East New York, Brooklyn

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East New York
Typical multi-unit semi-detached rowhouses in East New York
Typical multi-unit semi-detached rowhouses in East New York
EastNY, East Brooklyn
Location in New York City
Coordinates: 40°40′N 73°53′W / 40.67°N 73.89°W / 40.67; -73.89Coordinates: 40°40′N 73°53′W / 40.67°N 73.89°W / 40.67; -73.89
Country United States
State New York
City New York City
Borough Brooklyn
Community DistrictBrooklyn 5[1]
 • Total4.84 km2 (1.867 sq mi)
 • Total91,958 (183,000 with the subsections)
 • Black63.6%
 • Hispanic29.6
 • Asian3.0
 • White1.3
 • Other2.5
 • Median income$36,786
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
11207, 11208, 11239
Area codes718, 347, 929, and 917

East New York is a residential neighborhood in the eastern section of the borough of Brooklyn in New York City, United States. Its boundaries, starting from the north and moving clockwise, are roughly the Cemetery Belt and the Queens borough line to the north; the Queens borough line to the east; Jamaica Bay to the south, and the Bay Ridge Branch railroad tracks and Van Sinderen Avenue to the west. Linden Boulevard, Pennsylvania Avenue, and Atlantic Avenue are the primary thoroughfares through East New York.

East New York was founded as the Town of New Lots in the 1650s. It was annexed as the 26th Ward of the rapidly growing City of Brooklyn in 1886, and became part of New York City in 1898. During the latter part of the twentieth century, East New York came to be predominantly inhabited by African Americans and Latinos.

East New York is part of Brooklyn Community District 5, and its primary ZIP Codes are 11207, 11208, and 11239.[1] It is patrolled by the 75th Precinct of the New York City Police Department.[4] New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) property in the area is patrolled by P.S.A. 2. Politically it is represented by the New York City Council's 37th and 42nd Districts.[5]


Early history and development[edit]

At the northern edge of what is now East New York, 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. The southern portions of the neighborhood, meanwhile, consisted of salt marshes and several creeks, which drained into Jamaica Bay. These areas were originally settled by the Jameco Native Americans, and later used by the Canarsee and Rockaway tribes as fishing grounds.[6]: Vol 1, p. 7.4[7][8][9]

In the 1650s Dutch colonists began settling in what are now the eastern sections of Brooklyn, forming the towns of Flatbush, Bushwick, and New Lots (the predecessor of East New York).[6]: Vol 1, p. 7.4[10] The area along with the rest of Brooklyn and modern New York City was ceded to the British Empire in 1664. A few 18th-century roads, including the ferry road or Palmer Turnpike from Brooklyn to Jamaica, passed through the chain of hills; hence the area was called "Jamaica Pass".[11] During the American Revolutionary War invading British and Hessian (German) soldiers ended an all-night forced 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 (also known as the Battle of Brooklyn or the Battle of Brooklyn Heights).[10][11]

In 1835, Connecticut merchant John Pitkin (the namesake of Pitkin Avenue) purchased the land of the Town of New Lots north of New Lots Avenue, opening a shoe factory at what is now Williams Street and Pitkin Avenue. Pitkin named the area "East New York" to signify it as the eastern end of New York City.[11] In 1836 the Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad (soon to become part of the Long Island Rail Road) opened through the area; it did not originally stop in East New York, but a stop there was added by 1844.[12] The LIRR moved its terminus to Queens in 1860, and the line through Brooklyn was shortened to end at East New York.[13]

In 1852, New Lots was officially ceded from the Town of Flatbush.[9][10] In the middle 19th century, the road between Brooklyn and Jamaica became the Brooklyn and Jamaica Plank Road. The Brooklyn and Rockaway Beach Railroad (1865) was built to connect the LIRR's Atlantic Branch with Canarsie at a point later known as Broadway Junction. As often happened at 19th-century railroad junctions, a railway town arose. Sprawling development into the 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.

Annexation to Brooklyn and 20th century[edit]

East New York (as the Town of New Lots) was annexed as the 26th Ward of the rapidly growing City of Brooklyn in 1886; in 1898 after a decade-long controversy with debates, campaigns and publicity, the community was merged into New York City as a whole with the consolidation of Brooklyn and the other four boroughs into a single entity as the "City of Greater New York". In the 20th century its name came to be applied to much of the former township.[10]

In 1939, the Works Progress Administration Guide to New York City[14] 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, Jews, 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 from the Caribbean island and African-Americans from the South 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]

