Bedford Stuyvesant

Bedford-Stuyvesant (also known as Bed-Stuy) is a neighborhood in the central portion of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. The neighborhood is part of Brooklyn Community Board 3, Brooklyn Community Board 8 and Brooklyn Community Board 16.

It is bordered by Flushing Avenue (On the Williamsburg border) to Classon Avenue (bordering Clinton Hill) to Atlantic/Kingston Avenues to Eastern Parkway (bordering Crown Heights), crossing over to Pitkin Avenue (also bordering Crown Heights), to East New York Avenue (Bordering Brownsville), and Van Sinderen Avenue (bordering East New York).

Over the years, it has been a cultural center for Brooklyn's black population. This has occurred since the 1930s when blacks left an overcrowded Harlem upon the opening of a new subway line and more housing availability in Brooklyn. From Bed-Stuy, blacks have since moved into and became the predominant ethnic group in surrounding areas of Brooklyn such as east New York, Brownsville, and Fort Greene.

The main thoroughfares are Nostrand Avenue and Fulton Street. The large part of what is considered Bedford-Stuyvesant is actually made up of four neighborhoods: Bedford, Stuyvesant Heights, Ocean Hill and Weeksville.

Early history

The neighborhood name is an extension of the name of the Village of Bedford, expanded to include the area of Stuyvesant Heights. The name Stuyvesant comes from Peter Stuyvesant, the last governor of the colony of New Netherland.

In pre-revolutionary Kings County, Bedford, which now forms the heart of the community, was the first major settlement east of the then Village of Brooklyn on the ferry road to Jamaica and eastern Long Island.

With the building of the Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad in 1832, taken over by the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) in 1836, Bedford was established as a railroad station near the intersection of current Atlantic and Franklin Avenues. In 1878, the Brooklyn, Flatbush and Coney Island Railway established its northern terminal with a connection to the LIRR at the same location.

The community of Bedford contained one of the oldest free black communities in the U.S., Weeksville, much of which is still extant and preserved as an historical site. Ocean Hill, a subsection founded in 1890 is primarily a residential area.

Establishment as an urban neighborhood

Enlarge picture
Bedford-Stuyvesant brownstones
In the last decades of the 19th century, with the advent of electric trolleys and the Fulton Street Elevated, Bedford Stuyvesant became a working class and middle class bedroom community for those working in downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan in New York City. At that time, most of the pre-existing wooden homes were destroyed and replaced with brownstone row houses, which are highly sought after in the neighborhood's contemporary renaissance. Many consider the area to be the black mecca of Brooklyn, similar to what Harlem is to Manhattan.

Ethnic changes

During and after World War II, large numbers of blacks, migrating from the Southern United States upon the decline of agricultural work and seeking economic opportunities in the North, moved into the neighborhood, often preferring it to the available housing in Harlem, then the city's pre-eminent black community.

Post-war problems

A series of problems led to a long decline in the neighborhood. Some of the new residents who had been rural workers had difficulty finding reasonably paid work in the urban New York economy. The city itself was in a period of steady decline, exacerbated by abandonment of parts of the transportation network, decline of public facilities and services, inability to deal with increasing crime, and difficulties in municipal government. The movement of significant parts of its population to suburban areas ghettoized a racially diverse neighborhood.

The Sixties

The 1960s and 1970s were a difficult time for New York City and impacted Bedford-Stuyvesant seriously. One of the first urban riots of the era took place there and social and racial divisions in the city contributed to the tensions, which reached a climax when attempts at community control in the nearby Ocean Hill school district pitted some black community residents and activists (from both inside and outside the area) against teachers, the majority of whom were white and many Jewish. Charges of racism were a common part of social tensions at the time. In 1964, race riots broke out in the Manhattan neighborhood of Harlem after a white NYPD lieutenant, Thomas Gilligan, shot and killed a black teenager, James Powell, 15.[1]. The riot spread to Bedford-Stuyvesant. This riot resulted in the destruction and looting of many neighborhood businesses, many of which were Jewish-owned. Race riots followed in 1967 and 1968, as part of the political and racial tensions in the United States of the era, aggravated by continued high unemployment among blacks, continued de facto segregation in housing, the failure to enforce civil rights laws, and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other blacks.

Current renaissance

Beginning in the 2000s the neighborhood began to experience a renaissance which continues to the present day.[1]

The two significant reasons for this are the affordable housing stock consisting of handsome brownstone rowhouses located on quiet tree-lined streets and the marked decrease of crime in the neighborhood, which is at least partly attributable to the decline of the national Crack Epidemic which occurred in the late 1980s and through the 1990s.

