As one of the five boroughs that make up New York City, Brooklyn, is the most populous. If it were to be its own separate city, it would be the third-largest in the United States, right after Los Angeles and Chicago, although those stats may soon change. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the borough’s population has grown by 5.3 percent since 2010 and is likely to surpass Chicago in population for the first time since 1890.

Brooklyn, (otherwise known as “Breuckelen” in the 1600s) was one of six small towns occupied by Dutch settlers. The land changed hands up until the 19th century when American settlers moved in and the city began to rise in notoriety. As the borough went through a transformation, it was renamed to its present-day moniker and in 1868 consolidated with New York City.

Dating back over 350 years, Brooklyn was a popular destination for immigrants in the United States, and today, it continues to be a sought-after place to put down roots. With an estimated population of 2.6 million people, it has long been known as a melting pot for many different cultures.

The residents, all from different cultural backgrounds, are what make the borough so unique. From their similarities to their differences, and even their grit, native “Brooklynites” often take for granted their “uniqueness” because it’s always been a part of who they are.

Like a magnet, Brooklyn continuously attracts new buyers. The beauty, history, and accessibility to mostly anything one might want, or need are big selling points when it comes to finding the perfect location.

Throughout the years, the different cultures and ethnicities are what have made up the rich tapestry of this city. As the years go by, the cultural map of Brooklyn has changed as a result of its population. The constant influx in immigrants moving in offsets the number of residents who move out of state to other parts of the country. So as one group leaves in search of real estate elsewhere, newer groups come in and replace them, and what we once believed to be an area highly populated by one culture may no longer hold true. Yet despite the changes, which can be seen and felt throughout all neighborhoods, the one constant that remains is the borough’s spirit.

Breaking Down the Brooklyn Neighborhoods

For example, in the middle of the 20th century, the Brownsville section of Brooklyn was compromised of mainly people of the Jewish religion whereas today the neighborhood is home to many African Americans, along with Bedford-Stuyvesant. The Jewish residents, both Hasidic and Orthodox, have also planted roots in neighborhoods such as Borough Park, Flatbush, Midwood, Canarsie, Crown Heights, and Williamsburg while those who are not as religious tend to settle in the areas of Park Slope, Ditmas Park, and Windsor Terrace.

Brighton Beach, which at one time was mainly a Jewish neighborhood, is now home to the largest concentration of Russians in the state. What first attracted settlers were the neighborhood’s proximity to the water; it reminded many immigrants of Odessa, their hometown which overlooked a harbor on the Black Sea. Today, both Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay boast large Ukranian and Russian populations and businesses and are appropriately nicknamed, “Little Russia” and “Little Odessa.”

You may also find certain neighborhoods popular amongst more than just one ethnic group. Bensonhurst, known as the “Little Italy” of Brooklyn, is also home to the borough’s second Chinatown (the first, and largest being in Sunset Park). It’s here you can also find the largest population of residents born in China of any neighborhood in New York City. Other neighborhoods in the Southern part of Brooklyn where the Chinese American population is present include Bath Beach, Sunset Park, Gravesend, and Homecrest, an area sometimes considered a part of Sheepshead Bay.

In addition to Bensonhurst, other neighborhoods in Southern Brooklyn with a large Italian community include Dyker Heights, Bay Ridge, Carroll Gardens, Marine Park, Mill Basin, Gravesend, and Bergen Beach.

Along with having a large Italian presence, Bay Ridge is also home to many Arab American and Muslim communities, as well as a large concentration of Irish Americans. Other Irish neighborhoods include Marine Park, Vinegar Hill, and Gerritsen Beach.

In the northern part of the city, the neighborhood of Bushwick boasts the largest Hispanic community within the borough. Approximately 80% of the population are Hispanic while the remaining percent are of Puerto Rican, Dominican, and South American descent. Other neighborhoods with a large Puerto Rican and Dominican population include East New York, Williamsburg, and Sunset Park, a neighborhood that also includes a large Mexican presence.

