A Walk Through Crown Heights

Hey there!  Welcome to Crown Heights in Brooklyn, New York! Today we’ll be taking you on a walking tour of one of Brooklyn’s most well know neighborhoods, all the while, sharing with you some of the most important, popular and historic sites. Before we begin the tour, you might want to know a little about Crown Heights and its history…

Originally called Crow Hill or Green Mountains, what is now Crown Heights, was first settled by The Dutch in the 1600s and used mainly for agricultural purposes. In later years during the 19th century, the area began to urbanize as mansions and limestone house were built.

In even later years during the 20th century, the first wave of Caribbean immigrants joined the Crown Heights population and community of Protestants, Jews, and Catholics. Today, Crown Heights, Brooklyn is considered to be “the largest West Indian neighborhood in New York City.” Recently, the neighborhood and its residents have been threatened by gentrification and the “renewing” of certain areas. Even so, Crown Heights and its history remain ever so fascinating and wonderful.

We will now being out tour, and our first stop is….

Medgar Evers College

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Medgar Evers College

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Medgar Evers College 40.666240, -73.957349 Just at the corner of Crown Street and Bedford Avenue stands The School of Business branch of Medgar Evers College. This historically black college was founded in 1970 though cooperation from educators and community leaders in central Brooklyn. Medgar Wiley Evers, the man the college is named after, was a Mississippi-born black civil rights activist and World War II veteran who spent his life fighting for and helping secure numerous social and political advances for African Americans before his assignation on June 12th, 1963. In addition to The School of Business, there are three other school within the Medgar Evers College, including The School of Professional and Community Development, The School of Liberal Arts and Education, and The School of Science, Health, and Technology. The College also operates multiple external programs and associated centers such as Male Development and Empowerment Center, Center for Women\'s Development, Center for Black Literature, and The DuBois Bunche Center for Public Policy. - Makeba Ross

Just at the corner of Crown Street and Bedford Avenue stands The School of Business branch of Medgar Evers College. This historically black college was founded in 1970 though cooperation from educators and community leaders in central Brooklyn. Medgar Wiley Evers, the man the college is named after, was a Mississippi-born black civil rights activist and World War II veteran who spent his life fighting for and helping secure numerous social and political advances for African Americans before his assignation on June 12th, 1963. In addition to The School of Business, there are three other school within the Medgar Evers College, including The School of Professional and Community Development, The School of Liberal Arts and Education, and The School of Science, Health, and Technology. The College also operates multiple external programs and associated centers such as Male Development and Empowerment Center, Center for Women’s Development, Center for Black Literature, and The DuBois Bunche Center for Public Policy. Of the thousands of students attending Medgar Evers College, 87% of students are non-Hispanic blacks, 5% are Hispanic, and another 5% are undocumented immigrants.

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Ebbets Field Apartments

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Ebbets Field Apartments 40.666675, -73.956615 Just one block south of the Medgar Evers School of Business you will come across the famous Ebbets Field...or what used to be the famous Ebbets Field. Back in 1913 on the 9th of April, The Ebbets Field baseball stadium was opened and became the home of the then Brooklyn Dodgers. A lot of history took place in Ebbets Field before it was closed in September of 1957, including the emergence of Jackie Robinson, a black man from Cairo, Georgia who became the first African American to play Major League Baseball in the 20th Century. Five years after the closing of the baseball stadium, a massive apartment complex was built in its place. It was originally named the Ebbets Field Apartments, but was renamed as the Jackie Robinson Apartments in 1972 after Robinson\'s passing. The apartments have been around for 52 years and now house over 4,000 people. Even so, many will always see it as Ebbets Field, the baseball stadium. - Makeba Ross

Just one block south of the Medgar Evers School of Business you will come across the famous Ebbets Field…or what used to be the famous Ebbets Field. Back in 1913 on the 9th of April, The Ebbets Field baseball stadium was opened and became the home of the then Brooklyn Dodgers. A lot of history took place in Ebbets Field before it was closed in September of 1957, including the emergence of Jackie Robinson, a black man from Cairo, Georgia who became the first African American to play Major League Baseball in the 20th Century. Five years after the closing of the baseball stadium, a massive apartment complex was built in its place. It was originally named the Ebbets Field Apartments, but was renamed as the Jackie Robinson Apartments in 1972 after Robinson’s passing. The apartments have been around for 52 years and now house over 4,000 people. Even so, many will always see it as Ebbets Field, the baseball stadium.

