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New Historic District Approved in Crown Heights, Brooklyn

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

On Tuesday, the city's Landmark Preservation Commission approved the creation of a new historic district in Brooklyn's predominantly West Indian-American and Hasidic Jewish neighborhood of Crown Heights: the Crown Heights North II Historic District.

The new district includes 610 row houses, apartment buildings and large Queen Anne-style homes, most of which were built between 1870 and 1920. The area is bound by Bergen St. to the north, Brooklyn Ave. to the east, Eastern Parkway to the south and Nostrand Ave. to the west; and it borders a pre-existing, 472-building historic area that the Landmark Preservation Commission designated as a historic district in 2007.

"The neighborhood is really an exquisite mosaic of remarkably well preserved examples of architectural styles and building types," said the commission's chairman Robert Tierney.

Area resident Deborah Young created the Crown Heights North Association to help generate interest in landmarking in the community and to educate her neighbors on the benefits of a historic district, which she says include increased property values and protection from the kind of over-development happening elsewhere in Brooklyn.

“Look at what’s going on in Downtown Brooklyn with the building of these huge structures,” said Young. “Not that they're not nice in their own right, but they're keeping with the brownstones that you have in many of our neighborhoods. So, for us in Crown Heights, we want to maintain what we have.”

According to the Crown Heights North Association, Crown Heights was one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Brooklyn in the late 19th century. Eastern Parkway was lined with opulent mansions that were eventually torn down and replaced with townhouses. African American and Caribbean families began to buy homes in the area in the 1920s, even as the neighborhood became home to the Orthodox Jewish Chabad-Lubavitch movement and several Yeshiva schools.

Opponents of landmarking argue that protected status makes renovation and development unnecessarily difficult for landlords. Others claim that the resulting increase in property values leads to higher rents, which accelerates gentrification.

Before the Crown Heights North II Historic District becomes official, it must be approved by the City Council. A third historic district in the area is also being considered by the commission.

243 New York Avenue.
Landmarks Preservation Commission
243 New York Avenue.
1111 Bergen Street, the oldest home standing in the neighborhood, built in 1876.
Landmarks Preservation Commission
1111 Bergen Street, the oldest home standing in the neighborhood, built in 1876.
860 and 862 Prospect Place.
Landmarks Preservation Commission
860 and 862 Prospect Place.
St. Gregory's Roman Catholic Church, built in 1917.
Landmarks Preservation Commission
St. Gregory's Roman Catholic Church, built in 1917.
Colorful homes in the new Crown Heights North II Historic District.
Landmarks Preservation Commission
Colorful homes in the new Crown Heights North II Historic District.

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Comments [4]

Margie from Manhattan

I grew up in Crown Heights NORTH, which had NO name, from 1934-1958. I lived on Prospect Place between Brooklyn and New York Aves. The black neighborhood started on mixed Dean St., north of Bergen St. and continued northward. There were no blacks in the designated C.H.North historic district or in the real Crown Heights itself until after WWII when the Lubavitchers also came.

Jan. 21 2014 12:27 AM
Pascale from NJ

I am of Haitian descent, born and raised in Crown Heights-President St. bet. Troy and Albany Avenues in the 1960s and 70s. I know for a fact that most of the houses in the neighborhood were already owned by African-American and Caribbean-American families who migrated to Harlem and Brooklyn during the great migration of the 1920s -from the south and from islands such as Barbados, Jamaica, Bahamas, Trinidad, and even Haiti. These were mostly laborers. Our house was built in 1928 and ownership was transferred to my family in the early 1950s. At that time, for a $5000.00 down payment you could buy a 5 story brownstone.
In the 1960s more Caribbean-Americans came in as the immigration quotas and laws changed to allow professionals and immigrants with technical degrees.

Jun. 29 2011 12:57 PM
Raul from Prospect Heights

The landmarking is great news!

@Mike - As I understand it, African Americans have been in the neighborhood since at least the 1700s. Following the emancipation of slaves in 1827, Weeksville became the site of one of New York’s earliest independent African American townships. You can find out more at www.crownheightsnorth.org.

Jun. 29 2011 12:36 PM
Mike from Crown Heights

I never knew that African American and Caribbean, bought housing in Crown Heights as early as 1920.

I was under the impression that they started moving in Crown Heights in the early 60's.

I think they should check the facts before making such historic inaccurate statements.

Jun. 29 2011 11:18 AM

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