After 1965, New York saw a huge influx of immigrants due to a change in federal immigration law. From 1970-1989, the population in Flatbush was predominantly white and Jewish. They made up 89% of the population while non-whites made up the other 11%. [1]However, families had started moving to the suburbs after World War II, helped along by construction of new highways and bridges. Spacious suburban homes attracted white middle- and lower-middle-income families from smaller Flatbush apartments.. They left in hopes that they could provide better lives for their children. However, young, well-educated, two-income middle-class families began a move in the opposite direction: into the city. They did not believe that “new is better” and decided to renovate the old Victorian houses in Flatbush.[2]

As white families moved out, they took their business with them. The neighborhood deteriorated. Stores were boarded up and with the advent of television, theaters closed down. Loew’s Kings Theater, which attracted people from all over New York to its Flatbush Avenue movie palace, shut in 1977. Crime was at a high at this point and Flatbush had become known as a dangerous place. This increase in crime affected every single resident, including Jeff Blumstein, who remarked, “Every house on my block has been robbed except the one on the corner, so we figured the guy on the corner had to be doing it but he got cleaned out too, so he’s okay now.”

At this time, West Indians moved in, including some from Crown Heights, because of the cheaper real estate. They opened small mom-and-pop stores and businesses on Flatbush Avenue. That began the economic revitalization of Flatbush.

By 1980, Flatbush was 30% white, 50% black, and the other 20% made up Hispanics and Asians.[1]



These maps show the population density of whites in Flatbush in 1960 and 1980. We see a noticeable decrease because of the white flight.


These maps shows the population of blacks in 1960 compared to 1980. There’s a huge increase in the population as Caribbean folk moved in and whites moved out.



[1] Motyka, Joan. “IF YOU’RE THINKING OF LIVING IN FLATBUSH.” The New York Times. January 29, 1983.

[2] Lydia Noone, “Flatbush: Brooklyn’s Melting Pot,” Publication?, December 6, 2008.