Neighborhood in north central Brooklyn
, New York City
. It was made notorious by the racial tensions simmering and occasionally erupting between the Black and Hasidic Jew
Crown Heights is situated along Eastern Parkway to the east of the Brooklyn Museum and Prospect Park area. To the east is Prospect Heights and to the north is Bedford-Stuyvessant, both neighborhoods of the Brownstone Belt that developed in the later part of the 19th century due to their location along the elevated commuter railway lines of early Brooklyn. Crown Heights remained rather undeveloped until the completion of Eastern Parkway in the first decade of the 20th century, and the Brooklyn IRT subway line under it in the decade following. It initially developed as a middle class neighborhood. The row homes lining Eastern Parkway were often grand, while the row homes on the side streets were less grand. Generally, the farther east one goes in Crown Heights, the more common it is to find apartment buildings instead of row houses. The neighborhood is transitional between the brownstone neighborhoods to the east and north, which developed earlier as upper middle class districts, and the neighborhoods of small homes, row houses, and projects to the south and east which developed later as working class neighborhoods.
The initial residents were a mixture of upwardly mobile German Jews and white protestant Brooklynites. After the war, the demographics shifted toward African American, as in nearby Bed-Stuy and Prospect Heights. Proximity to the shady neighborhood of housing projects to the east known as Brownsville helped to move Crown Heights along the path of urban decay. In the 80's the demographics shifted again, as an impoverished sect of Hasidic Jews established themselves in the neighborhood and reproduced heartily as they tend to. An influx of immigrants from the Caribbean changed the accent of the black population. In recent years, the West Indian Day parade which makes its way down Eastern Parkway every fall has been the largest West Indian festival in the U.S.
In the 80's, tension was growing between the Hasidic and Black populations, and exploded in 1990 following the shooting death of a Hasidic student and the running over of a black girl by a car carrying the Hasidic sect's chief rabbi. The resulting riots helped sully the reputation of mayor David Dinkins. Since then, the neighborhood has quieted, and the two groups seem to coexist in peace.