Park Slope Neighborhood
May 3, 2021
I am visiting Courtney, Julie, Clarke, Daisy and Ellie at their apartment on 8th Street in Brooklyn. They have done a wonderful job turning the apartment into a home. Everything looks effortless as they move through their days. always makes me feel good that Clarke remembers me and is excited to see me. Daisy has her moments of warming up to me. Ellie is still skittish of me.
They live 1/2 block from Prospect Park. Dogs are allowed off leash from 6 am to 9 am. I have never so many dogs - all different kinds - in one place. Easily I bet there are at least 200 dogs running around chasing balls, chasing other dogs and sniffing. Lots of sniffing. 😁
Some information about their neighborhood:
Park Slope is a neighborhood in northwestern Brooklyn, New York City, within the area once known as South Brooklyn. Park Slope is roughly bounded by Prospect Park and Prospect Park West to the east, Fourth Avenue to the west, Flatbush Avenue to the north, and Prospect Expressway to the south. Generally, the section from Flatbush Avenue to Garfield Place (the "named streets") is considered the "North Slope", the section from 1st through 9th Streets is considered the "Center Slope", and south of 10th Street, the "South Slope". The neighborhood takes its name from its location on the western slope of neighboring Prospect Park. Fifth Avenue and Seventh Avenue are its primary commercial streets, while its east–west side streets are lined with brownstones and apartment buildings.
Park Slope was settled by the Lenape before Europeans arrived in the 17th century. The area was mostly farms and woods until the early 19th century, when the land was subdivided into rectangular parcels. The western section of the neighborhood was occupied in the mid-19th century, being located near the industrial Gowanus Canal and ferries. After the completion of Prospect Park, numerous mansions and rowhouses were developed in Park Slope's eastern section in the 1880s. Park Slope faced social and infrastructural decline in the mid-20th century, but the building stock was renovated after the area became gentrified starting in the 1960s. Much of the neighborhood is overlaid by the Park Slope Historic District, which is composed of a National Historic District and a New York City landmark district.
Park Slope features historic buildings, top-rated restaurants, bars, and shops, as well as proximity to Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, and the Central Library and Park Slope branches of the Brooklyn Public Library. The neighborhood had a population of about 62,200 as of the 2000 census. Park Slope is generally ranked as one of New York City's most desirable neighborhoods.
Park Slope is part of Brooklyn Community District 6, and its primary ZIP Codes are 11215 and 11216. It is patrolled by the 78th Precinct of the New York City Police Department. Politically it is represented by the New York City Council's 33rd and 39th Districts.
Though modern-day Brooklyn is coextensive with Kings County, this was not always the case. South Brooklyn, an area in central Kings County extending to the former Brooklyn city line near Green-Wood Cemetery's southern border, was originally settled by the Canarsee Indians, one of several indigenous Lenape peoples who farmed and hunted on the land. The Lenape typically lived in wigwams, and had larger fishing and hunting communities near freshwater sites on higher land. Several Lenape roads crossed the landscape and were later widened into "ferry roads" by 17th-century Dutch settlers, since they were used to provide transport to the waterfront. One was the Flatbush Road, running roughly north–south to the east of the path of present-day Flatbush Avenue. Just north of modern-day Park Slope was the Jamaica Road, running east to Jamaica, Queens, on what is now the path of Fulton Street.
The first European settlement occurred in 1637-1639 when Willem Kieft, the Dutch West India Company's director, purchased almost all land in what is now Brooklyn and Queens. The area was used as farmland over the next two centuries.
During the American Revolutionary War, on August 27, 1776, the Park Slope area served as the backdrop for the beginning of the Battle of Long Island. In this battle, over 10,000 British soldiers and Hessian mercenaries routed outnumbered American forces, which resulted in the British occupation of Long and Staten Islands. The Battle Pass site is now preserved in Prospect Park, while on Fifth Avenue, there is a reconstruction of the Old Stone House, a farmhouse where a countercharge covered the American retreat.
Transit from Park Slope improved in the early 19th century. The Brooklyn, Jamaica and Flatbush Turnpike Company was incorporated in 1809 to widen the Flatbush and Jamaica ferry roads, prior to the establishment of the Fulton Ferry to Manhattan in 1814.
