Crown Heights. How is it? Should I move there? Is it a safe place to live? Let’s find out all we need to know about Crown Heights.
The Historical Tapestry of Crown Heights
New York City is split into five boroughs: Manhattan, which is an island. The Bronx, which is on the same island. Queens and Brooklyn are over the river and accessible by bridges and tunnels. And finally, Staten Island, which as its name suggests is also an island.
The Boroughs came to be in 1898 as a result of a consolidated city charter. Each of these boroughs are constituted by a collection of smaller, diverse neighborhoods, each with their own name.
Understanding Crown Heights: Safety and Livability
Crown Heights is a neighborhood in Brooklyn. It lies in Central Brooklyn. It is divided in two sections, Crown Heights North and South.
A notable fact about Crown Heights is that it includes an historic area known as “Weeksville”. Weeksville was founded by free slaves in 1838, 11 years after the abolition of slavery in New York. It was established by an entirely African-American coalition.
Crown Heights has gone through significant mutations over the decades but now is becoming a primarily gentrified neighborhood, while retaining its old-school village charm. It might even be safer than ever.
Another attraction of Crown Heights is the affordability of things in comparison to other parts of New York City. Crown Heights is bordered by Atlantic Avenue on the north side, Empire Boulevard on the south, Ralph Avenue on the east side, and Washington Avenue on the west.
From Dutch Settlement to Modern Urbanization
In the 17th century, the Dutch established a settlement in the area as part of their colony of New Netherland. They purchased land from the Native Americans and named it Breuckelen, which would later become Brooklyn.
British Rule and American Revolution
The British took control of the area in 1664, and it remained under their rule until the end of the American Revolutionary War in 1783. The area was primarily farmland during this time, and the British used it as a strategic location during the Battle of Long Island in 1776.
Development and Urbanization
In the 19th century, Crown Heights began to transform from farmland to a more urban environment. The opening of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883 and the subsequent development of the subway system allowed for easier access to Manhattan, spurring growth in the neighborhood. The area was initially known as Crow Hill, which later became Crown Heights.
Architectural Marvels of Crown Heights
In the early 20th century, Crown Heights experienced a boom in residential construction. The neighborhood became known for its elegant architecture, particularly its rowhouses and apartment buildings, which showcased a variety of styles including Victorian, Italianate, and Renaissance Revival.
Demographic Evolution and Its Impact
The demographic makeup of Crown Heights changed significantly throughout the 20th century. The neighborhood initially had a predominantly white population, but during the Great Migration, African Americans began moving into the area in large numbers. By the mid-20th century, Crown Heights had become one of the most significant African American communities in New York City. The area also attracted immigrants from the Caribbean, particularly in the latter half of the century.
The Unsettling Times: Racial Strife in Crown Heights
Crown Heights experienced racial tensions during the 20th century, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s when the neighborhood faced economic decline and rising crime rates. The most notable incident occurred in 1991, when a series of events, including a fatal car accident involving a Hasidic Jewish driver and a Black child, led to several days of rioting and violence between the Black and Jewish communities.
The Modern Face of Crown Heights: Revitalization and Change
In recent decades, Crown Heights has experienced a resurgence, with an increase in cultural and economic development. The neighborhood has become more diverse, with new residents from various backgrounds moving in. However, this has also led to concerns about gentrification and the displacement of longtime residents.
The Cultural Mosaic: Who Lives in Crown Heights?
What is the population of Crown Heights? You could say it’s the definition of diverse. The number of different cultures that have settled in Crown Heights over the decades is what brings the flavor to this unique hood.
So who will be your neighbors? Depends on if you live in Crown Heights North or Crown Heights South. North is 10% white, 74% African-American, 11% Latino and the rest mixed. South is 25% white, 62% African-American, Latinos 8.6% and the rest mixed.
Crown Heights remains primarily African-American, with immigrants from the Carribean and the West Indies plus Afro-Panamians. There is a large population of Hasidic Jews that maintain a presence in Crown Heights society. Young hipster professionals have also been moving in, attracted by low prices.
