- Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
Bedford-Stuyvesant (pron. ˈstī-və-sənt) (also known as Bed-Stuy) is a neighborhood in the central portion of the
New York City, USA, borough of Brooklyn. The neighborhood is part of Brooklyn Community Board 3, Brooklyn Community Board 8and Brooklyn Community Board 16. [ [http://www.nyc.gov/html/cau/html/cb/cb_brooklyn.shtml Brooklyn Community Boards] , New York City. Accessed December 31, 2007.]
Bed-Stuy is bordered overall by Flushing Avenue to the north (bordering Williamsburg); Classon Avenue to the west (bordering Clinton Hill, although it should be noted that prior to the 1980s the area now called Clinton Hill was considered to be Bedford-Stuyvesant as well); Broadway and Van Sinderen Avenue to the east (bordering East New York); Park Place to the south; Ralph Avenue to the east (bordering Crown Heights); and as far as East New York Avenue to the south (bordering Brownsville). [ [http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/lucds/bk3profile.pdf "Brooklyn Community District 3"] (pdf). "
New York City Department of City Planning". December 2007. Accessed April 25, 2008.] [ [http://www.longislandexchange.com/brooklynqueens/bedfordstuyvesant.html "Bedford-Stuyvesant, Long Island"] . "Long Island Exchange". Accessed April 28, 2008.]
For decades, it has been a cultural center for
Brooklyn's African-American population. Following the construction of the A line subway between Harlem and BedfordEchanove, Matias. [http://urbanology.org/BedStuy/ "Bed-Stuy on the Move"] . Master thesis. Urban Planning Program. "Columbia University". Urbanology.org. 2003.] in the 1930s, blacks left an overcrowded Harlemfor more housing availability in Bedford-Stuyvesant. From Bed-Stuy, blacks have since moved into the surrounding areas of Brooklyn, such as East New York, Crown Heights, Brownsvilleand Fort Greene.
The main thoroughfare is Nostrand Avenue, but the commercial thoroughfare is Fulton Street due to the fact that it has the most commercial activity of all Bedford-Stuyvesant. It also lies above the main subway line for the area (the A and C trains) and Fulton Street runs through the length of the neighborhood while intersecting with many of the neighborhood's most utilized streets such as Bedford Avenue, Nostrand Avenue and Stuyvesant Avenue. Bedford-Stuyvesant is actually made up of four neighborhoods: Bedford, Stuyvesant Heights, Ocean Hill and Weeksville.
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 Jamaica and eastern
With the building of the Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad in 1832, taken over by the
Long Island Rail Road(LIRR) in 1836, Bedford was established as a railroad station near the intersection of current Atlantic and Franklin Avenues. 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
1890is primarily a residential area.
Establishment as an urban neighborhood
In the last decades of the 19th century, with the advent of electric trolleys and the Fulton Street Elevated, Bedford Stuyvesant became a
working classand middle classbedroom community for those working in downtown Brooklyn and Manhattanin New York City. At that time, most of the pre-existing wooden homes were destroyed and replaced with brownstone row houses. These are highly sought after in the neighborhood's contemporary renaissance. Many consider the area to be the African American cultural meccaof Brooklyn, similar to what Harlemis to Manhattan.
During and after
World War II, large numbers of African-Americans, migrating from the Southern United Statesupon the decline of agricultural work and seeking economic opportunities in the North, moved into the neighborhood. They often preferred it to the available housing in Harlem, then the city's pre-eminent African-American community.
A series of problems led to a long decline in the neighborhood. Some 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. The movement of significant parts of its population to
suburban areas ghettoized a racially diverse neighborhood.
1960s and 1970s
The 1960s and 1970s were a difficult time for New York City and affected Bedford-Stuyvesant seriously. 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 racismwere a common part of social tensions at the time.
In 1964, race riots broke out in the Manhattan neighborhood of Harlem after a white Irish
NYPDlieutenant, Thomas Gilligan, shot and killed a black teenager, James Powell, 15. [Jacoby, Tamar. [http://www.aliciapatterson.org/APF1503/Jacoby/Jacoby.html "How a Campaign for Racial Trust Turned Sour"] . "APF Reporter". Vol. 15, No. 3. Alicia Patterson Foundation.] The riot spread to Bedford-Stuyvesant and resulted in the destruction and looting of many neighborhood businesses, many of which were Jewish-owned. Race relations between the NYPD and the city's black community were strained as crime was high in black neighborhoods and few black policemen were present on the force. [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,873963-6,00.html "No Place Like Home"] . "Time". July 31, 1964.] In black New York neighborhoods, crimes related to drugs and homicides were higher than anywhere else in the city 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. [Darien, Andrew. [http://www.hofstra.edu/pdf/CLD_RLR_s00_police.pdf "Police Fraternity and the Politics of Race and Class in New York City, 1941-1960"] . "Regional Labor Review". Spring 2000.] Race riots followed in 1967 and 1968, as part of the politicaland racial tensions in the United Statesof the era, aggravated by continued high unemployment among blacks, continued de facto segregation in housing, the failure to enforce civil rightslaws, and the murder of black people.