Abandoned houses in East New York

Since the late 1950s East New York has had some of the highest crime rates in Brooklyn, and is considered by some to be the borough's murder capital, alongside Brownsville. Many social problems associated with poverty from crime to drug addiction have been prevalent in the area for decades. Despite the decline of crime compared to their peaks during the crack and heroin epidemics, violent crime continues to be widespread in the community.[15] East New York's 75th Police Precinct 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 incidences of violence in its schools.[16] Students must pass through metal detectors and swipe ID cards to enter the buildings. Other problems in local schools include low test scores and high truancy rates.[citation needed]

Walter Thabit, a city planner for East New York, chronicled in his 2003 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.[17] Thabit argues that landlords and real estate agents played a significant role in the downturn of the area. Puerto Ricans were moving en masse 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 allegedly racist individuals from the effects of what he describes as "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.[18]

Urban renewal[edit]

In the 1980s East Brooklyn Congregations (EBC), an affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) organized to address the need for quality affordable housing in East New York. This coalition advocated that vacant New York City owned land be provided at no cost for the development of new affordable owner occupied housing with subsidies for low-interest mortgages.[19][20][21] This effort was called the Nehemiah Program. It was replicated in other parts of the city and country and led to national legislation.[19] The Nehemiah homes were funded by a loan from $8 million loan fund from three Brooklyn Churches. Its setup was described as follows by The New York Times the city provides vacant sites, forgives real-estate taxes on the homes (but not the land) for 10 years, and provides what amounts to a $10,000 interest-free loan per house. Buyers pay $43,500 (their median income was $27,000; 40 percent moved from public or subsidized housing)."[19][20][21]

New developments are rising in the area, including the Gateway Center shopping mall located on what was once part of a landfill near Jamaica Bay. Gateway Center, in Starrett City, is a suburban-style shopping complex with multiple large stores.[22] Gateway Center consists of two structures. Gateway Center South, the first structure, opened in 2002,[23] and Gateway Center North, the second development, opened in 2014.[24]


Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of East New York was 91,958, an increase of 8,683 (10.4%) from the 83,275 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 2,665.73 acres (1,078.78 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 34.5 inhabitants per acre (22,100/sq mi; 8,500/km2).[2]

The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 63.6% (58,453) African American, 3.0% (2,764) Asian, 1.3% (1,240) White, 0.3% (291) Native American, 0.0% (38) Pacific Islander, 0.7% (683) from other races, and 1.3% (1,237) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 29.6% (27,252) of the population.[3]

The entirety of Community Board 5 had 181,300 inhabitants as of NYC Health's 2018 Community Health Profile, with an average life expectancy of 78.6 years.[25]: 2, 20 This is lower than the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods.[26]: 53 (PDF p. 84)[27] Most inhabitants are middle-aged adults and youth: 27% are between the ages of 0–17, 28% between 25–44, and 34% between 45–64. The ratio of college-aged and elderly residents was lower, at 10% and 12% respectively.[25]: 2

As of 2016, the median household income in Community Board 5 was $36,786.[28] In 2018, an estimated 30% of East New York residents lived in poverty, compared to 21% in all of Brooklyn and 20% in all of New York City. One in ten residents (10%) were unemployed, compared to 9% in the rest of both Brooklyn and New York City. Rent burden, or the percentage of residents who have difficulty paying their rent, is 52% in East New York, higher than the citywide and boroughwide rates of 52% and 51% respectively. Based on this calculation, as of 2018, East New York is considered to be low-income relative to the rest of the city and not gentrifying.[25]: 7

During the 1960s, East New York transitioned from being predominately Jewish and Italian to being predominately African American and Puerto Rican. However, now East New York is more diversified, with large African American, Puerto Rican, Dominican, West Indian, and South Asian populations.[29] Due to gentrification of other Brooklyn neighborhoods, closer to Downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan, such as Bushwick and Bed-Stuy, East New York now has one of the fastest growing Black and Latino populations in the city.


East New York covers a relatively large area, abutting the Queens border to the north and east. North of East New York is Highland Park, the Cemetery Belt, and the neighborhoods of Ridgewood and Glendale in Queens. The neighborhoods of Bushwick and Bedford–Stuyvesant are northwest of East New York, while Brownsville is to the west and Canarsie is to the southwest. Jamaica Bay and the Shirley Chisholm State Park are located on the southern shore, while Woodhaven, Ozone Park, and Howard Beach in Queens are located to the east.

Boundaries of East New York

Land use[edit]

East New York consists of mixed properties but primarily semi-detached homes, two-to-four family houses, and multi-unit apartment buildings, including condominiums and co-ops. The total land area is one square mile.

The area is also home to the East Brooklyn Industrial Park. The 44-block industrial park was established in 1980 by the New York City Public Development Corporation in East New York's northwest quadrant. It is bounded by Atlantic Avenue, Sheffield Avenue, Sutter Avenue and Powell Street.

