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Bedford Stuyvesant

Bedford-Stuyvesant ( /ˈstaɪvəsənt/; also shortly as Bed-Stuy) is a neighborhood in the central portion of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Formed in 1930, the neighborhood is part of Brooklyn Community Board 3, Brooklyn Community Board 8 and Brooklyn Community Board 16.[1] The neighborhood is patrolled by the NYPD’s 79th[2] and 81st[3] precincts. In the City Council the district is represented by Albert Vann, of the 36th Council District.

Bedford-Stuyvesant is bordered by Flushing Avenue to the north (bordering Williamsburg); Classon Avenue to the west (bordering Clinton Hill); Broadway and Van Sinderen Avenue to the east (bordering Bushwick and East New York); and Atlantic Avenue to the south (bordering Crown Heights).[4] It is served by Postal Service zip codes 11205, 11206, 11216, 11221, 11233 and 11238.

For decades, it has been a cultural center for Brooklyn’s black population. Following the construction of the subway line between Harlem and Bedford[5] in 1936, African Americans left an overcrowded Harlem for more housing availability in Bedford-Stuyvesant. From Bedford-Stuyvesant, African Americans have since moved into the surrounding areas of Brooklyn, such as East New York, Crown Heights, Brownsville and Fort Greene.

The main north-south thoroughfare is Nostrand Avenue, but the main shopping street is Fulton Street, which lies above the main subway line for the area (A C trains). Fulton Street runs east-west the length of the neighborhood and intersects high-traffic streets including Bedford Avenue, Nostrand Avenue and Stuyvesant Avenue. Bedford-Stuyvesant is actually made up of four neighborhoods: Bedford, Stuyvesant Heights, Ocean Hill and Weeksville.

Early history

The neighborhood name is an extension of the name of the Village of Bedford, expanded to include the area of Stuyvesant Heights. The name Stuyvesant comes from Peter Stuyvesant, the last governor of the colony of New Netherland.

In pre-revolutionary Kings County, Bedford, which now forms the heart of the community, was the first major settlement east of the then Village of Brooklyn on the ferry road to the neighborhood of Jamaica and eastern Long Island.

With the building of the Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad in 1833, along Atlantic Avenue, Bedford was established as a railroad station near the intersection of current Atlantic Avenue and Franklin Avenues. In 1836, the Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad was taken over by the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). Built in 1863, the Capitoline Grounds were the home of the Brooklyn Atlantics baseball team. The Grounds were bordered by Nostrand Ave., Halsey St., Marcy Ave., and Putnam Ave. During the winters, the operators would flood the area and open a ice-skating arena. The Grounds were demolished in 1880. In 1878, the Brooklyn, Flatbush and Coney Island Railway established its northern terminal with a connection to the LIRR at the same location.

The community of Bedford contained one of the oldest free black communities in the U.S., Weeksville, much of which is still extant and preserved as a historical site. Ocean Hill, a subsection founded in 1890 is primarily a residential area.

Establishment as an urban neighborhood

African Americans migrated from the Southern United States in the early-to-mid 20th Century upon their presuit of perceived racial equality and freedoms of the north. Many African-Americans moved North in search of new industry. The Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood became a popular landing ground for African-Americans. To this day, it is widely known as the black cultural mecca of Brooklyn, similar to what Harlem is to Manhattan.

Post-war problems

Some[quantify] of the new residents who had been rural workers had difficulty finding reasonably paid work in the urban New York economy. The city itself was in a period of steady decline, exacerbated by abandonment of parts of the transportation network, disappearance of industrial jobs, decline of public facilities and services, inability to deal with increasing crime, and difficulties in municipal government.[citation needed] The movement of significant parts of its population to suburban areas ghettoized a racially diverse neighborhood.[citation needed]

1960s and 1970s

Gang wars erupted in 1961 in Bedford-Stuyvesant. During the same year, Alfred E. Clark of The New York Times referred to it as “Brooklyn’s Little Harlem.”[6] One of the first urban riots of the era took place there. Social and racial divisions in the city contributed to the tensions, which climaxed when attempts at community control in the nearby Ocean Hill-Brownsville school district pitted some black community residents and activists (from both inside and outside the area) against teachers, the majority of whom were white, many of them Jewish. Charges of racism were a common part of social tensions at the time.