Afterward, stagecoaches started running on Flatbush Road in 1830, with omnibus service following four years later. The land comprising what is now Park Slope was still mostly undeveloped c. 1810. There were a couple of houses on and around Prospect Hill, a tavern, and a resort; the section of Flatbush Road through present-day Prospect Park contained ponds of standing water, which caused fevers and other illnesses. Soon afterward, the land was split up into rectangular parcels, which were bought by numerous people and cultivated as farmland. As in the rest of Kings County, the farmland was likely dependent on slave labor.
The farm parcels were further split in the 19th century, allowing for the development of smaller urban lots. After Brooklyn was incorporated as a city in 1834, the Commissioners Plan of 1839 was devised, a street plan that extended to South Brooklyn. Park Slope was originally located in the northern section of the Eighth Ward, which at the time was the city's least populous ward.
The Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad started running on Atlantic Avenue, north of Park Slope, in 1836. The railroad's presence did not hasten the slow rate of residential growth in South Brooklyn because the locomotives provided slow and inefficient service. Horse-drawn railcar companies provided competition to the railroad: the first, the Brooklyn City Railroad, was founded in 1853. Other streetcar routes were founded, including a line on Flatbush Avenue in 1875, as well as the Atlantic Avenue Company's Fifth Avenue and Ninth Avenue lines, the latter of which served the Eighth Ward directly.
Prospect Park and further development
The first plans to develop modern-day Park Slope arose in 1847 when Colonel Daniel Richards requested permission from the Brooklyn Common Council to develop the Eighth Ward's streets. Richards also proposed the renovation of the nearby Gowanus Creek into a canal, including draining the marshes in its watershed. Between 1849 and 1860, under a decree by the New York Legislature, the Gowanus Creek was deepened. Simultaneously, a local lawyer and railroad developer named Edwin Clarke Litchfield (1815–1885) purchased large tracts of what was then farmland, erecting his Litchfield Villa on the east side of the neighborhood in 1857. Through the American Civil War era, Litchfield sold off much of his land to residential developers.
Development increased with the planning and creation of Prospect Park, just east of modern-day Park Slope. In February 1860, a group of fifteen commissioners had submitted suggestions for locations of four large parks and three small parks in Brooklyn. The largest of these proposed parks was a 320-acre plot east of Ninth and Tenth Avenue in the Eighth Ward. After work was stopped during the Civil War, the proposed park's boundaries were changed, shifting the boundaries slightly west and south. In 1868, the City of Brooklyn purchased his estate and adjoining property to complete the West Drive and the southern portion of the Long Meadow in Prospect Park, for the then-exorbitant price of $1.7 million ($33 million in 2019). The modern-day Park Slope was split into the city's 22nd Ward the same year.
By the late 1870s, with horse-drawn rail cars running to the park and the ferry, bringing many rich New Yorkers in the process, urban sprawl dramatically changed the neighborhood into a streetcar suburb. The opening of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883 led to further development in the city of Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Union Elevated Railroad extended its Fifth Avenue elevated line to South Brooklyn six years later. During the 1890s, the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company added electric trolley lines or converted old stagecoach lines to electric service.
Upscale residential neighborhood
Many of the large Victorian mansions on Prospect Park West, known as the Gold Coast, were built in the 1880s and 1890s to take advantage of the park views.
Early colloquial names for the neighborhood included "Prospect Heights" (later applied to the neighborhood north of Prospect Park), "Prospect Hill", and "Park Hill Side", before residents settled on Park Slope. By 1883, with the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, Park Slope continued to boom and subsequent brick and brownstone structures pushed the neighborhood's borders farther. The 1890 census showed Park Slope to be the richest community in the United States. Realtors and community members saw a clear connection between Park Slope's bucolic setting and the comfort of living there. As the New York Tribune wrote in 1899, "Nature set the park down where it is, and man has embellished her work in laying out great lawns and artificial lakes, in bringing together menageries and creating conservatories, in making roads and driveways, and in doing everything in his power to make the place a pleasant pleasure ground and a charming resort."