Public housing developments of various type and a smaller number of tenements populate the area. There are eleven New York City Housing Authority developments located in East New York.[30]

  • Boulevard Houses was the first of 11 developments to be built in the area. Built in 1950, 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.

With the founding of East New York Farms in 1998, there has been an increase usage in lots. Various organizations and local community groups have different gardens in order to beautify the area.[31]

African Burial Ground Square was designated in 2013 after remains were found some years earlier between New Lots and Livonia Avenues from Barbey to Schenck Streets. It shares space with the New Lots branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.[32] After months of effort, the burial ground was finally confirmed and formally recognized.[33]


City Line[edit]

Liberty Avenue in City Line

City Line is a sub-section of East New York bordering the neighborhoods of Cypress Hills to the north and southwest and Ozone Park (Queens) to the east. The neighborhood is named "City Line" for its location in the former City of Brooklyn near the border with Queens County before Brooklyn and parts of Queens County were consolidated into New York City in 1898.[34] Many Italians, Germans and Irish originally lived in the area, which today is home to immigrants from Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, and Puerto Rico.[35] The neighborhood also includes African-Americans and Latino-Americans, and a scattered presence of South Asian-Americans.[36][37] The main commercial district is located along Liberty Avenue. City Line is home to many restaurants, shopping stores, and food markets.

New Lots[edit]

New Lots Community Church

New Lots is a sub-section of East New York. The "New Lots" east of the Town of Flatbush were laid out in the 18th century and were considered to be an eastward extension of Flatbush. The area was the site of the Town Hall of New Lots (located at 109-111 Bradford Street[38]) from 1852 when the area seceded from Flatbush until it was annexed in 1886 as the 26th Ward of Brooklyn. The population is largely African-American and Latino-American. IS 218, PS 72 and Invictus Preparatory Charter School are right across from the public houses.[39][10][40]

Spring Creek[edit]

Spring Creek is the southeastern part of the former Town of New Lots, and is often included in East New York.[11] Its boundaries moving clockwise are: Linden Boulevard to the north; Betts Creek and Fountain Avenue to the east; Gateway National Recreation Area to the south; and Schenck Avenue and Hendrix Creek to the west.[39] Some locations north of this area up to Linden Boulevard are also considered part of the neighborhood. Spring Creek includes the Starrett City apartment complex, the Gateway Center, the Spring Creek Gardens gated housing development, and the Nehemiah Spring Creek and Gateway Elton affordable housing developments.[41]

Cypress Hills[edit]

Rowhouses in Cypress Hills

Cypress Hills, a subsection of East New York,[42] is bordered on the south by City Line; to the north by Cypress Hills Cemetery; to the west by Bushwick; and to the east Woodhaven and Ozone Park in Queens. Cypress Hills is bordered by Highland Park Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue on the north, Eldert Lane on the east, Linden Boulevard on the south, and Pennsylvania Ave on the west.[43] The Cypress Hills and Arlington branches of the Brooklyn Public Library serve this community. This neighborhood is demographically mixed with Dominican-Americans, Stateside Puerto Ricans, South Asian-Americans, Caribbean Americans, Caucasians and African Americans.[44][45] The Hispanic or Latino population were 60.9%.

Area schools include:

  • Franklin K. Lane High School was at the extreme northeast corner of the neighborhood, north of Jamaica Avenue; it closed in 2011.
  • P.S. 108 Sal Abbracciamento School is at 200 Linwood Street (on the corner of Arlington).[46] It is a public elementary school with an enrollment of about 900 students in grades pre-K through 5.[47] Its building dates to 1895 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Blessed Sacrament Elementary School is on Euclid Avenue, between Fulton Street and Ridgewood Avenue.
  • Saint Fortunata is located on Linden Boulevard and Crescent Avenue.
  • IS 171 is on Ridgewood Avenue between Nichols Avenue and Lincoln Avenue.
  • IS 302 is also a public school, on Linwood Street between Atlantic Avenue and Liberty Avenue.
  • Within IS 302, due to lack of funding, there used to be a public school ranging from grades K (kindergarten) to 8th grade, P.S. 89 (aka Cypress Hills Community School) which has since attained its own school building not far from IS 302 on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Warwick Street.
  • PS 7 sits between Crescent Street and Hemlock Street.
  • PS 65 "The Little Red School House" serves 549 students in grades K–5.
  • PS 290 sits on the corner of Fulton St. and Schenck Ave.
  • Followers of Jesus School is a private Christian school that sits on Atlantic Ave, between Shepherd Ave and Essex Street.