Residents come from multiple socio economic backgrounds but the unifying factor is community. Neighbors tend to play sports together and have parties. The kind of folks who will wave when they pass you by.
Crown Heights Real Estate: A Glimpse into the Market
Believe it or not, a long time ago, a section of Crown Heights called St. Mark’s District had more millionaires living in it than any other part of Brooklyn! Memories of this bygone era remain in the form of gothic mansions. That’s why some former residents still host walking tours.
Some of the architectural styles on display in Crown Heights include Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Georgian, Baroque, Queen Anne, Romanesque Revival, Renaissance Revival, and Beaux-Arts. Sadly, ninety percent of the mansions were torn down between 1925 and 1930 and replaced with standard six-apartment structures.
The value of houses considered middle tier are median six-figures. And upper – the average is around 850,000 dollars. Many properties cost upwards of one million. You can find adequate dwellings for as low as 200,000. The average rate per square foot is 35.00. Most buildings are low-rise.
Rent is pretty cheap by comparison to the rest of New York City. While average rent is a bargain 1,659 dollars, a one-bedroom will run you upwards of and at least 2,000. Multi-Family homes and single dwellings are available. The average square footage is 845.
However, supply is low and demand is high.
Crown Heights Schools
The general level of education in Crown Heights is pretty much on par with the rest of the city. About half the residents are college-educated or have at least some college.
Crown Heights has a wide network of uniquely diverse High School educational facilities as well as Medgar Evers College and a number of gender-segregated schools. It is a good place to educate a child.
If you want to self-educate, you’re in the right place. Crown Heights is home to three NYPL libraries, including the Eastern Parkway branch, which was renovated as recently as 2016. Plus, museums aplenty, including Brooklyn Museum and Weeksville Heritage Center, plus two museums for children – Brooklyn Children’s Museum and Jewish Children’s Museum.
Political Representation in Crown Heights
Crown Heights is tied to a fair amount of congressional representation. It’s part of the 9th NY Congressional district, 19th and 20th State Senate districts, 34th and 57th State Assembly districts and the 35th and 36th City Council districts.
The neighborhood is represented locally by Brooklyn Community Boards Eight and Nine, depending on your side of Eastern Parkway.
Safety in Crown Heights: A Closer Look At Crime Statistics
Crown Heights is served by two NYPD precincts:
- Crown Heights North: 77th Precinct, located at 127 Utica Avenue
- Crown Heights South: 71st Precinct, located at 421 Empire Boulevard
In 2010, the 77th Precinct was ranked 42nd out of 69 patrol areas for per-capita crime, while the 71st Precinct ranked 46th.
Violent Crime Rates (2018)
- Crown Heights North: 85 non-fatal assaults per 100,000 people
- Crown Heights South: 73 non-fatal assaults per 100,000 people
Both areas have higher rates of violent crimes per capita compared to the city as a whole.
Incarceration Rates (2018)
- Crown Heights North: 872 per 100,000 people
- Crown Heights South: 598 per 100,000 people
Both areas have higher incarceration rates compared to the city as a whole.
Crime Rate Reduction
Both precincts have experienced a significant decrease in crime since the 1990s:
- 77th Precinct: 85.7% reduction between 1990 and 2018
- 71st Precinct: 82.7% reduction between 1990 and 2018
2018 Crime Statistics
- 2 murders
- 32 rapes
- 180 robberies
- 297 felony assaults
- 158 burglaries
- 397 grand larcenies
- 72 grand larcenies auto
- 8 murders
- 26 rapes
- 166 robberies
- 349 felony assaults
- 143 burglaries
- 464 grand larcenies
- 68 grand larcenies auto
The crime rate has decreased significantly since the nineties, down over 85%. In a 2010 study, the two precincts ranked 41st and 46th safest precincts, respectively, out of 69 total.
Residents say the neighborhood feels both safer and quieter and they feel comfortable walking around any time of day or night.
The NYFD manages four fire stations throughout Crown Heights.
