Brownsville, Brooklyn (History)

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(Neighborhoods In Brooklyn)

neighborhoods_brooklyn_brownsvilleBrownsville is a residential neighborhood located in eastern Brooklyn, New York.

The total land area is one square mile, and the ZIP code for the neighborhood is 11212. Brownsville is bordered by East New York Avenue to the north (on the Bedford-Stuyvesant border), Remsen Avenue to the west (Flatbush) and the freight rail Bay Ridge Branch of the Long Island Rail Road to the south (adjacent to the neighborhood of Canarsie) & to the east (East New York).

The area is patrolled by the 73rd Precinct located at 1470 East New York Avenue. New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) property in the area is patrolled by P.S.A. 2. It is part of Brooklyn Community Board 16.



Brownsville was Jewish and politically radical from the 1880s to the 1950s, throughout the 1920s and 1930s, it elected Socialist and American Labor Party candidates to the state assembly .

As early as the 1910s, the area had acquired a reputation as a vicious slum and breeding ground for crime. It has been known throughout the years for its criminal gangs and in the 30s and 40s achieved notoriety as the birthplace of Murder, Inc. It was a predominantly Jewish neighborhood until the 1960s, when its population had become largely African-American and Brownsville’s unemployment rate was 17 percent. Half of all families in the district lived on less than $5,000 a year. As Jimmy Breslin wrote in 1968, Brownsville reminded him of Berlin after the war; block after block of burned-out shells of houses, streets littered with decaying automobile hulks. The stores on the avenues are empty and the streets are lined with deserted apartment houses or buildings that have empty apartments on every floor.

In September 1967, a riot occurred following the death of a boy.

In 1968 Brownsville was the setting of a protracted and highly contentious teacher strike. The Board of Education had experimented with giving the people of the neighborhood control over the school. The new administration laid off several teachers in violation of union contract rules. The teachers were all white and mostly Jewish, and the resulting strike served to badly divide the whole city. The resulting strike dragged on for half a year, becoming known as one of John Lindsay’s “Ten Plagues”.



As of the 2008 U.S. Census, Brownsville’s population was 88,411 and the demographics were 75.1% Black or African American, 13.8% Hispanic or Latino, 12.6% Caucasian, 2.7% Asian/Pacific Islander and 9.2% described themselves as other. 37.7% of the population were High School graduates and 13.2% had a Bachelor’s degree or higher. As of 2008, the median household income was $25,967. There were a total of 28,298 housing units in Brownsville.

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