Only recently has gentrification started in this primarily African-American and Hispanic neighborhood, and clusters of semi-detached row houses have sprung up around housing developments, allowing for private apartment living in the neighborhood. In recent years, the population has diversified and Caribbean, Hispanic, and Asian immigrants have started to settle in the area.
Founded by the Dutch, Brownsville was originally farmland, and home to stone quarries. In 1860 the land was first purchased and turned into housing lots, only to have the developer renege on his mortgage, at which time Charles S. Brown bought the land package, building 250 houses and naming it Brown’s Village. During the first part of the 20th century the community was comprised largely of Jewish immigrants who had moved from the Lower East Side, and the neighborhood was a hotbed of progressive socialist and labor activity for many years.Find Brownsville apartments
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During the 1960s Brownsville was burned in race riots, like many other neighborhoods in the City, and the razing of the tenements made way for the public housing construction that characterizes much of the neighborhood. At the same time, Brownsville was getting a bad reputation as a crime-ridden slum, and what were originally middle-class building, had become dangerous tenements. Urban renewal started in the 1970s, as existing tenements were restored, and affordable housing was built in vacant lots, a trend that continues. The neighborhood is trending in the right direction, and community gardens have popped up where there were empty lots filled with garbage, and private developers are starting to invest in the area.
Pitkin Avenue is Brownsville’s main thoroughfare, but most of the shops and take-out stores are located on Rockaway Avenue. Fine dining is not something you’ll find in Brownsville, and shopping is limited. One of the neighborhood’s best aspects is the ease of travel, and subway stations dot the neighborhood (the A, C and L), and the commute is a mere half an hour to midtown. Another sign of progress is that in 2013, Brownsville installed its first bicycle lane, parks and playgrounds are being developed and improved, and the Betsy Head Recreation Center, which has a pool, is well-maintained.