In July 2005, the New York City Police Department designated the Fulton Street-Nostrand Avenue business district in Bedford-Stuyvesant as an "Impact Zone." or the most dangerous area in NYC. The Police Department has also ranked Bed Stuy as two of the most violent neighborhoods in NYC besides Harlem. The designation directed significantly increased levels of police protection and resources to the area centered on the intersection of Fulton Street and Nostrand Avenue for a period of six months and was renewed for another six-month period in December 2005. Since the start of the Impact Zone in Bedford-Stuyvesant, crime within the district decreased 15% from the previous year.

Despite the improvements and increasing stability of the community, Bedford-Stuyvesant has continued to be stigmatized in some circles by a lingering public perception left over from the rough times of the late 20th Century. In March 2005 a campaign was launched to supplant the "Bed-Stuy, Do-or-Die" image in the public consciousness with the more positive "Bed-Stuy, and Proud of It".

Through a series of "wallscapes" (large outdoor murals), the campaign hopes to honor famous community members, including community activist and poet June Jordan, activist Hattie Carthan, rapper and actor Mos Def, and actor and comedian Chris Rock. [2] Additionally various artistic and cultural neighborhood events and celebrations such as the area's annual Universal Hip Hop Parade[3] seek to show off the area's positive accomplishments to the rest of New York City as well as visitors.

This ongoing revitalization and renewal of Bedford-Stuyvesant has prompted an increasingly diverse range of people to seek affordable housing among the many blocks of handsome brownstone rowhouses. The appeal of affordable homes and apartments that are still numerous in Bedford-Stuyvesant along with convenient access via mass transit to Downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan is fast making the area a favorite for students, artists and young families.

As a result, Bedford-Stuyvesant is becoming increasingly racially, economically and ethnically diverse with an increase of both the Hispanic and white populations. As is expected with gentrification, the influx of new residents has sometimes contributed to the displacement of poorer residents, but in many other cases, newcomers have simply rehabilitated and reoccupied formerly vacant and abandoned properties.

Some long-time residents and business owners have expressed the concern that they will be priced out by newcomers that they disparagingly characterize as "yuppies and buppies" and that the neighborhood's ethnic character will be lost. Others point out that a 70% African American population remains; and furthermore Bedford-Stuyvesant's population has experienced much less displacement of the African-Americans population, including those that are economically disadvantaged than other areas of Brooklyn, such as Cobble Hill.[4] Especially since a many of the new residents are upwardly mobile middle income African American families, as well as immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean.

It is further argued that the positive neighborhood changes will benefit all residents of the area bringing with it improve neighborhood safety and creating a demand for improved retail services along the major commercial strips, such as Fulton Street, (recently renamed Harriet Tubman Boulevard)[5], Nostrand Avenue, Tompkins Avenue,Greene Avenue, Lewis Avenue, Flushing Avenue, Park Avenue, Myrtle Avenue, Dekalb Avenue, Putnam Avenue, Bedford Avenue, Marcy Avenue, Malcolm X Boulevard, Gates Avenue, Madison Avenue and Jefferson Avenue. And that this in turn will bring an increase in local jobs and other economic activity to the area itself.

Bedford-Stuyvesant in the popular media

Bedford-Stuyvesant is one of the neighborhoods in New York City (including Harlem of the Harlem Renaissance and Jazz Age, the Lower East Side, Little Italy, Chinatown, the East Village, Greenwich Village, Coney Island, Borough Park and Flatbush) to possess a distinct identity and culture that is known to audiences outside of New York City.

Bedford-Stuyvesant's prominent neighborhood identity is due in part to the neighborhood's portrayal in a variety of popular media. Director Spike Lee has prominently featured the streets and brownstone blocks of Bedford-Stuyvesant in his films, including Do the Right Thing (1989) and Crooklyn (1994). Chris Rock's UPN (later CW) television sitcom, Everybody Hates Chris, portrays Rock's life growing up as a teenager in Bedford-Stuyvesant in 1982. Billy Joel's 1980s hit single, "You May Be Right" mentions the neighborhood with the lyrics "I was stranded in the combat zone / I walked through Bedford-Stuy alone / even rode my motorcycle in the rain" when discussing crazy things the singer had done in his life. The neighborhood was also the setting of Dave Chappelle's 2004 documentary Block Party, in which Chappelle and many prominent Rap and Soul artists performed an impromptu concert at the Broken Angel house.

A large number of well-known Gangsta rap, and hip-hop artists have come out of Bedford-Stuyvesant, including such notables as Deemi, Aaliyah, The Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Big Daddy Kane, Lil Kim, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Busta Rhymes, Maino, Fabolous, Papoose and Gza.

In "Scan," an episode of the television show Prison Break, fugitive Fernando Sucre flees to Bedford-Stuyvesant to meet his friend, only to find out that his sweetheart will be getting married in Las Vegas.

In a YouTube.com video [2], a little girl haunts a house on Bainbridge St. It was accepted to the 2007 New York International Independent Film and Video Festival.