Baseball had also played a prominent role in the history of the Park Slope area. From 1879 to 1889, the Brooklyn Atlantics played at Washington Park on 5th Avenue between 3rd and 4th Streets. When the park was destroyed by a fire, the team moved to two other sites. In 1898, the "New" Washington Park was built between Third and Fourth Avenues and between First and Third Streets near the Gowanus Canal. The team, by this point known as the Dodgers, played to an ever-growing fan base at this location, and team owner Charles Ebbets moved the team to his Ebbets Field stadium in Flatbush for the beginning of the 1913 season.
20th century to present
Following Brooklyn's subsumption into the City of Greater New York in 1898 and accelerating in the 1910s, many wealthy and upper middle-class families fled for the suburban life, initially to outlying Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods (such as nearby Flatbush) and thence more distant locales in Westchester County, Nassau County and New Jersey amid the adoption of the automobile. Manhattan gained economic and cultural dominance in the consolidated city, helped by transportation improvements like the subway, which brought a more heterogeneous population to Brooklyn. Existing families adapted by relocating to exclusive districts in the other boroughs, most notably the Upper East Side.
The socioeconomic changes were slowed by the ongoing development of upscale apartment houses on Prospect Park West and Plaza Street along with infill middle-class buildings throughout the neighborhood. Only a fraction of the area, centered in the traditional Gold Coast district and select adjoining blocks, retained wealthy and upper middle-class residents into the 1940s. The Emery Roth-designed 35 Prospect Park West, marketed as a competitor to the upscale apartment houses of Fifth Avenue, Park Avenue and Central Park West, opened right before the Great Depression in 1929, and contained a variety of luxury accommodations (including penthouses, duplexes and maisonettes) alongside "just plain apartments". While the building attracted such notable residents as pharmaceutical executive John L. Smith and remained a "solid fortress of wealth" for decades, it ultimately failed to anchor comparable development in the neighborhood.
By the 1950s, the working-class Italian-American and Irish-American populations predominated, though this changed by the 1970s as the black and Latino population of the area increased and the white ethnic population began to relocate amid the less exclusive, though effectively segregated, wave of postwar suburbanization. However, the area straddling Flatbush and Washington Avenues between Prospect Park and Atlantic Avenue began to attract a population that was mostly African-American and West Indian-American, similar to neighboring Crown Heights. This area was increasingly identified as the separate neighborhood of Prospect Heights, a moniker that had previously been used to identify areas of Park Slope outside the Gold Coast.
Some of those that remained reacted violently to the ethnic changes to the neighborhood; for example, white residents of Park Slope attempted to bar African-Americans from participating in after-school programs at William Alexander Middle School in 1966. After this failed, white teenagers engaged in firebomb attacks on African-American homes on Fourth Street. In 1968, a street fight between Italian and African-American gangs occurred at Fifth Avenue and President Street, using bricks and bottles as weapons; in the aftermath of the fight, fourteen African-Americans and three Italian-Americans were arrested.
On December 16, 1960, two airliners collided above Staten Island, killing 134 people in what was the worst U.S. aviation disaster at that time. One of the airplanes, a Douglas DC-8 operated by United Airlines, was able to stay airborne for a few miles before crashing near the corner of Sterling Place and Seventh Avenue. Everyone on board was instantly killed, except for one 11-year-old boy, Stephen Baltz, who died the following night at New York Methodist Hospital. Six people on the ground were also killed.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the renovation of a now-$4.8 million brownstone along Berkeley Place sparked a trend where the rest of the brownstones were cleaned up and the grittiness of the neighborhood began to fade. Young professionals began to buy and renovate brownstones (which only cost around $15,000–35,000 at the time), often converting them from rooming houses into single and two-family homes. Preservationists helped secure landmark status for many of the neighborhood's blocks of historic row houses, brownstone, and Queen Anne, Renaissance Revival, and Romanesque mansions. After the 1973 creation of the landmark district, primarily above 7th Avenue, the rate of gentrification was sped up, and throughout the 1970s, the area saw an influx of young professional couples.
