [TANF], Home Relief, Supplemental Security Income, and Medicaid). East New York is predominantly African American with a significant Puerto Rican and Dominican population as well.[2]

Land use[edit]

East New York consists of mixed properties but primarily semi-detached homes, 2-4 family houses and multi-unit apartment buildings including condominiums and co-ops. The area is also home to the East Brooklyn Industrial Park. Public Housing developments of various type and a smaller number of tenements populate the area. The total land area is one square mile.

East Brooklyn Industrial Park[edit]

In 1980, the forty-four block East Brooklyn Industrial Park was established by the New York City Public Development Corporation in the northwest quadrant of East New York, Brooklyn. It is bounded by Atlantic Avenue, Sheffield Avenue, Sutter Avenue and Powell Street.

Public housing projects[edit]

There are twelve NYCHA developments located in East New York.[3]

  • Belmont-Sutter Area; three 3-story buildings.
  • Boulevard Houses was the first of 12 developments to be built in the area. Built in 1951 it includes eighteen buildings, 6- and 14-stories tall.
  • Cypress Hills Houses; fifteen 7-story buildings.
  • East New York City Line; thirty-three 3-story buildings.
  • Fiorentino Plaza; eight 4-story buildings.
  • Linden Houses; nineteen buildings, 8 and 14-stories.
  • Long Island Baptist Houses; four, 6-story rehabilitated tenement buildings.
  • Pennsylvania Avenue-Wortman Avenue; three buildings, 8- and 16-stories tall.
  • Louis Heaton Pink Houses; twenty-two 8-story buildings.
  • Unity Plaza (Sites 4, 5A, 6, 7, 11, 12, 27); five 6-story buildings.
  • Unity Plaza (Sites 17, 24, 25A); three buildings 6-stories tall.
  • Vandalia Avenue; two 10-story buildings.

Community Gardens[edit]

With the founding of East New York Farms in 1998, there has been a increase usage in lots. Various organizations and local community groups have different gardens in order to beautify the area.

Subsections[edit]

City Line[edit]

City Line is a subsection of East New York. The Brooklyn-Queens border (Drew Street) to the east, Fountain Avenue to the west. Salem Fields Cemetery to the north and Jamaica bay to the south.

New Lots[edit]

New Lots is often included in East New York. The boundaries of New Lots, starting from the south and moving counterclockwise, are: Linden Blvd to the south, Fountain Avenue to the east, Sutter Avenue to the north, and Van Sinderen Avenue to the west.

Spring Creek[edit]

Spring Creek is the southeastern part of the former Town of New Lots, and is often included in East New York. Its boundaries, starting from the north and moving clockwise are: Linden Boulevard to the north, the Fountain Avenue border to the east, Gateway National Recreation Area to the south, and Schenck Avenue to the west. Spring Creek includes the Starrett City apartment complex, the Gateway Plaza Mall, and the Spring Creek Nehemiah affordable housing development.[4]

Cypress Hills[edit]

Cypress Hills is a subsection north of New Lots. The Cypress Hills housing project is not in Cypress Hills, it is in the City Line subsection of East New York. Van Sinderen Avenue to the west & Eldert Lane, Drew Street, 75th Street, Dumont Avenue, 78th Street and 155th Avenue to the east. It is located north of Sutter Avenue, and south of Highland Park and the Cypress Hills Cemetery.

Starrett City[edit]

Starrett City is a large subsidized apartment complex. Each building has between 11 and 20 floors. Its boundaries, starting from the north and moving clockwise are: Flatlands Avenue to the north, Hendrix Street to the east, Jamaica Bay to the south and the Fresh Creek Basin.

The Hole[edit]

The hole is an isolated 5 block triangular section that shares border with queens. It has the lowest elevation within the city. It considered to be a lost neighborhood behind high rise buildings. The area is home to national association of black cowboys.

Bordering neighborhoods[edit]

History[edit]

A chain of hills, geologically a terminal moraine, separates northwestern Long Island from Jamaica and the Hempstead Plains, the main part of Long Island's fertile outwash plain. One low spot in the chain passed a few 18th Century roads, including the ferry road or Palmer Turnpike from Brooklyn to Jamaica, hence it was called "Jamaica Pass". During the American Revolutionary War invading British and Hessian soldiers ended an all-night march at this pass in August 1776 to surprise and flank General George Washington and the Continental Army, to win the Battle of Long Island.

In the middle 19th century the road between Brooklyn and Jamaica became the Brooklyn and Jamaica Plank Road. The New York and Manhattan Beach Railway (1877) and the Long Island Rail Road (1878) were also built through the pass. The point where they met was called Broadway Junction. As often happened at 19th century railroad junctions, a railway town arose. Sprawling development into recently rustic northern part of the Town of New Lots followed the reach of elevated transit lines into the area: the Jamaica Avenue Line in 1885 and the Fulton Street Line in 1889. The road to Brooklyn was renamed Fulton Street, the one to Jamaica, Jamaica Avenue and the one to Williamsburg, Broadway.

