Do you know where the oldest structure in New York State is? Fun Fact! It’s in Canarsie. Built by the very first European settler of the area way back in 1652. A man by the name of Peter Wyckoff. The house still stands, and you can go visit it if you’re in the area.
Never heard of Canarsie? You’re not alone. Canarsie is a neighborhood in Kings County, home of Brooklyn, the most populous borough in New York City. Canarsie has a long and storied history, which this article will delve into, along with exploring the safety of the neighborhood.
You might find it interesting, but you’ll never know if you don’t read on and find out!
History Of Canarsie
Before the first European settlers arrived in the area in the mid-1600s, the land was used for fishing and hunting by a tribe of Native Americans known as the Canarsie tribe, who were the original settlers of the area.
The neighborhood was one of the tribe’s main villages, and cornfields stretched as far as the eye could see, probably to what is in the present-day called Avenue J and 92nd Street. The present-day name Canarsie is an English adaptation of the Lenape Tribe word for ‘fort’ or ‘fenced area.’
Europeans often used Native American terminology as names for areas and their inhabitants. What is not certain is whether Native Americans used the term Canarsie to refer to a particular village or all of their ancestral land.
The Dutch started settling in the area around 1636 and purchasing land from the tribe. In 1665, an agreement was signed that turned over most of the tribe’s land to the Dutch. The last official member of the tribe to reside in the area was a tax collector who died in 1907.
An Amusing Journey
In those days, the only way to get out to Canarsie was to take the train to Jamaica – the neighborhood in Queens, not the Caribbean island – and then switch to a stagecoach that would transport you through the wooded marshlands of the coastal route.
That all changed in 1865 when the Brooklyn and Rockaway Beach Railroad opened and Canarsie became a prosperous area, maturing into a popular seaside resort destination. The fishing industry also thrived,
By the beginning of the twentieth century, Canarsie was king of amusement parks, competing with the likes of the famed Coney Island. At one point, the railroad was making ten trips a day to bring revelers to landmarks like the Golden City Amusement Park.
A decline followed. For the fishing industry, the decline was due to outbreaks of Typhoid Fever and the like, plus pollution. Golden City fell victim to multiple fires in which the park was badly damaged. Finally, the owners declined to rebuild any further. It was replaced by the Belt Parkway.
After the decline in fishing and amusements, a community of Italian and Jewish immigrants sprang up, mostly in response to residential development in the post-world war two years. But following a contentious school zoning controversy in the sixties and seventies, many of these residents skedaddled to Long Island, Queens, Staten Island and New Jersey.
Since the nineties, the neighborhood has become mostly Black. In recent years, Canarsie has also struggled with the effects of Hurricane Sandy as well as fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis, which hit the Canarsie zip code harder than any other zip code in New York City.
Fun Facts About Canarsie
Do you like fun facts? Whether you like them or not, here they are!
- Fun Fact #1: From the nineteen thirties to the fifties, Canarsie was consistently ridiculed in Vaudeville acts, once being called ‘the butt of vaudeville jokes’ in a government-sponsored public guide. Institutions as lofty as The New York Times used the term ‘lame vaudeville gag’ to describe the area as late as 1955.
- Fun Fact #2: A common expression around the same time was ‘by way of Carnarsie’, used to describe taking the long way around to get somewhere, figuratively or literally.
- Fun Fact #3, because good things come in threes. The CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schulz, was born and raised in Canarsie! Canarsians: building things since 1652.
The borders of Canarsie, according to NYC.GOV, are Linden Boulevard, Paerdegat Basin, Fresh Creek Basin, and Jamaica Bay. There are three major commercial corridors within those borders: Flatlands Avenue, Avenue L and Rockaway Parkway.
Canarsie falls into the postal zip code 11236, which also covers the Flatlands neighborhood. Parts of these two neighborhoods also fall into zip codes 11234 and 11239. The Canarsie Station Post Office serves the neighborhood on Flatlands Avenue.
Is Canarsie Safe?
The 69th precinct of the New York Police Department patrols Canarsie. Police say that Canarsie is a tough place for law enforcement and are vowing to increase patrols, as reported in the aforementioned Canarsie Courier. Authorities propose a couple solutions for addressing safety concerns, including strong block associations and creating community programs for the youth.