By the early 1980s, however, even as the gentrification of the neighborhood was rapidly proceeding, crime was soaring, along with crime in the rest of New York City. In addition to a rumored crack house near Prospect Park, the neighborhood was affected by daily muggings and shootings. Gentrification accelerated during the 1980s and 1990s as working-class families were generally replaced by upper-middle-class people being priced out of Manhattan or Brooklyn Heights. Following decades of socioeconomic precarity, the influx of the upper middle-class has returned Park Slope to its Gilded Age milieu as one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Brooklyn—and the nation. Sociologist and urban theorist Sharon Zukin has written of the trend, "In Park Slope, the middle class found a sense of history and a picturesque quality that fit their sense of themselves.". Since the mid-1990s, gentrification has increased: a 2001 report by the New York City Rent Guidelines Board found that from 1990 to 1999, rents in Park Slope increased by 3.5–4.4% per year, depending on what kind of building the apartment was in.
Park Slope contains a variety of zoning districts, including manufacturing, commercial, residential, and mixed-use. Much of the neighborhood is composed of rowhouses and six-to-eight-story apartment buildings, though Fourth, Fifth and Seventh Avenues contain residential structures with commercial space on the ground floors. The westernmost portion of Park Slope near the Gowanus Canal is a light industrial district. The section of Seventh Avenue south of Ninth Street is largely zoned for low-density commercial use.
14th Brooklyn Armory on 15th Street
Much of Park Slope is located within the Park Slope Historic District, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The historic district was also designated by the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1973; the city-designated district was extended to the south in 2012 and to the north in 2016 Containing 2,575 buildings stretching over part or all of around 40 city blocks, the historic district is New York's largest landmark neighborhood.
Several other structures in Park Slope are both NRHP and city landmarks:
14th Regiment Armory, an armory built in 1891–95 and designed in the Late Victorian style[
Litchfield Villa, an Italianate mansion built in 1854–1857 on a large private estate now located in Prospect Park
Public Bath No. 7, a bathhouse built between 1906 and 1910 in the style of a Renaissance palazzo
Public School 39, built in 1876–1877 in the Italianate and Second Empire styles
William B. Cronyn House, built in 1856 in the Second Empire style
Additionally, the Brooklyn Public Library's Park Slope branch, a Carnegie library built in 1905–06, is a city landmark. The Fourth Avenue station and 15th Street–Prospect Park station are NRHP landmarks that are part of the New York City Subway System Multiple Property Submission (MPS). The Old Stone House, a 1930 reconstruction of the Vechte-Cortelyou House destroyed in 1897, is another NRHP listing and is located on Third Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues. The Grand Prospect Hall, an NRHP-listed banquet hall on Prospect Avenue, was built in 1892.
Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of the Park Slope/Gowanus neighborhood tabulation area was 67,649, a change of 386 (0.6%) from the 67,263 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 961.17 acres, the neighborhood had a population density of 70.4 inhabitants per acre.
The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 67.3% (45,529) White, 6.4% (4,334) African American, 0.1% (77) Native American, 6% (4,056) Asian, 0% (19) Pacific Islander, 0.5% (318) from other races, and 3% (2,053) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 16.6% (11,263) of the population.
The entirety of Community Board 6, which covers areas around Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, had 109,351 inhabitants as of NYC Health's 2018 Community Health Profile, with an average life expectancy of 81.4 years. This is slightly higher than the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods. Most inhabitants are middle-aged adults and youth: 18% are between the ages of 0 and 17, 46% between 25 and 44, and 20% between 45 and 64. The ratio of college-aged and elderly residents was lower, at 5% and 10% respectively.
As of 2016, the median household income in Community Board 6 was $134,804. In 2018, an estimated 10% of Park Slope and Carroll Gardens residents lived in poverty, compared to 21% in all of Brooklyn and 20% in all of New York City. Less than one in fifteen residents (6%) 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 37% in Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, lower than the citywide and boroughwide rates of 52% and 51% respectively. Based on this calculation, as of 2018, Park Slope and Carroll Gardens is considered to be high-income and not gentrifying.
