Downtown Brooklyn

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Skyline of Downtown Brooklyn seen from the East River
The Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower is a prominent symbol of Downtown.

Downtown Brooklyn is the third largest central business district in New York City (following Midtown Manhattan and Lower Manhattan) and is located in the northwestern section of the borough of Brooklyn. The neighborhood is known for its office and residential buildings, including the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower and the MetroTech Center office complex, that give the area its own unique skyline. Since the rezoning of Downtown Brooklyn in 2004, the area is undergoing a transformation, with $9 billion of private investment and $300 million in public improvements underway.

Contents

History

Adams Street/Brooklyn Bridge Boulevard is a major corridor through Downtown Brooklyn

This area was inhabited by Lenape Native Americans, until the 1600s. At that time the Dutch arrived, gained control of the land, and called it Breuckelen. Until 1814, Downtown Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights remained sparsely populated. Robert Fulton’s new steam ferry then began to offer an easy commuting option to and from downtown Manhattan. It made Brooklyn Heights Manhattan’s first suburb and sent Downtown Brooklyn on its way to becoming a commercial center and the heart of the City of Brooklyn.

The city was home to many prominent Abolitionists at a time when most of New York was indifferent to slavery. Many Brooklyn churches agitated against legalized slavery in the 1850s and 1860s, and some acted as safehouses as part of the Underground Railroad movement. When Walt Whitman lived near Willoughby and Myrtle, he was fired from his job as a reporter at the Brooklyn Eagle due to his support for the Wilmot Proviso, which would have banned slavery in future acquistions.

The middle 19th-century growth of the Port of New York caused shipping to spill over into the City of Brooklyn; many warehouses and factories that were built are now used for other purposes. Manufacturing intensified with the building of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges; buildings of that time include the 1915 Sperry Gyroscope Company building, now known as the Howard Building of CUNY.[1] New, extensive infrastructure served the Brooklyn Bridge trolleys.

Downtown Brooklyn as viewed from the Staten Island Ferry, May 2008

Following the Second World War, the City Planning Commission, in conjunction with the borough president’s office, presented and adopted a Master Plan for the Civic Center, which included an ambitious public improvements program. The program included plans for new buildings for city and state agencies, significant street widening and major housing construction in adjacent areas. A study conducted eight years later highlighted the progress made, emphasizing the widening of Adams Street (and later Boerum Place), which created a long and sweeping approach to Downtown Brooklyn from a modernized Brooklyn Bridge.

By the late 1960s, the patterns of transition that affected much of urban America initiated concern to protect the borough’s Central Business District from deterioration. In 1969, a comprehensive plan for the entire city was completed, and in the report the City Planning Commission stated “[Downtown Brooklyn’s] economy is vital to the borough and important to the entire metropolitan region.” In re-affirming Downtown Brooklyn’s central role and identifying its problems, the Plan was optimistic that a combination of public and private efforts would stimulate office and commercial construction. A 23-story privately financed office tower at Boerum Place and Livingston Street opened in 1971, and the anticipated growth of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) succeeded far beyond expectations, giving the cultural institution an important role as a symbolic anchor amid increasing decay during the following decade.

After Brooklyn suffered with the rest of New York through the fiscal crisis of the mid-1970s, Borough President Howard Golden, elected in 1977, moved forward with a more aggressive economic development program to revitalize Downtown Brooklyn. He identified the need for greater equity in resource allocation between Manhattan and the city’s other boroughs. An important moment in the history of Downtown Brooklyn came in 1983 with the release of a Regional Plan Association report for the area. According to the document, Downtown Brooklyn could become the city’s third-largest business district because of its proximity to Lower Manhattan (closer by subway than is Midtown). It also could serve as a prime location for high technology industries and new market-rate housing.

Panoramic view of the Downtown Brooklyn skyline.

MetroTech Center

MetroTech Center is a business and educational center, lying between Flatbush Avenue and Jay Street, north of the Fulton Street Mall and south of the busy Tillary Street.

Neighborhood Amenities

Brooklyn Borough Hall with holiday lighting

Downtown Brooklyn is the civic and commercial downtown center of the former City of Brooklyn, now a borough of 2.5 million people. The area includes MetroTech Center, Brooklyn Borough Hall, the Kings County New York State courthouse, and the central courthouse for the Federal Eastern District of New York. Schools include Brooklyn Friends School, St. Francis College, St. Joseph's College, Brooklyn Law School, Polytechnic Institute of New York University, New York City College of Technology, and Long Island University. Attractions within the area include the Fulton Mall, Brooklyn Academy of Music and the New York Transit Museum.

Three days a week the Borough Hall Greenmarket, featuring fresh produce from local farmers, operates on the plaza fronting Borough Hall. Formerly called Supreme Court Plaza, the location was renamed as Columbus Park in 1986 and sycamore trees having grown large enough to shield the mid-20th-century Supreme Court building.[citation needed]

Cadman Plaza Park, named for an early televangelist, provides 10 acres (40,000 m2) of green space in the neighborhood and was recently renovated by the New York City Parks Department. These and other parks form a long mall from Borough Hall to Brooklyn Bridge. A new park known as the Willoughby Square Park is planned for the area.[2][3]

Government

General Post Office and Federal Office Building (NRHP)
Federal courthouse, Tillary Street

Federal representation

The United States Postal Service operates the Brooklyn Main Post Office at 271 Cadman Plaza East in Downtown Brooklyn.[4]

Transportation

Downtown Brooklyn is connected with Manhattan by the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.

