brooklyn- bedford-stuyvesant

Pict0005.jpg (144320 bytes) Pict0046.jpg (144982 bytes) Pict0081.jpg (129354 bytes) 
001 Boys’ High School 002 St. George’s Episc. Church 003 IBM Products Division 004 John Wesley United Meth. Church 005 250 Gates Ave
006 146 Jefferson Ave 007 Enoch Grand Lodge 008 Clinton Apartments 009 Renaissance Apartments 010 Alhambra Apartments 
011 228 Jefferson Ave 012 240 Jefferson Ave 013 232 Hancock St 014 236-244 Hancock St 015 246-252 Hancock St
016 John C. Kelley House 017 255-259 Hancock St. 018 273 Hancock St 019 287 Hancock St 020 113-137 Bainbridge St
021 293 Decatur St 022 Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church 023 Fulton Storage Building 024 Clermont Apartments 025 First African Methodist 
  ECS2.jpg (45019 bytes)
026 Stuyvesant Heights Christian Church 027 Excellence Charter School


B E D F O R D - S T U Y V E S A N T 

Bedford-Stuvvesant is the amalgam of two middle-class communities of the old City of Brooklyn: Bedford, the western por­tion, and Stuyvesant Heights, to the east. Today's Bedford­Stuyvesant is one of the city's two major black enclaves; the other is its peer, Harlem. Bed-Stuy differs from its Manhattan counterpart in its much larger percentage of home owners, although Harlem is rapidly following its lead in gentriying its own blocks. The southern and western portions comprise masonry row housing of distinguished architectural quality and vigorous churches whose spires contribute to the area's fre­quently lacy skyline. The northeastern reaches have considerable numbers of wooden tenements, containing some of the nation's worst slums. But on the whole, Bed-Stuy has a reputation that doesn't fit with reality: a stable community with hundreds of blocks of well-kept town houses.Where Bedford-Stuyvesant has distinguished architecture, it is very good. Its facades of brownstones and brickfronts create a magnificent townscape as good as-and sometimes better than-many fashionable areas of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Parts of Chauncey, Decatur, MacDonough, and Macon Streets, and the southern end of Stuyvesant Avenue, are superb. Hancock Street, between Nostrand and Tompkins Avenues, was considered a showplace in its time (why not now too?). Alice and Agate Courts, short cul-de-sacs isolated from the macro­cosm of the street system, are particularly special places in the seemingly endless, anonymous grid.
Bed-Stuy comprises roughly 2,000 acres and houses 400,000 people, making it among the 30 largest American cities.

Click here for Article- "Bed-Stuy on the Move" by Mathias Echanove.

Click here for a typical Bed-Stuy family history.

Interview with Lai Jin Wong 

Excerpted and adapted from A History of Bedford-Stuyvesant, researched and written by Lai Jin Wong, CLASP/Library Materials Specialist

Interviewer (Barbara Auerbach): I know you have done a lot of research on the history of the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. Although the Brooklyn Expedition offers a brief history of the area, I would like to expand upon Aisha’s brief account to give a clearer understanding of how and why the neighborhood has changed, particularly in the last 100 years. How did the population of Bedford change in the late 1800s?

Ms. Wong: Cheaper housing, lower taxes, and an increased ease of travel attracted people to Bedford. By 1873, Bedford’s population had reached 14,000. Residents of the area included Irish, Germans, Jews, Scots, Dutch, and Blacks. The 1883 opening of the Brooklyn Bridge trolley lines and the 1885 opening of the elevated railroad along Fulton Street only increased the number of people choosing to settle here. By the beginning of the 1900s, greater Bedford was transforming from a suburban to an urban neighborhood. Between 1880 and 1900 a number of apartment buildings were built to house an increasing middle class population.

Interviewer: What changes occurred at this time in the neighboring Stuyvesant Heights?

Ms. Wong: Stuyvesant Heights experienced a similar development. Like Bedford, it retained its agricultural ways well into the 1800s. In fact, in 1869 it was still primarily rural. Any of the homes in this area were built between the 1880s and the 1920s. Stuyvesant Heights took its name from its main avenue, named for Peter Stuyvesant, the last Dutch governor of New Netherlands. Early Stuyvesant Heights houses included a number of mansions. The New York Landmarks Commission designated this 13-block area an historic district in 1971.

Interviewer: What was the area like in the early 1900s?

Ms. Wong: At the turn of the century, more affordable houses and apartment buildings were erected to accommodate a growing middle class population. There were a mix of large homes with gardens, single-family residences in three- or four-story buildings, and apartment buildings. Along the main business streets, one could find inexpensive housing situated above stores.

Interviewer: How did the population change in the 1920s?

Ms. Wong: As well-to-do residents left the community in the 1920s for less dense areas, Scandinavians, Irish, Italians, Russians, West Indians and Jews joined the growing Black population. The 1920s marked the start of an influx of Blacks from the South and the West Indies into Brooklyn. Overcrowding in Manhattan’s Harlem, long considered the center of New York’s black community, spurred new and old residents to look elsewhere for housing. The blacks of New York considered Fort Greene and Bedford-Stuyvesant good alternatives. Better housing opportunities and an established network of churches and social institutions helped attract Blacks to Brooklyn. By the late 1930s, the area became known as Bedford-Stuyvesant, replacing older namesakes like Bedford, Central Brooklyn, and Stuyvesant Heights.

Interviewer: What happened in the ‘30s and ‘40s that affected the population further?

Ms. Wong: The opening of the A train in 1936 helped attract more Blacks to the area. The new train cut down on travel time between Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant. Over the next 30 years, the Black population grew at a rapid rate. Many of the area’s White residents moved to new affordable homes in the suburbs and other sections of Brooklyn developed after World War II. The increasing number of Blacks received mixed responses from White residents. Initially, they tried to make sure area homes were not sold to prospective Black buyers. Still, by 1957, the number of Blacks had grown to 66% of the population. The 1930s and 1940s marked a period of physical decline in the neighborhood. A good number of buildings were in need of repair because of neglect by absentee landlords, abandonment, and inadequate funds. At the same time, the city failed to adequately carry out essential public services to maintain a community once considered an ideal place to settle. Although the population was growing, there were too few new houses; businesses; and cultural, social, and educational resources available.

Interviewer: What role did community agencies play in revitalizing the neighborhood?

Ms. Wong: Following a period of time in which newspapers often wrote about the slums and ghettos of Bedford-Stuyvesant, a number of community groups, urban renewal projects, and individuals sought to revitalize the area. Over the last 50 years, Bedford-Stuyvesant has undergone numerous developments as community groups continue to help keep their neighborhood safe, bring in businesses, restore area homes, and offer a wealth of community services and events.