East New York was annexed as the 26th Ward of the rapidly growing City of Brooklyn; in 1897 it was brought into New York City as a whole with the consolidation of Brooklyn and other boroughs into a single city. In the 20th century its name came to be applied to much of the former township.

In 1939, the Works Progress Administration Guide to New York City [1] wrote:

The development of East New York began in 1835 through the enterprise of John R. Pitkin, a wealthy Connecticut merchant who visualized it as a great city rivaling New York. The Panic of 1837 smashed his hopes. After 1853, a modest development began. By the 1930s, the residents were chiefly Italians, Jewish, Germans, and Russians who moved in from Brownsville, Bushwick, and other near-by crowded localities. Many of the Slavic families continue to burn candles before icons, and observe religious fetes according to the old calendar...

After World War II, thousands of manufacturing jobs left New York City thereby increasing the importance of the remaining jobs to those with limited education and job skills. During this same period, large numbers of Puerto Ricans and African-Americans emigrated to New York City looking for employment. East New York, no longer replete with the jobs the new residents had come for, was thereby faced with a host of new socioeconomic problems, including widespread unemployment and crime.

Social problems[edit]

Since the late 1950's East New York has the highest crime rates in Brooklyn, and is the Borough's murder capital. 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.[5] East New York's 75th Police District reported the highest murder rate in the city in 2011, according to crime reports compiled by DNAinfo.com. East New York has significantly higher dropout rates and incidents of violence in its schools.[6] 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.[citation needed]

Ghetto[edit]

Some of the abandoned houses in East New York.

Walter Thabit, a city planner for East New York, chronicled in his book, How East New York Became a Ghetto, the change in population from mostly working class Italians and Jewish residents to residents of Puerto Rican and African American descent. Thabit argues that landlords and real estate agents played a significant role in the downturn of the area. Puerto Ricans were moving in masses to New York City in the late 1950s, at a time when unemployment rates in Puerto Rico soared to 25 percent, and left Puerto Rico on the brink of poverty.

Thabit also describes how the construction of public housing projects in East New York further contributed to its decline, noting that many of the developments were built by corrupt managers and contractors. He argues that the city government largely ignored the community when it could have helped turn it around.

Writing in the New York Press, Michael Manville accused Thabit of poor research, sweeping generalizations, and a failure to distinguish the actions of racist individuals from the effects of a racist capitalist system, and contends that much of the urban renewal and public housing efforts of the period were in fact well-intentioned, if ill-considered and hubristic.[7]

Renewal[edit]

New subsidized single-family homes being built under the Nehemiah program.

New developments are rising in the area, including the Gateway Center shopping mall[8] located on what was once part of a landfill near Jamaica Bay. The Gateway, in Starrett City near East New York is suburban-style, and is home to retailers that include Bed Bath & Beyond, Staples, Marshalls, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Boulder Creek Steakhouse, Target, The Home Depot, and BJ's Wholesale Club. The development was welcomed by many in the neighborhood for the jobs it would provide and is frequented by people from all over Southern Queens and Southern Brooklyn, bringing business into the neighborhood. Unfortunately, that promise has been elusive, as the low-wage, high turnover positions which comprise the majority of jobs there do little to generate higher wealth in the community. With the expansion of the Gateway Center mall more retail business are moving here. In addition new businesses are thriving mostly along New Lots Avenue.

75th Precinct NYPD

Urban renewal[edit]

East New York was devastated by "blockbusting" in the course of an FHA Mortgage scandal that left the neighborhood virtually abandoned, a wasteland by the early 70s. A Federal Court ordered that an Environmental Impact Statement be prepared for East New York and through that EIS done by the Brooklyn Office of the New York City Department of City Planning, the history of the FHA Mortgage Scandal and its unfolding in East New York was documented.

The EIS found that what happened in East New York and inner City communities across America was a result of the FHA's inability to respond to its new mandate to include inner city neighborhoods in the FHA single family mortgage insurance program. The FHA was created to build the suburbs of America and all of its policies, underwriting standards, appraisal standards were built from and geared to newly constructed suburban homes. The agency apparently interpreted its mandate to now produce specific target volumes of inner city loans as a directive to abandon its underwriting and appraisal and produce as many inner city loans as possible to mostly black first-time homeowners. Block by block unscrupulous mortgage originators scared the elderly Jewish homeowners in these tiny modest one family homes into selling below market for fear their homes would be worth nothing at all as the blacks moved in, displaced by clearance for urban renewal in neighboring Brownsville. These same blockbusting brokers then resold these homes at greatly inflated prices to first-time black homeowners who believed their American dream had come true. The brokers provided fraudulent documentation on the loans which were all beyond the ability of the new homeowners to pay given their modest incomes. Very quickly the neighborhood went from 100% elderly Jewish to 100% black & Hispanic and soon afterward the new homeowners were behind on mortgage payments and losing their homes to foreclosure. When the Brooklyn Office of City Planning began its court-mandated EIS East New York was a wasteland, row after row of vacant homes in poor condition and a central 4 or 6 block area of vacant land where houses had once stood.

