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Monday, March 17, 2008

Heart of the Stuy

Up Nostrand, back down Marcus Garvey. Around the southern part of the area there's some really lovely Brownstone blocks - Stuyvesant Heights seems to be the sub-neighborhood. Some blocks are even landmarked as part of Stuyvesant Heights Historic District, but I don't see any of the telltale brown streetsigns. This is also the oldest African-American part of Central Brooklyn. As far back as the 1940s the greater Stuyvesant Heights area - basically between Atlantic, Lafeyette, Bedford, and Malcom X Blvd - was predominantly African-American, while neighboring neighborhoods like Brownsville were still 80% Jewish.

Central Brooklyn 2008 is a far cry what it used to be. Everything's developed - empty buildings or storefronts area at the very most one per block. A vacant lot filled with old bicycles was really the only reminder of the old Stuy I ran into. Still, Bed-Stuy is the kind of place that varies greatly from block to block. If I had turned right rather than left a couple of times I might have had a different idea of the area. In New York, even within an area as small as a census tract - or even a block - there can be really different kinds of areas.

I'm always interested to see who gets up this far out into the hood. There's plenty of local folks I don't recognize. Of the All-City types, JA is (of course) up a lot, and I see a DRO tag (old though) also. I also see a KUMA tag, and I have to say, I'm beginning to revise my estimation of the guy as only being up in Lower Manhattan and North Brooklyn. Surprisingly I run into no Jesus Saves tags. Other than maybe JA, Jesus Saves is the most All-City guy out there, although I've never seen him in tunnels, or really anywhere off the street.

The neighborhood turns from Brownstones (and the occasional other interesting architecture - some Tudor apartments and and what appears to be an old armory turned into a men's shelter) into projects as I go north. There is none of the Hassidic bleed down south of Flushing over here like there is around the Marcy Projects - Flushing avenue still serves as the dividing line between African-American Bed-Stuy and Puerto Rican/Hassidic Williamsburg.

I also take in a few tracts south of Atlantic in Crown Heights. What's interesting to me is that the Lubavitchers have no presence north of Eastern Parkway, even around Brooklyn Avenue where the community is centered. I go nuts for a Hassidic lady in a tight long jean skirt pushing a stroller down Eastern Parkway. The Lubavitchers are definitely becoming more and more secular influenced in dress and lifestyle. I wouldn't even really call them Hassidic anymore (although definitely frum) - they're more of their own strange thing. It's hard for me to tell where Crown Heights becomes predominantly Caribbean rather than African American - again, I'm going to go nuts for the 2010 census data.

Neighborhoods: Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Stuyvesant Heights, Williamsburg. Tracts Walked: B339, B341, B313, B269, B267, B265, B263, B261, B259.01, B257, B507, B283, B281, B279, B277, B275, B273, B311, B343

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