According to the 2010 Census the racial and ethnic breakdown of Brooklyn was as follows:

The Census, a survey conducted every 10 years in which the country counts its population, provides critical data used to bring services, products, and support for the people and their communities. The next Census is currently taking place this year; once the latest information is released in 2021, we’ll have a better understanding of the changes that have taken place over the last decade.

With a new decade under way, the Brooklyn real estate market continues to remain strong. New York City as a whole is one of the hottest housing markets in the United States and from the way the New Year is shaping up, there are no signs of a decline in the borough.

A look at the statistics for both single and multi-family homes, in both price and days on market (DOM), has remained steady. The fact that it has held strong is another indicator of the Brooklyn market’s strength. The bottom line, the borough is booming and people are continuing to put down roots. Not only is it the most populous of the five boroughs in NYC, it is the second largest in size, with an estimated population of 2.6 million people.

Rich Schulhoff, CEO of the Brooklyn MLS, believes that one of the borough’s appeals is the fact that not only is it accessible to Manhattan, it is a great community to raise a family. “It is still a borough of neighborhoods,” says Schulhoff. “And I think that is the difference.”

Within Brooklyn there are many well-known neighborhoods which have gone through a revitalization or gentrification at some point over the years.  With the ever-changing times the process of change and growth promises to continue.

According to Schulhoff, a telltale sign of growth is due in part to new developments opening up within an area. “I’ve always found that when you see businesses, especially restaurants, opening up in areas that have been somewhat neglected, you know the next step is going to be people moving in and communities changing.”

 

One neighborhood in particular Schulhoff predicts is on the verge of exploding in the form of growth and development is East New York. This diverse and growing neighborhood is located in northeast Brooklyn and was once deemed “Little Pittsburgh” due to its many industrial businesses in the early twentieth century.

Settled by Dutch colonists in the 1650’s, East New York was originally founded as the town of New Lots. Unable to find room to farm in the area known as Flatbush, they came here to settle the new lots, hence the origin of the name. Streets such as Van Siclen Avenue and Wyckoff Street were named after farmers and still exist today.

Due to rezoning in 2016, East New York, a neighborhood that has not been as sought after a location as others, we will see many changes over the coming years, which all begins now. The development of affordable housing, new retail shops, community facilities, and a public plaza, will help to invigorate the economy by providing a home for new businesses along with helping families to grow and prosper.

As the neighborhood begins its transformation, some local spots to check out include:

Maxwell’s Bakery – Serving the community since 1928, the bakery was originally known as “Essential Cheesecake” during World War II but changed names in a bid to secure a contract to provide baked goods to the troops stationed at Fort Hamilton. 2700 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn NY  11207

Highland Park – Created in 1901, this park offers stunning views of Ridgewood Reservoir, the Rockaways, and the Atlantic Ocean. A popular spot amongst residents, the park plays an important role in the community. Designated BBQ areas make it a perfect spot for a picnic with family or friends, and for those looking for some athletic recreation, there are tennis courts, baseball fields, and handball and basketball courts. Cypress Hills Street, Brooklyn NY 11207

 Shirley Chisholm State Park – The park was named after Brooklyn-born pioneer Shirley Chisholm, the first African American Congressman as well as the first woman and African American to run for President. Resting atop the former Pennsylvania and Fountain Avenue landfills, it offers views of landmarks like the Empire State building, Verrazano Bridge, New York harbor, and Jamaica Bay. One section of the park opened up last year, with the expansion set to open up in 2021.

 

In addition to East New York, two additional neighborhoods where continued growth is projected is Greenpoint, which lies right next door to the popular Williamsburg, and Coney Island, a neighborhood that has long been synonymous with Brooklyn.

No longer just Williamsburg’s “neighbor,” Greenpoint is a destination that attracts residents due in part to its close proximity to Manhattan and more affordable housing than some of the surrounding areas.