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First Baptist Church

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First Baptist Church 40.670133, -73.953620  First Baptist Church Although the actual church was not established until 1969, the congregation was already quite active beginning in 1953. A  group of about twenty women and men of Stalwarth faith originally got together with the dream of establishing a church. After fires in various locations, the congregation brought a building on 450 Eastern Parkway that now serves as their venue. The First Baptist Church of Crown Heights has addressed community issues such as job training, housing development services for the homeless and the elderly as part of their outreach ministry. The First Baptist Church of Crown Heights continues to be a source of encouragement within the Crown Heights community.  The church offers free guitar and piano lessons to the youth and they host graduation programs for several of the local daycare.  Every Sunday morning, members of the ministerial staff, Board of Deacons, Deaconesses, Missionary and members conduct a worship service for the residents at the Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation. It is a place where any resident of the area can seek help.

Although the actual church was not established until 1969, the congregation was already quite active beginning in 1953. A  group of about twenty women and men of Stalwarth faith originally got together with the dream of establishing a church. After fires in various locations, the congregation brought a building on 450 Eastern Parkway that now serves as their venue. The First Baptist Church of Crown Heights has addressed community issues such as job training, housing development services for the homeless and the elderly as part of their outreach ministry. The First Baptist Church of Crown Heights continues to be a source of encouragement within the Crown Heights community.  The church offers free guitar and piano lessons to the youth and they host graduation programs for several of the local daycare.  Every Sunday morning, members of the ministerial staff, Board of Deacons, Deaconesses, Missionary and members conduct a worship service for the residents at the Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation. It is a place where any resident of the area can seek help. 

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Four Seasons (Caribbean Cuisine)

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Four Seasons (Caribbean Cuisine) 40.667417, -73.950747 Four Seasons Jamaican Restaurant and Bakery [caption id=\"attachment_396\" align=\"alignnone\" width=\"300\"] The local Caribbean spot that is everybody\'s favorite spot.[/caption] Four Seasons is a Jamaican food spot on Nostrand Avenue--although it is not as high-class and highly-priced as the name might suggest. It is a local, family-owned restaurant that serves all kinds of Caribbean cuisines, but primarily Jamaican food. It is popular in the neighborhood since the majority of Crown Heights, especially in this particular area, is Caribbean. The restaurant itself is set up more like a bakery than a fully-flushed restaurant. There is a treat counter and an overhead menu. There are some tables and chairs for customers who like to eat in store, but the vibe is mostly take-out, as opposed to eat-in. Whether it\'s a father picking up dinner for five, or a couple sitting in eating the plantain dishes, the place never seems to be empty. Customers vouch that their jerk chicken is supreme and that the classic dishes, such as rice and peas and the fried fish cakes, are also worth their merit--and not too expensive to begin with either. Although it is not the top star location for all Brooklyn residents, the locals obviously enjoy it. Especially because they not only do take out, but they also deliver and provide catering services for events. The restaurant receives high acclaim for such a small business, proving that it must be worth the time if people would rather go to this unknown spot than some brand-stamped Golden Crust. It is also easily accessibly by the 2, 3, 4, and 5 trains. So if you\'re taking a tour of Crown Heights, this would definitely be a great place to stop and try the local cuisine--not only for the good food, but also because it won\'t break the bank to try it.

 

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Eastern Parkway

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Eastern Parkway 40.669184, -73.937295 Eastern Parkway2013 West Indian Day ParadeWhether you exit the subway at Franklin Avenue or at Utica Avenue, as soon as you climb that last step and return above ground, you\'ll find yourself smack-dab on one of Brooklyn\'s most famous roads: Eastern Parkway. If you visit Eastern Parkway on a month other than September, the only thing you will see are cars and bicycles whizzing past. However, if you visit Eastern Parkway in September, more specifically on the first Monday of September (Labor Day), you will find no cars, no bicycles, and hundreds of people in and around the street. For the past 45 years, The West Indian Day Parade had been held on Eastern Parkway, and every year it gets bigger and better. The parade was once held in Harlem where it was first organized and executed by a woman named Jessie Waddell and a few of her friends in the 1920s. Years later in 1964, Harlem revoked the permit for the parade and five years later it was moved to its current home, Crown Heights. The parade is composed of participants and representatives from Caribbean and South American countries including: Trinidad, Tobago, Haiti, Barbados, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Jamaica, Saint Vincent, Grenada, Guyana, Suriname and Belize. Once all members are accounted for, the participants take to the streets and make their way up the Eastern Parkway dancing, singing, laughing, waving, playing instruments and showing off their costumes. Off to the side on the sidewalks, hundreds of venders line the street selling delicious Hispanic and Caribbean cuisine, clothing, jewelry, music, movies, and party favors. When the parade has passed a given area on the Eastern Parkway and the crowds disperse (either to follow the parade or return to their Labor Day festivities) the cleaning crew gets to work, gathering all the various streamers, flags, banners, feathers and confetti left behind. - Makeba Ross