The highest number of felony assaults occur at 93rd street and Avenue L and Farragut Road from 105th to 106th street. The highest number of robberies occur on Glenwood Road between 103rd and 105th streets. It is also advised to stay away from Rockaway Parkway and Flatlands Avenue.
One way to protect yourself is to learn to read a crime map, to analyze and be aware of where crimes are most likely to happen. Crime maps are easily accessible on the web courtesy of the New York Police Department.
The most common crimes in Canarsie are burglary, larceny, and robbery. Violent crimes such as murder and rape are rare. However, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and to take precautions to protect yourself from crime, such as locking your doors and windows and avoiding walking alone at night.
The Canarsie Police Precinct is committed to keeping the neighborhood safe. The precinct has a number of community policing initiatives in place, including regular foot patrols and community meetings. The precinct also works closely with community organizations to address crime and safety concerns.
Here are some tips for staying safe in Canarsie:
- Be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking alone at night.
- If you see something suspicious, report it to the police.
- Lock your doors and windows when you are home or away.
- Install a security system if possible.
- Get to know your neighbors and watch out for each other.
If you are considering moving to Canarsie, it is important to do your research and choose a neighborhood that is safe for you and your family. You can also talk to the Canarsie Police Precinct to learn more about the crime rate in the area.
Here are some additional thoughts on the safety of Canarsie:
- Canarsie is a diverse neighborhood with a strong sense of community. Many residents are involved in local organizations and work together to keep the neighborhood safe.
- The Canarsie Police Precinct is proactive in addressing crime and safety concerns. The precinct has a number of community policing initiatives in place, and it works closely with community organizations.
- While Canarsie is a relatively safe neighborhood, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and to take precautions to protect yourself from crime.
Overall, Canarsie is a safe neighborhood with a strong sense of community. However, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and to take precautions to protect yourself from crime.
Canarsie Crime Statistics
Felony assaults and robberies are much higher than the national average, but murder and even property crime rates are way lower. Canarsie is sixty-four percent safer than the rest of New York City, a place which has been weathering a 5% year-over-year increase in crime.
In recent polls, seventy three percent of residents say they feel very safe. Forty-two percent say the police are visible but respond a little slowly. About sixty percent say there is little to virtually no crime and forty percent say they feel extremely safe walking alone day or night. However, thirty percent say they do not feel very safe.
Here are some crime statistics for Canarsie, Brooklyn, New York, according to the New York City Police Department (NYPD):
- Crime Rate: 4.9 crimes per 1,000 residents (lower than the citywide average of 5.1 crimes per 1,000 residents)
- Most Common Crimes: Burglary, larceny, robbery
- Violent Crimes: Murder and rape are rare.
- Crime Trends: The crime rate in Canarsie has been declining in recent years. In 2024, there were 850 fewer crimes reported in Canarsie than in 2013.
Current crime stats for the 69th precinct can be found on their web page and are updated weekly.
Canarsie is designated as a working to middle-class neighborhood with an urban-suburban mix. Canarsie is also recognized for the vibrant and notable Caribbean community, appropriate for a place so close to “Jamaica.”
The median income in Canarsie is around seventy-one thousand USD per year, according to NYC.GOV. That income is eleven thousand USD higher than the average annual income in the whole of Brooklyn combined. Sixty-four percent of the population are in the workforce, while one in eleven people are unemployed. But the poverty rate is still less than in Brooklyn and the rest of New York City.
Canarsie is also a little more densely packed than New York City when you consider all the five boroughs, but less than the borough it resides in, Brooklyn, as a whole. The population of Canarsie is around ninety thousand people. It is considered a low-population area.
As mentioned previously, Canarsie fell victim to the eighties syndrome known as ‘white flight.’ Today, most of the population is black, with fewer than five thousand residents identifying as “white”. Forty-six percent of the 84% black percentage of Canarsie residents hail from the West Indies. Hispanic residents number between five and ten thousand.
The majority of residents fall into the middle-aged or young category. The median age is thirty seven. Fifty-five percent of the population are between the ages of twenty five and sixty four. Twenty percent are aged six to twenty four. The rest are elderly or under age five.
Canarsie Real Estate In 2024
The buildings in Canarsie range from row houses to one or two family detached and semi-detached houses. The ratio of renters to homeowners is pretty even at fifty-one to forty-nine percent. The area has a higher homeownership rate, sixty percent, which is double the citywide rate.