Starrett City[edit]

Fresh Creek Basin, with Starrett City in the background

Starrett City (also known as Spring Creek Towers) is the largest subsidized rental apartment complex in the United States.[48] 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. Opened in 1974,[49][50] the Starrett City site spanned over 153 acres (0.62 km2) before being subdivided in 2009 as part of a refinancing. The housing development contains 5,881 apartment units in 46 buildings.[51] The residential site also includes eight parking garages and a community center.[6]: 2–3[52] The area contains a shopping center as well.[53] A number of parcels of undeveloped land totaling 13 acres (5.3 ha) were separated out from the residential site as part of the refinancing.[54]

The development was designed by Herman Jessor, organized in the towers in the park layout. The buildings utilize a simple "foursquare" design.[48][55]: 56[56] The residential portion of the property has eight "sections" each including several buildings, its own field, recreational area (jungle gym, park, handball court, basketball court) and a five-story parking garage for residents in that section.[52] These sections are Ardsley, Bethel, Croton, Delmar, Elmira, Freeport, Geneva, and Hornell; each named after municipalities in New York State.[57] The community had its own newspaper, known as the Spring Creek Sun.[58]

The Hole[edit]

The Hole is an isolated section that is also a part of Queens.[59] A run-down neighborhood considered "lost", it has the lowest elevation within the city[60] and is considered to be like the Wild West in some fashions.[61] It is generally bordered by Ruby Street, South Conduit Avenue, and Linden Boulevard.

The area is home to the Federation of Black Cowboys.[62][63]

Police and crime[edit]

75th Precinct of the NYPD

East New York is patrolled by the 75th Precinct of the NYPD located at 1000 Sutter ave. Areas operated by the New York City Housing Authority are patrolled by Police Service Area 2 located at 560 Sutter ave.[4]

Fire safety[edit]

The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) operates four fire stations and one EMS station in East New York.[64]

Post offices and ZIP Codes[edit]

The majority of East New York is covered by ZIP Codes 11207 and 11208, though Starrett City is covered by its own zip code, 11239.[65] The United States Post Office operates the East New York Station at 2645 Atlantic Avenue and the Spring Creek Station at 1310 Pennsylvania Avenue.[66]


East New York generally has a lower ratio of college-educated residents than the rest of the city as of 2018. While 21% of residents age 25 and older have a college education or higher, 23% have less than a high school education and 56% are high school graduates or have some college education. By contrast, 40% of Brooklynites and 38% of city residents have a college education or higher.[25]: 6 The percentage of East New York students excelling in reading and math has been increasing, with reading achievement rising from 26 percent in 2000 to 32 percent in 2011, and math achievement rising from 19 percent to 43 percent within the same time period.[67]

East New York's rate of elementary school student absenteeism is higher than the rest of New York City. In East New York, 31% of elementary school students missed twenty or more days per school year, compared to the citywide average of 20% of students.[26]: 24 (PDF p. 55)[25]: 6 Additionally, 68% of high school students in East New York graduate on time, lower than the citywide average of 75% of students.[25]: 6


The New York City Department of Education operates public schools in the area. East New York high schools suffer from high dropout rates. As with other New York City schools, gang violence is a common problem. East New York has two higher institutes, Touro College and Be'er Hagolah Institute in Starrett City. Spring Creek High School opened in 2012, becoming the fifth high school in 60 years and the first in the Spring Creek area.

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.[68]


The Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) has four branches in East New York:

  • The Arlington branch at 203 Arlington Avenue near Warwick Street, a Carnegie library.[69]
  • The Cypress Hills branch at 1197 Sutter Avenue near Crystal Street. It was founded in 1955 and the current building opened in 1995.[70]
  • The New Lots branch and New Lots Learning Center at 665 New Lots Avenue near Barbey Street. It was founded in 1942 and became a BPL branch in 1949.[71]
  • The Spring Creek branch at 12143 Flatlands Avenue near New Jersey Avenue, which opened in 1977.[72]


East New York is well-served by public transportation, including these New York City Subway services:

The following MTA Regional Bus Operations routes serve the neighborhood:

In addition, the neighborhood contains the East New York station on the Long Island Rail Road's Atlantic Branch. The New York City Subway's East New York Yard, Livonia Yard, and Pitkin Yard, as well as New York City Bus's East New York Bus Depot and Spring Creek Bus Depot, are all in the neighborhood, but none of these are open to the public. The freight-only Bay Ridge Branch demarcates the western border of East New York.

Notable residents[edit]

See also[edit]


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  3. ^ a b Table PL-P3A NTA: Total Population by Mutually Exclusive Race and Hispanic Origin - New York City Neighborhood Tabulation Areas*, 2010, Population Division - New York City Department of City Planning, March 29, 2011. Accessed June 14, 2016.
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