Borough Park, Brooklyn (History)

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(Neighborhoods In Brooklyn)

neighborhoods_brooklyn_borough_parkBorough Park (usually spelled Boro Park by its residents), is a neighborhood in the southwestern part of the borough of Brooklyn, in New York City in the United States.

Borough Park is home to one of the largest Orthodox Jewish communities outside of Israel, with one of the largest concentrations of Jews in the United States and Orthodox traditions rivaling many insular communities. Since the average number of children in Hasidic and Hareidi families is 6.72, Borough Park is experiencing sharp growth. It is an economically diverse area, with rich, working class and poor people living side-by-side and going to the same schools and synagogues.

Its heart lies between 11th and 18th Avenues and 40th and 60th Streets. Borough Park is patrolled by the NYPD’s 66th Precinct.

The neighborhood has undergone many transformations in recent decades. Demographically, it has changed from a neighborhood of Italian, Irish, and Modern Orthodox Jewish families to one of mostly Hasidic Jewish families.

In a 2000 Census study, it was reported that an estimated 76,600 Jews lived in Borough Park. Since that time, Borough Park has grown significantly, and has earned the title of “baby boom capital” of New York City because of its high birth rate. The neighborhood recorded 4,523 births in 2004, the highest in the city. The closest Brooklyn neighborhood in terms of population growth was Williamsburg, home to many Satmar Hasidim, which reported 3,839 births. Borough Park’s birth rate, 24.4 per 1,000 residents, has translated into major growth in the neighborhood.

Hasidic families often require larger homes, and this has fueled construction and renovation projects across the neighborhood. The vast majority of these projects involve larger bedrooms and kitchens. Since 1990, the Building Department has issued more permits for private construction projects – new homes and additions – in the Borough Park area than in any other residential neighborhood in Brooklyn.” These construction projects were aided with a new law in 1992, which established Borough Park as a special zoning district where residents could build on 65% of their lot. This reduced the size of setbacks and backyards tremendously.

Local stores and businesses are currently gaining economically. The 13th Avenue shopping district, a shopping strip roughly one mile in length from 39th street to about 55th street, is packed storefronts supplying Jewish households. Many Hasidic Jews shop loyally at these stores, coming from all parts of the city, other states, and even other countries to buy kosher items. Businesses have benefited from the growing Jewish population, the increasing density of the neighborhood, and the use of entrepreneurial spirit on the Internet.

The community has achieved global recognition, especially among Israeli expatriates and tourists. In 1999, a kosher hotel called “The Avenue Plaza Hotel” opened on 13th Avenue, becoming the first hotel to appear in the neighborhood in more than a decade. It is a popular attraction for visitors to New York City, and it is among the few hotels that can accommodate the needs of many Hasidim.

Banks include HSBC formerly Republic National Bank formerly Bank Leumi, Washington Mutual formerly Dime Bancorp now part of JPMorgan Chase, and Citibank have had local branches for decades. A booming economy has brought in others including Apple, North Fork now Capital One, Park Avenue, Sovereign Bank formerly Independence Community now part of Santander, JP Morgan Chase, Berkshire, Liberty Pointe, Astoria, TD Bank formerly Commerce Bank, Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh and Metropolitan National Bank, new banks opening in 2009 Valley National Bank and Bank of America.

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