East New York, Brooklyn

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

East New York (also referred to as "E.N.Y." and The East) is a residential neighborhood located in eastern Brooklyn, a borough of New York City. The neighborhood is in Brooklyn Community Board 5.[1] Its boundaries are Cypress Hills Cemetery to the north, the Borough of Queens to the east, Jamaica Bay to the south and the railway tracks next to Van Sinderen Avenue to the west. Linden Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue are the primary thoroughfares. ZIP codes include 11207, 11208 and 11239. The area is served by the NYPD's 75th Precinct, located at 1000 Sutter Avenue. New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) property in the area is patrolled by Police Service Area (PSA) 2. During the 20th century, East New York came to be a commuter town predominantly inhabited by African-Americans and Hispanics. Violent crime is a problem in the community; in many years East New York led New York City in murders, which reached a record 129 in 1993.

Contents

Demographics

East New York has a population around 90,000. 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 population. The vast majority of households are renter occupied.[2]

Media

East New York is home of Black Circle News, a print and online media outlet that serves diverse cultures, educating and informing Brooklyn working-class communities as a means to adding and upgrading the quality of life.

Land Use

East New York is dominated by semi-detached multi-unit rowhouses similar to those found in Brownsville and Soundview(Bronx), many of which have been torn down and replaced by vacant lots or newly constructed subsidized attached multi-unit rowhouses. The area is also home to the East Brooklyn Industrial Park (see below). There are also public housing developments of various types and a smaller number of tenements in the area. The total land area is one square mile.

East Brooklyn Industrial Park

In 1980, the 44-block 70-acre East Brooklyn Industrial Park was established by the New York City Public Development Corporation in the northwest quadrant of East New York, bounded by Atlantic Avenue, Sheffield Avenue, Sutter Avenue and Powell Street.

Public Housing Projects

  • There are 12 New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments in East New York.[3]
  1. Belmont-Sutter Area; three three-story buildings.
  2. Boulevard Houses; 18 buildings, 6 and 14 stories tall.
  3. Cypress Hills Houses; 15 seven-story buildings.
  4. East New York City Line; 33 three-story buildings.
  5. Fiorentino Plaza; 8 four-story buildings.
  6. Linden Houses; 19 buildings, 8 and 14 stories.
  7. Long Island Baptist Houses; 4 six-story rehabilitated tenement buildings.
  8. Pennsylvania Avenue-Wortman Avenue; 3 buildings, 8 and 16 stories.
  9. Louis Heaton Pink Houses; 22 eight-story buildings.
  10. Unity Plaza (Sites 4, 5A, 6, 7, 11, 12, 27); 5 six-story buildings.
  11. Unity Plaza (Sites 17,24,25A); 3 six-story buildings.
  12. Vandalia Avenue; 2 ten-story buildings.

Subsections

City Line

City Line, named for its location as the easternmost neoghborhood of the former city of Brooklyn, is a subsection of East New York, with the Queens border to the east, Fountain Avenue to the west, Salem Fields Cemetery to the north and Jamaica Bay to the south.

New Lots

New Lots is often included in East New York, and the reverse has been true. The boundaries are Linden Boulevard to the south, Fountain Avenue to the east, Sutter Avenue to the north and Van Sinderen Avenue to the west. New Lots includes multiple low-income public housing developments and is largely industrial.

Spring Creek

Spring Creek, the most common place for gang stabbings,[citation needed] is the southeastern part of the former town of New Lots and is often included in East New York. Its boundaries are Linden Blvd. to the north, Fountain Avenue to the east, Gateway National Recreation Area to the south and Schenck Avenue to the west. Spring Creek includes the Starrett City apartment complex and the Gateway Plaza Mall and is largely undeveloped.

Cypress Hills

Cypress Hills is a subsection north of New Lots. The Cypress Hills housing project is not in Cypress Hills but instead in the City Line subsection of East New York with Van Sinderen Avenue to the west and 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

Starrett City is a large subsidized apartment complex. Each building has between 11 and 20 floors. Its boundaries are Linden Blvd. to the north, Schenck Avenue to the east, Jamaica Bay to the south and the Fresh Creek Basin to the west.