The median rent in Canarsie is around fifteen hundred dollars. The cost of buying a home is a median average of six hundred thousand dollars. Rent burden, which refers to the percentage of residents who have trouble paying their rent, is fifty percent, just a hair lower than the Brooklyn and New York citywide averages.
In recent polls, forty one percent of residents characterize housing as affordable in Canarsie. However, only fifty-five percent of residents say the interior quality of homes is good or excellent and only thirty six percent report the exterior quality of homes as good or excellent. Only nine percent feel there is a diverse offering of homes in the area.
Here are some statistics about the real estate market in Canarsie, Brooklyn, New York:
- Median home sale price: $665,000 (August 2023) Year-over-year change: +10.8% Median home price per square foot: $501 (August 2023) Year-over-year change: +0.3% Median days on market: 60 (August 2023) Year-over-year change: +2 days Ratio of renters to homeowners: 51% to 49% Median rent: $1,500 per month (August 2023) Rent burden: 50% (percentage of residents who have trouble paying their rent) Homeownership rate: 60% (double the citywide rate)
Overall, the real estate market in Canarsie is relatively strong, with home prices and rents rising steadily in recent years. The neighborhood is also a good mix of renters and homeowners, with a slightly higher rate of homeownership than the citywide average.
Here are some additional statistics that may be of interest:
- The most common type of housing in Canarsie is detached single-family homes.
- The most popular neighborhoods for homebuyers in Canarsie are Flatlands, East Flatbush, and Brownsville.
- The Canarsie school district is ranked as “fair” by GreatSchools.org.
- The crime rate in Canarsie is slightly lower than the citywide average.
Canarsie Health Statistics
Eighty-nine percent of Canarsie residents report their health as excellent or very good and according to the latest NYC Health+ report, have an average life expectancy of eighty-two years. Over eighty percent of residents report engaging in exercise and physical activity in the past month and eating fruits and vegetables daily.
The percentage of fine particulate matter concentrated in the air, which is the deadliest air pollutant, is lower than the borough and citywide averages. However, the number of obese residents and those with high blood pressure is significantly higher than the average for the rest of the city.
Access to health care is in good shape in Canarsie – only 9% of residents are without health insurance. A number of hospitals serve the area, including Kingsboro Canarsie Medical Center, Bayview Medical Center and the Brooklyn Hospital Center.
Here are some specific statistics about Canarsie health statistics:
- Heart disease: Canarsie residents are 1.5 times more likely to die from heart disease than the citywide average.
- Stroke: Canarsie residents are 1.3 times more likely to die from stroke than the citywide average.
- Diabetes: Canarsie residents are 1.4 times more likely to have diabetes than the citywide average.
- Asthma: Canarsie residents are 1.2 times more likely to have asthma than the citywide average.
Canarsie residents are also more likely to experience mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. According to a recent survey, 20% of Canarsie residents reported experiencing serious emotional distress in the past month.
There are a number of factors that contribute to the health disparities in Canarsie. These include:
- Income: Canarsie residents have a lower median income than the citywide average. This can make it difficult for residents to afford healthy food and housing, and to access quality healthcare.
- Education: Canarsie residents have a lower educational attainment level than the citywide average. This can make it difficult for residents to understand and follow health information, and to advocate for their health needs.
- Environment: Canarsie is located near highways and industrial areas, which can expose residents to air pollution and other environmental hazards.
- Access to healthcare: Canarsie has fewer doctors and other healthcare providers per capita than the citywide average. This can make it difficult for residents to access quality healthcare.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is working to address the health disparities in Canarsie through a variety of initiatives, including:
- Increasing access to healthcare: The city is investing in community health centers and other primary care providers in Canarsie.
- Promoting healthy lifestyles: The city is working to educate residents about the importance of healthy eating, exercise, and other healthy behaviors.
- Addressing environmental hazards: The city is working to reduce air pollution and other environmental hazards in Canarsie.
Despite the challenges, there are some positive signs in Canarsie. For example, the city’s efforts to increase access to healthcare have led to a decrease in the number of residents who are uninsured. And, community organizations are working to promote healthy lifestyles and to address the social determinants of health, such as poverty and housing instability.
It is important to note that these statistics are averages and that there is a great deal of variation within Canarsie. Some residents are very healthy, while others experience significant health challenges. There are also a number of factors that contribute to an individual’s health, including genetics, lifestyle, and environment.