Culinary Delights: Dining in Crown Heights
Ahh, Crown Heights is stuffed with yumminess. A true multiverse of flavors: Korean Fried Chicken, two sushi restaurants, an all-vegan eatery, somewhere around four Indian restaurants and two burrito and Latino cuisine joints. And then there’s all the Caribbean tastiness.
The main commercial streets are Nostrand, Kingston and Franklin Avenues. Franklin Avenue is where you will discover most of the fu-fu food. If you want to go Kosher, try the Kingston area. One spot locals call “kosher” is Gombo’s Heimishie Bakery. Nostrand is like the “Little Indies”.
BBQ and Brisket? Try Izzy’s BBQ. Chavela’s for Mexican and patio dining. Sushi Spot and Nori Bar are two sushi places esteemed by locals. They are both on Kingston Avenue, which you also find Jenny’s, a Dominican place known for its pancakes.
And what is New York City without Pizza? The best pizza place in Crown Heights is Barbacino, which boasts a wood oven, also on Franklin Avenue. Also, don’t miss Butter and Scotch, which mixes baked goods with booze.
For home dining ingredients and assorted treats, there is a great Farmer’s Market near Eastern Parkway. Many residents say their favorite thing to do on Saturday Morning is take a walk around the market.
Transportation and transit in Crown Heights function like the rest of the system in the five boroughs. Believe it or not, a lot of people just cycle around. Eastern Parkway is a nice place for a leisurely pedal.
To get around locally, there are a number of buses offered. To get into downtown Manhattan, it takes only about 45 minutes by subway, or even less sometimes. Most major subway lines pass through Crown Heights. You can catch the 2,3,4 or 5 and the A,C,B, and Q nearby and accessible via the Franklin Avenue shuttle.
The Franklin Avenue shuttle is another option that links the neighborhood and also crosses into other parts of Brooklyn. There are also Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) stops in Crown Heights that will take you out to Strong, I mean, Long Island.
Pro Tip: Don’t take a job above 42nd Street. The commute is exhausting.
Crown Heights Attractions: What’s the Buzz About?
There are so many attractions in Crown Heights, starting with the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, which help light up the district.
Every year on Labor Day Crown Heights hosts the West Indies Day Parade. Originally started in Harlem, the parade was transplanted and name-checked by Jay-Z himself in his NYC anthem “Empire State Of Mind”. As many as three million people convene to watch the elaborate dances and admire the extravagant costumes.
There are a lot of Parks in Crown Heights, first and foremost Brooklyn’s biggest park, Prospect Park, which runs through Crown Heights. There is also Brower Park near the Children’s Museum and the city is pouring millions of dollars into upgrading Stroud Playground. Lincoln Terrace Park is also a community hub with green spaces and basketball courts.
Not too far a walk is The Barclay Center, home of the eponymous Brooklyn basketball team, the Brooklyn Nets.
And other neighborhoods are easy to reach, such as Bushwick, if you are looking for a thriving nightlife, or Kings Theatre, a notable performance space in nearby Flatbush.
Raising a Family in Crown Heights
Crown Heights is a great place to raise children. Great public elementary schools, high schools, and private institutions, are all within walking distance. And it’s safe for your kids to walk there.
Plenty of outdoor recreation for the kids. All the aforementioned parks, some of which include everything from baseball fields to tennis courts to handball courts!
Overall, Crown Heights is considered by its residents to be very family-friendly with a warm and healthy sense of community. There are plenty of activities for families to enjoy together, inside and out.
What To Crown Heights: Points of Caution Out For
- Parking is becoming more scarce due to new bike lanes. There is some traffic congestion and complaints about rats – but that’s New York livin’, right?
- There is a shortage of available housing in the center. You might have to look on the outskirts.
- Also, be aware that the Western and Eastern parts can feel very different.
- Overall, women can feel safe walking through Crown Heights, Thanks to increased police monitoring and an overall drop in crime in the city. Also, new residents tend to be wealthier than the old ones, moving along the process of gentrification in a positive direction.
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.