What was once a quaint countryside is now a bustling community. Like most of the borough, the area was originally farmland and as time progressed, became a popular spot for families and workers to reside because of the abundance of factory jobs. A working class and immigrant neighborhood, it’s not uncommon now to find three generations of families living in the community.

Along with a number of great places to frequent, Greenpoint is also a popular location for both TV and film. Several shows like “Blue Bloods” house their permanent soundstages in the neighborhood’s industrial area between Greenpoint Avenue and Norman Boulevard. Other shows like, “Rescue Me,” “Boardwalk Empire,” and a scene from a music video featuring rapper Jay-Z and basketball legend Lebron James are just a few of the projects filmed here.

When looking for places to go, Greenpoint has no shortage of restaurants, trendy hotels, and watering holes to grab a drink or two. Check out some of the following:

Alameda – This beautiful neighborhood bistro has been serving up delish seasonal new American fare along with classic and modern cocktails since 2013. – 195 Franklin Street, Brooklyn NY 11222

Paulie Gee’s – This cozy pizzeria serves up some of the best pizza, soups, salads, and of course dessert. If you’re looking to grab a quick slice, you can visit their slice shop for takeout or delivery. – 60 Greenpoint Avenue (dine-in only) / 110 Franklin Street (slice shop) Brooklyn NY  11222

The Diamond – One of the few bars in Brooklyn where you can play shuffleboard, video games, grab a bite and a drink, all while keeping it causal and magical. 43 Franklin Street, Brooklyn NY 11222

Sunshine Laundromat and Pinball – Have you ever seen a laundromat that offers up pinball machines and beer? Who says doing laundry can’t be fun! 860 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11222

Henry Norman Hotel – Right in the heart of everything, visitors can stay at this distinct hotel offering unique loft style suites that were once home to a 19th century textile warehouse.

 

A “go-to” neighborhood for a long time, Coney Island continues to attract visitors, especially during warmer weather. During the mid-19th century, the neighborhood was a popular seaside resort town, and on busy summer days drew in millions of people between the beaches and amusement parks.

In 1916, an entrepreneur named Nathan Handwerker took advantage of the increased number of visitors and began selling hotdogs at Coney Island for a nickel each, eventually expanding his business into the world famous Nathan’s Hot Dog chain.

Today, the presence of casual new restaurants and development of hi-rise buildings are all signs Schulhoff says of more people coming into the neighborhood.

A few “staples” to check out the next time you’re in Coney Island include:

Coney Island Cyclones game at MCU park – What better way to watch a baseball game then with a view of the water. 1904 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11224

Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog eating contestHeld annually on the Fourth of July at Nathan’s world-famous establishment. 1320 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11224

Mermaid Parade – Since 1983, this annual event, invented by artists, showcases over 3,000 creative individuals from the five borough and beyond. Starts at West 21st & Surf Avenue

Luna ParkHome of the world famous cyclone, one of the oldest wooden rollercoasters still in operation. Making its debut in June of 1927, this all-time American classic ride is not for the faint of heart. Additional rides, shops, games, and dining make this amusement park the place to be. 100 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11224

Totonno’s Pizzeria Napolitano -For the past 93 years, Totonno’s has been serving the Coney Island community. Recognized as the best pizza in New York City, this neighborhood staple went through a “rebirth” after Hurricane Sandy. 1524 Neptune Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11224

Rubys Bar & Grill – Family owned and operated since 1972, Ruby’s is the oldest bar and grill on the boardwalk, and the only place where you can still walk under the original boardwalk. No visit to Coney Island is complete without a stop at this nostalgic establishment. 1213 Riegelmann Boardwalk, Brooklyn NY 11224

Margarita Island – Open all year round, this indoor/outdoor hot spot features live music, DJ, and a place to catch the latest game on TV. During the summer grab a drink at the outdoor Tiki Bar. 1105 Bowery Street, Brooklyn NY 11224

As neighborhoods such as these, as well as others, continue to prosper, Brooklyn remains a place where people want to live and the demand for property holds strong.

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