One advantage of Canarsie is easy access to transportation, which makes it easier to live or work there.
Forty-three percent of commuters use the subway to get to and from Canarsie. Twenty-one percent use the bus, fourteen percent walk and twelve percent use their personal vehicle. About three times as many people live in Canarsie and work elsewhere than work in Canarsie and live somewhere else.
The major subway line is the L train, aka the elevated train, which ends at the Rockaway/Canarsie station. Many buses are available – the B6, B82, B17, B42, B60 and B103 all serve the area. Cars can access Canarsie from the Belt Parkway.
- Subway: Canarsie is served by the B and L subway lines. The Rockaway Parkway station is the main subway station in Canarsie, and it provides service to Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.
- Bus: Canarsie is served by a number of bus lines, including the B6, B82, and B17 buses. These buses provide service to other parts of Brooklyn, as well as to Manhattan and Queens.
- Rail: Canarsie is served by the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). The Canarsie-Rockaway Parkway station provides service to Manhattan, Queens, and Nassau County.
- Car: Canarsie is also accessible by car. The neighborhood is located near the Belt Parkway and the Jackie Robinson Parkway, which provide easy access to other parts of Brooklyn, as well as to Manhattan and Queens.
The average weekday subway ridership is over three and a half thousand, monthly bus riders are in the hundreds of thousands, and average daily vehicular traffic is over thirty thousand in some areas.
Forty-five percent of residents report parking to be readily available in recent polls. Seventeen percent say it will be hard to find.
Other Transportation Options: Canarsie is also home to a number of other transportation options, including taxis, ride-hailing services, and bike-sharing.
Canarsie Schools And Libraries
The majority of Carnasie residents’ highest level of education achieved is a high school diploma. The rate of elementary school absenteeism is slightly lower than the citywide average and the rate of students who graduate high school on time is eighty percent.
Two troubled high schools closed in Canarsie in 2006, by order of the mayor. In fact, the ones that were at the center of the zoning disputes that fueled the ‘white flight’ of the eighties. The New York City Department Of Education runs six public schools in the neighborhood. Most of the public schools in Canarsie are considered above average.
Fun Fact! The oldest published newspaper in Brooklyn is still operating. It’s called the Canarsie Courier and it was founded on April 22, 1921. A strong press goes a long way towards maintaining a well-educated populace.
The Brooklyn Public Library has two branches operating in Canarsie and has had to relocate twice to accommodate high patronage.
Canarsie For Families With Kids
Families with children account for thirty percent of residents in Canarsie and twenty five percent of residents called the neighborhood family-oriented in recent polls.
Canarsie is bustling with parks and shopping centers, so it is a pleasing and healthy environment for children. The Canarsie Pier is a National Recreation Area. NYC Parks operates many other parks in the area, including five playgrounds. The playgrounds include handball courts, basketball courts and fitness areas.
The biggest park in the area is Canarsie Park, AKA Seaview Park, which offers baseball, basketball and tennis courts plus soccer fields and an area for doggie fitness. The two shopping centers are Canarsie Plaza and Brooklyn Terminal market.
Canarsie is overseen by Brooklyn Community District 18, which is also responsible for some of the surrounding neighborhoods. Canarsie is represented on the New York City Council by the 42nd and 46th districts.
The current representative for the 46th District is Mercedes Narcisse – what a name! – who is a Democrat. The representative for the 42nd district is also a Democrat. Charles Barron, succeeding his wife, who was unable to run again because of term limits. All in the family!
In The NY State Senate, Canarsie is represented by Roxanne Persaud, another Democrat. Canarsie is in the 8th congressional district, served by Hakeem Jeffries in the House of Representatives. Mr. Jeffries is the House Minority Leader.
Is Canarsie Safe? The Verdict
Canarsie has many strengths but faces some challenges in the area of public safety. Opportunities for improvement, as evaluated by professionals, include improving inadequate public resources, clearing up congestion and adding better lighting. With a few upgrades, Canarsie could be the way to go!
Born and raised amidst the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple, I’ve witnessed the city’s many exciting phases. When I’m not exploring the city or penning down my thoughts, you can find me sipping on a cup of coffee at my favorite local café, playing chess or planning my next trip. For the last twelve years, I’ve been living in South Williamsburg with my partner Berenike.