The neighborhood has extensive public transportation. The Long Island Rail Road stops at Atlantic Terminal, located at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues. The neighborhood is served by the New York City subway and many bus lines. Every Manhattan trunk line in lower Manhattan runs to Downtown Brooklyn via the Joralemon Street Tunnel (Template:NYCS Lexington Brooklyn trains), Montague Street Tunnel (Template:NYCS Montague trains), Clark Street Tunnel (Template:NYCS Broadway-Seventh Brooklyn trains) and Cranberry Street Tunnel (Template:NYCS Cranberry trains). Slightly farther north, the Manhattan Bridge (Template:NYCS Manhattan Bridge trains) and the Rutgers Street Tunnel (Template:NYCS Sixth Rutgers train) also feed subway trains into Manhattan, but these lines don't connect directly to the Financial District. Major subway stations in the neighborhood are DeKalb Avenue (Template:NYCS DeKalb), Hoyt–Schermerhorn Streets (Template:NYCS Hoyt-Schermerhorn), Nevins Street (Template:NYCS Eastern west), Atlantic Avenue – Pacific Street (Template:NYCS Atlantic-Pacific), and the new combination Jay Street – Borough Hall (Template:NYCS Jay Street) and Court Street – Borough Hall (Template:NYCS Court-Borough).

At the end of 2010, a $130 million capital project to connect the Lawrence Street station (Template:NYCS Montague trains) and the Jay Street–Borough Hall station (Template:NYCS Jay Street trains) was completed. Both stations were renamed Jay Street / MetroTech. An underground corridor connects them, and there is new escalator access between the IND and BMT trains. The project included renovating the Jay Street station.[5]

Residential Development

On the streets of Downtown Brooklyn

Historically, Downtown Brooklyn has been primarily a commercial and civic center, with relatively little residential development. Housing included a few apartment buildings on Livingston Street and seven 15-story buildings that make up the more-than-1,000-units Concord Village co-op development on Adams Street, at the border of Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO.

Since the rezoning of parts of Downtown Brooklyn in 2004 to allow for denser residential development, the area has seen the arrival of condominium towers, townhouses and office conversions. In all, 14,000 residential units are planned for Downtown Brooklyn.[5] A New York Sun article in November 7, 2007, reported on the arrival of Downtown Brooklyn as a 24/7 community, estimating that 35,000 residents will come to the area within five years.[6] In January 2008, residents started moving into the new residential buildings, according to another New York Sun article.[7]

As with many rezonings, interest groups have expressed various feelings about ongoing development in Downtown Brooklyn. Some longtime residents have stated that an already thriving community is being displaced with higher rents as new developments rise. Others say that there have been improvements in the cleanliness and safety of the neighborhood since the rezoning.

Proposals

Downtown Brooklyn

The New York City Department of City Planning has approved a significant rezoning for portions of Downtown Brooklyn, including the Fulton Mall area, which may result in significant expansion of office space and ground-floor retail. The rezoning consists of "zoning map and zoning text changes, new public open spaces, pedestrian and transit improvements, urban renewal, [and] street mappings."[8] The City Planning initiative also seeks to improve the connections between Downtown and the adjacent neighborhoods of Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill and Fort Greene. Construction is under way for the Atlantic Yards arena in nearby Prospect Heights; the NBA professional basketball team New Jersey Nets will relocate there.

Adjacent Brooklyn Neighborhoods

</td> <tr> <td width = 10% align="center">West:Brooklyn Heights</td> <td width = 35% align="center">Downtown Brooklyn</td> <td width = 30% align="center">East:Fort Greene </td> <tr><td width = 35% align="center"> Southwest:Cobble Hill</td> <td width = 30% align="center">South:Boerum Hill</td> <td width = 30% align="center">Southeast:Park Slope</td> </table>

Maps of Downtown Brooklyn

Northwest: Fulton Ferry North: DUMBO, Brooklyn Northeast: Vinegar Hill

References

  1. New York Times, June 1915 Sperry Gyroscope building on Flatbush Avenue Extension
  2. Calder, Rich (August 15, 2007). "Double 'Park'ing". New York Post. http://www.nypost.com/seven/08152007/news/regionalnews/double_parking_regionalnews_rich_calder.htm. Retrieved August 22, 2009. 
  3. "Help Design Willoughby Square Park". Brownstoner.com. April 19, 2010. http://www.brownstoner.com/brownstoner/archives/2010/04/help_design_wil.php. Retrieved April 20, 2010. 
  4. "NYC Post Offices to observe Presidents Day." United States Postal Service. February 11, 2009. Retrieved on May 5, 2009.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Downtown Brooklyn Partnership
  6. Stoler, Michael (November 8, 2007). "Downtown Brooklyn Finally Arrives". New York Sun. http://www.nysun.com/real-estate/downtown-brooklyn-finally-arrives/66134/. Retrieved August 22, 2009. 
  7. Hope, Bradley (January 24, 2008). "First Residents Arrive for Downtown Brooklyn 'Renaissance'". New York Sun. http://www.nysun.com/real-estate/first-residents-arrive-for-downtown-brooklyn/70102/. Retrieved August 22, 2009. 
  8. Downtown Brooklyn, New York City Department of City Planning. Accessed October 9, 2007.

External links

Schools

Others

Template:Brooklynes:Downtown Brooklyn he:דאונטאון ברוקלין

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