The court directive to prepare the EIS on East New York required recommendations as well as findings. The recommendations were then expanded into a Master Plan For East New York which included the entire Community Planning Board. Simultaneously the Brooklyn office developed a more specific plan for the rehabilitation and resale of the FHA foreclosure to qualified low income buyers. The plan was to rehabilitate these homes through non-profit community sponsors and resell them at affordable prices to pre-qualified low income homeowners. The program was called SHIP (Small Home Improvement Program). A $1 million loan pool commitment was secured from the East New York Savings Bank for the SHIP program. The program was then turned over to the City's Housing agency for implementation and administration.

The SHIP program was modeled on a program developed the Sunset Park Redevelopment Committee then operating in Sunset Park with funding from the Ford Foundation. The Ford Foundation was also funding other pioneering innovative housing programs, including in nearby Bedford-Stuyvesant through the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. SHIP was the first effort at low income home ownership by the City of New York and ran into some initial difficulties due to limitations in the State constitution on "gifts and loans" (The discounted sales price to new homeowners was considered "a gift"). At least the first 100 houses were eventually renovated under the program before it was abandoned.

Later most of these 1000 FHA foreclosed were torn down and replaced with new construction and much later some privately financed infill housing.Also many subsidized multi-unit townhouses and newly constructed apartment buildings have been or are being built on vacant lots across the neighborhood. It is important to note that because of the restrictions placed by the rent-stabilization code on many of the redeveloped multi-family buildings, a significant number of these properties have fallen into disrepair and are at risk of landlord abandonment.

In 2006 Mayor Bloomberg announced a Nehemiah Program of new town houses in the southern part of East New York also targeted to low and middle income homeowners. The East Brooklyn Clergy, sponsors of Nehemiah Housing, have always been a strong effective voice for reclamation of Brownsville, Bedford-Stuyvesant.

The United Homes Scandal which broke in the summer of 2011 with a $1 million award to victimized homeowners was a repeat of the original FHA Mortgage Scandal. While mostly focused in other East Brooklyn communities, homeowners in East New York who have now won the support and attention of Occupy Housing were most likely also victims of United Housing (http://www.nycommunities.org/node/1133._)

Transportation[edit]

East New York is well-served by public transportation, including some of these subway and bus services:

Police patrol[edit]

Originally the 17 precinct was located on Liberty Avenue from 1892 to 1970s. East New York is patrolled by the NYPD's 75th Precinct and the Brooklyn North Task Force, as well as Transit District 33 and Police Service Area 2.[9]

Education[edit]

All areas of New York City are within the New York City Department of Education school district. East New York high schools suffer from high dropout rates. As with many NYC schools, gang violence is a common problem found in the local schools. East New York has two higher institutes such as toro college and ber hagolah institute in starrett city. Spring Creek High School open in 2012 becoming the fifth high school in 60 years and the first in the spring creek area.

School closed and reorganized[edit]

One of the neighborhood's local public high schools, Thomas Jefferson High School, shut down in June 2007 due to extremely low academic performance: a graduation rate of 29%, with only 2% entering the school at grade level in math and 10% entering at grade level in reading). The school was known for its ROTC program. Four new high schools were organized in the old building.[10]

In popular culture[edit]

  • The dilapidated homes and streetscapes served as the fictional setting for the film Death Wish 3.
  • Urban street DVD 2005 East of New York.
  • Michael C. Martin's script for the film Brooklyn's Finest originally took place primarily in the Louis H. Pink Houses, which were near where the writer and a couple of his friends grew up.

Notable residents[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brooklyn Community Boards, New York City. Accessed April 2, 2008.
  2. ^ Brooklyn Community District 5
  3. ^ NYCHA locations in East New York
  4. ^ Sheftell, Jason (July 27, 2012). "Spring Creek Nehemiah is an affordable housing success story in East New York". New York Daily News. Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  5. ^ "73rd Precinct CompStat Report" (PDF). Retrieved January 24, 2011. 
  6. ^ "NYC Dropout Rates". Gothamgazette.com. March 20, 2006. Retrieved January 24, 2011. 
  7. ^ Look Back in Anger: An urban scholar lets fly., New York Press, Volume 16, Issue 34
  8. ^ Siwolop, Sana (May 16, 2001). "A Mall Planned for East New York Is 88% Leased". The New York Times. Retrieved August 27, 2010. 
  9. ^ 75th Precinct, NYPD.
  10. ^ H.S. 435 Thomas Jefferson High School profile, accessed December 4, 2006
  11. ^ http://www.vindigi.com

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°40′00″N 73°52′56″W / 40.66667°N 73.88222°W / 40.66667; -73.88222