In 1964, race riots broke out in the Manhattan neighborhood of Harlem after an Irish American NYPD lieutenant, Thomas Gilligan, shot and killed an African American teenager, James Powell, 15.[7] The riot spread to Bedford-Stuyvesant and resulted in the destruction and looting of many neighborhood businesses, many of which were Jewish-owned[citation needed]. Race relations between the NYPD and the city’s Black Community were (are) strained as police were (are) seen as an instrument of oppression and racially biased law enforcement; Further, at that time, few Black policemen were present on the force.[8] In predominantly Black New York neighborhoods, arrests and prosecutions for drug related crimes were higher than anywhere else in the city despite evidence that illegal drugs were used at at least the same rate in the White community, further contributing to the problems between the white dominated police force and black community. Coincidentally enough, the 1964 riot took place across the NYPD’s 28th and 32nd precinct located in Harlem, and the 79th precinct located in Bedford-Stuyvesant which at one time were the only three police precincts in the NYPD that black police officers were allowed to patrol in.[9] Race riots followed in 1967 and 1968, as part of the political and racial tensions in the United States of the era, aggravated by continued high unemployment among blacks, continued de facto segregation in housing, the failure to enforce civil rights laws.

Following the 1964 election, Robert F. Kennedy was elected as the U.S. Senator for the State of New York. One of Kennedy’s biggest tasks as Senator was combating the war on poverty as racial rioting broke out across the urban north while the issues of the civil rights movement in southern states were still more of a priority for African American rights’ activists. Rather than focus on problems facing African Americans outside of New York, Kennedy devoted a study of problems facing the urban poor in Bedford Stuyvesant as it received almost no federal aid and was the city’s largest non-white community.[10] With the help of local activists and politicians such as Civil Court Judge Thomas Jones, grassroots organizations of community members and businesses willing to aid were formed and began the rebuilding of Bedford Stuyvesant. Kennedy’s program was soon used as a nationwide model that began in Bedford Stuyvesant and would be used in other large urban areas to fight the War on Poverty.

In 1965, Andrew W. Cooper, a journalist from Bedford-Stuyvesant, brought suit under the Voting Rights Act against racial gerrymandering.[11] The lawsuit claimed that Bedford-Stuyvesant was divided among five congressional districts, each represented by a white Congress member.[12] It resulted in the creation of New York’s 12th Congressional District and the election in 1968 of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman and West Indian American ever elected to the U.S. Congress.[13] In early 1975, when Seatrain Shipbuilding Corp. inside the Brooklyn Navy Yard experienced a massive layoff of its shipbuilders, 80% of those affected living in and around Bedford-Stuyvesant, it was Congresswoman Chisholm who came to their rescue. Chisholm convinced the government to restructure existing loans and guarantee new loans backed by the VLCC’s Stuyvesant and Bay Ridge so the shipbuilders of Seatrain Shipbuilding could resume building the Stuyvesant and Bay Ridge. A case study of Seatrain Shipbuilding & the Brooklyn Navy Yard From 1968-1979 Seatrain Shipbuilding was the largest employer inside the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Seatrain Shipbuilding provided an est $750,000,000 in economic stimulus to the City of New York by way of their shipbuilding activities from 1968-1979 inside the Brooklyn Navy Yard.[citation needed]

In 1977, a power outage occurred throughout all of New York City due to a power failure at the Con Edison Plant. Bedford-Stuyvesant and neighboring Bushwick were two of the worst hit areas. Thirty-five blocks of Broadway, the street dividing the two communities, were affected, with 134 stores looted, 45 of which were set ablaze.[citation needed]

Bushwick Wyckoff Heights Greenpoint Little Poland Williamsburg East Williamsburg Bedford-Stuyvesant

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