Also a residential neighborhood in south-central Brooklyn
, sharing vague borders with Windsor Terrace
and Greenwood Cemetery
on the North, Prospect Park South and/or Ditmas Park and Flatbush
on the East, Sunset Park
and Boro Park
on the West, and Midwood on the South. The area was farmland and part of the town of Flatbush when it was annexed by the expanding city of Brooklyn in the late 19th century, and became an undeveloped part of the new greater New York City
along with the rest of Brooklyn in 1898.
Kensington was developed as an upper middle class suburban neighborhood at the turn of the 20th century. In that era, with the rise of the private automobile, upper middle class American neighborhoods were moving from the Brownstone model of elegant row houses right up against the street to large detached homes with small lawns. Thus Kensington is one of a few Brooklyn neighborhoods, along with nearby Ditmas Park and Prospect Park South, to develop in this manner, in the brief 10 year window of time between the end of the brownstone era and the beginning of the era in which Brooklyn development became oriented toward housing the working class and immigrants. Kensington is therefore a rather unique neighborhood, with its rather large stately houses and tree-lined grid of streets that have remain long after the gentry that built them have moved on.
Ever improving public transportation links in Brooklyn throughout the early 20th century brought the working class and immigrants to formerly gentry neighborhoods. The Independent Subway arrived in Kensington in the 30s with the stop at Church Avenue, at that point the end of the Crosstown Line (See F Train). Kensington was an is home to the classic Brooklyn ethnic mix, but has largely remained a middle class area. In the 40s, 50s, and 60s, the streets of individual houses were complimented by apartment complexes built along Ocean Parkway and other avenues.
Today Kensington features huge populations of Russian, Eastern European, and Pakistani immigrants, as well as a sizeable population of Hasidic Jews, along with a few Mexicans and Asians, and a few older Irish, Italian, and Jewish residents. At the intersection of Church Avenue and McDonald, one will hear conversations and see signs in a babble of languages. Based on personal observation, I would say that the subway stop at Church is one of the busiest residential stops on the New York City subway.
Of late Kensington has received some spillover from Windsor Terrace and has become home to some young recent college graduates attracted by the quiet safe streets and low(er) rents. Apartments in what were formerly considered Kensington are now advertised as being in Windsor Terrace, just as similar real estate manouvering had seen Park Slope subsume parts of Windsor Terrace.