Bordering neighborhoods

  • Brownsville is a neighborhood west of East New York. Its borders are Junius Street to the east, Rockaway Parkway to the west, the LIRR tracks to the south and East New York Avenue to the north.

History

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. Through one low spot in the chain passed a few 18th-century roads, including the ferry road or Jamaica Turnpike from Brooklyn to Jamaica; hence the low spot 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 mid-19th century the road between Brooklyn and Jamaica became the Brooklyn and Jamaica Plank Road. The New York and Manhattan Beach Railway and the Long Island Rail Road 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. Rapid transit lines were built and brought urban sprawl to this recently rustic northern part of the Town of New Lots. 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, and in the 20th century its name came to be applied to much of the former township of New Lots.

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

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After World War II, thousands of manufacturing jobs left New York City, thereby increasing the importance of the remaining jobs to persons with limited education and job skills. During this 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.

Ghetto

File:East New York Abandonment.jpg
Some of the many abandoned houses in East New York.

In his 2003 book, How East New York Became a Ghetto, Walter Thabit, a city planner for East New York, chronicled the change in population from mostly working class Italians and Jewish residents to residents of Puerto Rican and African 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. Similarly, many African-Americans were migrating northward in the post-war era.

Once Black and Puerto Rican people moved into the neighborhood, landlords and real estate agents used scare tactics to encourage Jews to leave, citing that the "time to sell is now." At the same time, landlords were taking advantage of new residents by charging them high down payments and gouging them on rent payments. They would then evict tenants at the first possible opportunity, keeping the down payment.

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 he contends that much of the urban renewal and public housing efforts of the period were in fact well intentioned, if ill-considered and hubristic.[4].

Renewal

File:East New York Rebuilding.jpg
New subsidized single-family homes being built under the Nehemiah program.

New developments have been rising in the area, including the Gateway Center[5], located on what was once part of a landfill near Jamaica Bay. The Gateway shopping mall in Starrett City near East New York is suburban-style, including retailers 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 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 of jobs has been elusive, as the low-wage high-turnover positions that comprise the majority of jobs there do little to generate higher wealth in the community.

75th Precinct NYPD

Urban Renewal

After a wave of arson ravaged the low-income communities of New York City throughout the 1970s, many of the residential structures in East New York were left seriously damaged or destroyed. In this condition the area served as the fictional setting for the film Death Wish 3. In the late 1970s the city began to rehabilitate many abandoned apartment buildings[citation needed] and designate them low-income housing. Also, many subsidized multi-unit townhouses and newly constructed apartment buildings have been or are being built on vacant lots across the neighborhood.

Transportation

East New York is served by the East New York station of the Long Island Rail Road. It is served by the 3 train on the IRT New Lots Line at the Junius Street, Pennsylvania Avenue, Van Siclen Avenue and New Lots Avenue stations and by the L train (the BMT Canarsie Line) at Atlantic Avenue, Sutter Avenue, Livonia Avenue and New Lots Avenue. East New York is served by IND Fulton Street Line at the Liberty Avenue, Van Siclen Avenue, Shepherd Avenue, Euclid Avenue and Grant Avenue stations as well as by the Broadway Junction station of the A, C, J, L, and Z lines of the New York City Subway. The East New York Yard of the New York City subway and the East New York Bus Depot are located near Jamaica Avenue. The B20, B83, B82, B6 and B15 buses also serve East New York.

Police Patrol

East New York is served by the NYPD's 75th [6] Precinct.

Education

All areas of New York City are within the New York City Department of Education school district. East New York is one of the areas that suffers from very high high-school dropout rates. Stabbings, gang violence and robberies are some of the common problems in the East New York Family Academy and other local schools.

School closed and reorganized

The neighborhood's local public high school, Thomas Jefferson High School, was 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 have been organized in the old building.[7]

Notable natives

References

External links

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