The Notorious B.I.G. song "Unbelievable" starts with the line referring to himself as "Live from Bedford-Stuyvesant, the livest one."

Notable natives

Landmarks

References

1. ^ [3] Bed-Stuy On the Move
2. ^ [4] Daily News, March 5, 2005
3. ^ [5] Universal Hip Hop Parade
4. ^ [6] "The Battle for Bed-Stuy: The Price of Art" Time Out New York April 2005
5. ^ [7] Bed-Stuy Gateway Business District
6. ^ Vasquez, Emily. "Brooklyn-Born Rapper Is Arrested After Being Shot", The New York Times, October 18, 2005. Accessed October 7, 2007. "Mr. Jackson, raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, became famous in late 2001 with his debut single, “I Can’t Deny It.”"
7. ^ Ogunnaike, Lola. "A Flourish, and Lil' Kim Goes From Star to Inmate", The New York Times, September 20, 2005. Accessed October 19, 2007. "Ms. Jones spoke about her rise from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, to stardom and about her deepening relationship with God."
8. ^ Lee, Felicia R. "Where Everyone Loves to Love Chris", The New York Times, October 30, 2006. Accessed October 6, 2007. "It was a scream heard all the way down the block on Decatur Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant. If you know TV, or if you know that Brooklyn neighborhood, you know it’s a sweet stretch of well-tended homes and the setting for “Everybody Hates Chris,” the comedy series on the CW network inspired by the adolescent adventures of the comedian Chris Rock."

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Brooklyn Community Board 3 is a local governmental body in the New York City borough of Brooklyn that encompasses the neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Stuyvesant Heights and Ocean Hill.
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Brooklyn Community Board 8 is a local governmental body in the New York City borough of Brooklyn that encompasses the neighborhoods of Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, and Bedford-Stuyvesant.
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Brooklyn Community Board 16 is a local governmental body in the New York City borough of Brooklyn that encompasses the neighborhoods of Brownsville and Ocean Hill-Bedford Stuyvesant.
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Williamsburg is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, bordering Greenpoint, Bed-Stuy, and Bushwick. The neighborhood is part of Brooklyn Community Board 1.
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Clinton Hill is a small neighborhood in north-central portion of the borough of Brooklyn in New York City. It is bordered on the east by Bedford-Stuyvesant, on the west by Fort Greene, on the north by Wallabout Bay and on the south by Atlantic Avenue.
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Brownsville is a neighborhood in central Brooklyn, New York, predominantly Caribbean, Hispanic, and African-American. In 2000, Brownsville's 73rd precinct recorded the highest incidence of murders compared to all other precincts in New York City.
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East New York is a neighborhood in the eastern section of the borough of Brooklyn in New York City. It is bounded on the north by Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, on the west by Bedford-Stuyvesant, on the east by City Line, and on the south by New Lots.
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Harlem is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan, long known as a major black cultural and business center. After being associated for much of the twentieth century with black culture, but also crime and poverty, it is now experiencing a social and economic
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Bedford is a community in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, centered approximately at the corner of modern-day Fulton Street and Franklin Avenue.

Its name is better known today as part of the larger community of Bedford-Stuyvesant.
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Stuyvesant Heights is a neighborhood in north-central Brooklyn (New York City) founded in the mid-1800s when the borough was incorporated as a city at that time. The borders of the neighborhood are from Throop/Kingston Avenues (bordering the neighborhood of Bedford), Eastern
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Ocean Hill is a subsection of Bedford-Stuyvesant in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Founded in 1890, the neighborhood is part of Brooklyn Community Board 3 and Brooklyn Community Board 16. The ZIP code for the neighborhood is 11233.
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Weeksville was a village founded by African American freedmen on Long Island, New York in the area of what is now the neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. It was named after James Weeks, an African American freedman who purchased land there in 1838.
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Bedford is a community in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, centered approximately at the corner of modern-day Fulton Street and Franklin Avenue.

Its name is better known today as part of the larger community of Bedford-Stuyvesant.
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Stuyvesant Heights is a neighborhood in north-central Brooklyn (New York City) founded in the mid-1800s when the borough was incorporated as a city at that time. The borders of the neighborhood are from Throop/Kingston Avenues (bordering the neighborhood of Bedford), Eastern
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Pieter Stuyvesant (c. 1612 – August 1672) often Anglicized to Peter Stuyvesant, served as the last Dutch Director-General of the colony of New Netherland from 1647 until it was ceded provisionally to the English in 1664.
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New Netherland (Dutch: Nieuw-Nederland, Latin: Novum Belgium or Nova Belgica; see here), 1614–1674, was the territory on the eastern coast of North America in the 17th century which stretched from latitude 38 to 45 degrees North as originally
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