Police and crime
Park Slope is patrolled by the 78th Precinct of the NYPD, located at 65 6th Avenue. The 78th Precinct ranked 41st safest out of 69 patrol areas for per-capita crime in 2010. As of 2018, with a non-fatal assault rate of 30 per 100,000 people, Park Slope and Carroll Gardens' rate of violent crimes per capita is less than that of the city as a whole. The incarceration rate of 294 per 100,000 people is lower than that of the city as a whole.
The 78th Precinct has a lower crime rate than in the 1990s, with crimes across all categories having decreased by 84.0% between 1990 and 2019. The precinct reported 0 murders, 11 rapes, 79 robberies, 99 felony assaults, 104 burglaries, 497 grand larcenies, and 40 grand larcenies auto in 2019.
Park Slope is considered one of New York City's most desirable neighborhoods. In 2010, it was ranked number 1 in New York by New York Magazine, citing its quality public schools, dining, nightlife, shopping, access to public transit, green space, safety, and creative capital, among other aspects. It was named one of the "Greatest Neighborhoods in America" by the American Planning Association in 2007, "for its architectural and historical features and its diverse mix of residents and businesses, all of which are supported and preserved by its active and involved citizenry." In December 2006, Natural Home magazine named Park Slope one of America's ten best neighborhoods based on criteria including parks, green spaces and neighborhood gathering spaces; farmers' markets and community gardens; public transportation and locally owned businesses; and environmental and social policy.
The Park Slope Food Coop, one of the oldest and largest active food co-ops in the United States, is located on Union Street has approximately 17,000 members from Park Slope and other neighborhoods. Only members may shop there, and membership requires a work commitment of 23⁄4 hours every four weeks.
The Park Slope Volunteer Ambulance Corps provides free emergency medical services to community members.
The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, part of the Brooklyn Queens Conservatory of Music, is a community music school, offering music classes, ensembles and choral opportunities, and individual instrumental and vocal lessons to students from 18 months old to adults. It was founded in 1897.
Christian Help, Inc. Park Slope (CHiPS) is a soup kitchen that serves 200-250 men and women daily. Its Frances Residency Program provides shelter and support for young homeless mothers and their infants and toddlers; it was founded in 1971.
Park Slope and Carroll Gardens generally have a much higher ratio of college-educated residents than the rest of the city as of 2018. The majority (74%) of residents age 25 and older have a college education or higher, while 9% have less than a high school education and 17% 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. The percentage of Park Slope and Carroll Gardens students excelling in reading and math has been increasing, with reading achievement rising from 41 percent in 2000 to 53 percent in 2011, and math achievement rising from 35 percent to 64 percent within the same time period.
Park Slope and Carroll Gardens's rate of elementary school student absenteeism is lower than the rest of New York City. In Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, 11% of elementary school students missed twenty or more days per school year, compared to the citywide average of 20% of students.[ Additionally, 77% of high school students in Park Slope and Carroll Gardens graduate on time, higher than the citywide average of 75% of students.
The Brooklyn Public Library's Park Slope branch is located at 431 Sixth Avenue. Built in 1906, it was a Carnegie library branch, and was named the "Prospect branch" before 1975. The Brooklyn Central Library is located across Grand Army Plaza from the northeast corner of Park Slope.
The neighborhood is well-served by the New York City Subway. The IND Culver Line (F, <F>, and G trains) runs along Ninth Street, a main shopping street, stopping at Fourth Avenue, Seventh Avenue and 15th Street – Prospect Park/Prospect Park West. The IRT Eastern Parkway Line (2, 3, 4, and 5 trains) runs under Flatbush Avenue with an express stop at Atlantic Avenue – Barclays Center, and local stops (served by the 2, 3, and 4 trains) at Bergen Street and Grand Army Plaza. The BMT Fourth Avenue Line's local trains (D, N, R, and W trains) serve Prospect Avenue, Ninth Street, and Union Street stations, with the D, N, R, and W trains all serving Atlantic Avenue–Barclays Center, an express station. The BMT Brighton Line (B and Q trains) also passes through the neighborhood under Flatbush Avenue making stops at Atlantic Avenue–Barclays Center and Seventh Avenue. All three stations at Atlantic Avenue are connected to each other.
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