http://youtu.be/q4gNVesV07c

Whether you exit the subway at Franklin Avenue or at Utica Avenue, as soon as you climb that last step and return above ground, you’ll find yourself smack-dab on one of Brooklyn’s most famous roads: Eastern Parkway. If you visit Eastern Parkway on a month other than September, the only thing you will see are cars and bicycles whizzing past. However, if you visit Eastern Parkway in September, more specifically on the first Monday of September (Labor Day), you will find no cars, no bicycles, and hundreds of people in and around the street. For the past 45 years, The West Indian Day Parade had been held on Eastern Parkway, and every year it gets bigger and better. The parade was once held in Harlem where it was first organized and executed by a woman named Jessie Waddell and a few of her friends in the 1920s. Years later in 1964, Harlem revoked the permit for the parade and five years later it was moved to its current home, Crown Heights. The parade is composed of participants and representatives from Caribbean and South American countries including: Trinidad, Tobago, Haiti, Barbados, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Jamaica, Saint Vincent, Grenada, Guyana, Suriname and Belize. Once all members are accounted for, the participants take to the streets and make their way up the Eastern Parkway dancing, singing, laughing, waving, playing instruments and showing off their costumes. Off to the side on the sidewalks, hundreds of venders line the street selling delicious Hispanic and Caribbean cuisine, clothing, jewelry, music, movies, and party favors. When the parade has passed a given area on the Eastern Parkway and the crowds disperse (either to follow the parade or return to their Labor Day festivities) the cleaning crew gets to work, gathering all the various streamers, flags, banners, feathers and confetti left behind.

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St. John's Park and Recreation Center

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St. John\'s Park and Recreation Center 40.673493, -73.934781 St. John\'s Recreation Center St. John\'s Park and Recreation Center is as local as it gets in Crown Heights. Opened in 1956 by Park Commissioner Robert Moses, this park was, according to him, “the only practical way of affording healthy exercise for all age groups and of combating what is miscalled juvenile delinquency….” The park and community center building were both successfully and fully renovated in 1987, bringing in more of the neighborhood to utilize and appreciate the newly refurbished park. This park is the prime gathering spot for people young and old. The children can enjoy the playgrounds and the teens can have fun on the basketball and handball courts. The adults can even take a stroll through the pathways that bloom with lots of beautiful greenery in the Spring. In the winter, most of the neighborhood residents flock into the community center at the southern edge of the park. This center has an indoor pool, basketball courts, a gym, and even a computer and game room. The center also provides affordable after-school programs for children and fitness classes for the adults.  Crown Heights residents benefit a lot from the recreation center, by its affordability and its updated high-quality services. But, as a visitor, or even a tourist, it would be a fun activity to stop by, maybe shoot some hoops on the court or sit in on the aerobics class. It is certainly a dynamic and popular gathering spot in Crown Heights, so it is definitely worth a second look while you\'re in the neighborhood.

 

 

Bibliography:

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Kasinitz, Philip. Caribbean New York: Black Immigrants and the Politics of Race. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992. Print.

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McLean, Kathleen. “A Case for Evaluation: The Brooklyn Children’s Museum.” Children’s Environments Quarterly 4.1 (1987): 24-29. Print.

Negrón, Rosalyn. “Personal Networks and Migration Decision: The Case of Jamaican Brain Drain.” Journal of Identity and Migration Studies 6.1 (2012): 43,63,167. ProQuest Political Science. Web.nnotated Bibliography

Peake, D.E. “Housing of Immigrants.” The British Medical Journal Vol. 1. No. 4979 (1956) : pg 1364-1365. Jstore.org. BMJ. [ http://www.jstore.org/stable/20358231 .] 31 March 2014.

Shapiro, Edward S.. Crown Heights: Blacks, Jews, and the 1991 Brooklyn Riot. Waltham, Mass.: Brandeis University Press ;, 2006. Print.