In 1977, a power outage occurred throughout all of New York City due to a power failure at the Con Edison Plant. As a result, looting was widespread throughout the city, especially in poor Black and Puerto Rican areas of Harlem, the Bronx and Brooklyn. 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.
Beginning in the 2000s, the neighborhood began to experience gentrification that continues to the present day.
The two significant reasons for this are the affordable housing stock consisting of handsome brownstone rowhouses located on quiet tree-lined streets and the marked decrease of crime in the neighborhood. The latter is at least partly attributable to the decline of the national
crack epidemicwhich occurred in the late 1980s and through the 1990s, and also to improved policing methods which New York has used in the last decade.
In July 2005, the New York City Police Department designated the Fulton Street-Nostrand Avenue business district in Bedford-Stuyvesant as an "Impact Zone". Fact|date=April 2008 The Police Department has also ranked Bed-Stuy as one of the neighborhoods that has experienced a steady decline in crime and has had improved safety Fact|date=April 2008 The designation directed significantly increased levels of police protection and resources to the area centered on the intersection of Fulton Street and Nostrand Avenue for a period of six months. It was renewed for another six-month period in December 2005. Since the designation of the Impact Zone in Bedford-Stuyvesant, crime within the district decreased 15% from the previous year. Fact|date=April 2008
Despite the improvements and increasing stability of the community, Bedford-Stuyvesant has continued to be stigmatized in some circles by a lingering public perception left from the rough times of the late 20th Century. In March 2005 a campaign was launched to supplant the "Bed-Stuy, Do-or-Die" image in the public consciousness with the more positive "Bed-Stuy, and Proud of It". Fact|date=April 2008
Through a series of "wallscapes" (large outdoor murals), the campaign hopes to honor famous community members, including community activist and poet
June Jordan, activist Hattie Carthan, rapper and actor Mos Def, and actor and comedian Chris Rock. [http://gothamgazette.com/community/36/news/1340 Daily News, March 5, 2005] Additionally various artistic and cultural neighborhood events and celebrations such as the neighborhood's annual Universal Hip Hop Parade[http://www.universalhiphopparade.org/index.html Universal Hip Hop Parade] seek to show off the area's positive accomplishments to the rest of New York City as well as visitors.
This ongoing revitalization and renewal of Bedford-Stuyvesant has prompted a number of people to seek affordable housing among the many blocks of handsome
brownstonerowhouses. The appeal of affordable homes and apartments that are still numerous in Bedford-Stuyvesant along with convenient access via mass transitto Downtown Brooklyn and Manhattanis fast making the area a favorite for students, artists and young families.
As a result, Bedford-Stuyvesant is becoming increasingly racially, economically and ethnically diverse, with an increase of white and foreign-born
Africanpopulations. As is expected with gentrification, the influx of new residents has sometimes contributed to the displacement of poorer residents. In many other cases, newcomers have simply rehabilitated and occupied formerly vacant and abandoned properties.
Some long-time residents and business owners have expressed the concern that they will be priced out by newcomers whom they disparagingly characterize as "
yuppies and buppies".who They fear that the neighborhood's ethnic character will be lost. Others point out that a 70% African American population remains. Furthermore Bedford-Stuyvesant's population has experienced much less displacement of the African-American population, including those who are economically disadvantaged, than other areas of Brooklyn, such as Cobble Hill. [http://22.214.171.124/newyork/DetailsAr.do?file=features/499/499.thebattlefor.html "The Battle for Bed-Stuy: The Price of Art" Time Out New York April 2005] Many of the new residents are upwardly mobile middle income African Americanfamilies, as well as immigrants from Africaand the Caribbean.
Some people believe positive neighborhood changes will benefit all residents of the area, bringing with it improved neighborhood safety and creating a demand for improved retail services along the major commercial strips, such as Fulton Street (recently renamed Harriet Tubman Boulevard), [http://www.bedstuygateway.com/ Bed-Stuy Gateway Business District] Nostrand Avenue, Tompkins Avenue, Greene Avenue, Lewis Avenue, Flushing Avenue, Park Avenue, Myrtle Avenue, Dekalb Avenue, Putnam Avenue, Bedford Avenue, Marcy Avenue,
Malcolm X Boulevard, Gates Avenue, Madison Street and Jefferson Avenue. Such changes can bring an increase in local jobs and other economic activity.
Bedford-Stuyvesant in the popular media
Bedford-Stuyvesant is featured in the 1971 film The French Connection where NYPD narcotics detective Popeye Doyle is assigned to a Brooklyn police station that appears to be located in Bedford-Stuyvesant as mentioned by his supervisor Walt Simonson. On a 1997 episode of
NYPD Blue"Taillight's last Gleaming", NYPD Lieutenant Arthur Fancyrequests that an officer who pulled over him and his wife in a racially motivated manner be transferred to a Bedford-Stuyvesant precinct as punishment to learn how to better interact with various African Americancitizens. In the show "The West Wing", the Toby Ziegler, the fictional director of communications is from Bed-Stuy.
Bedford-Stuyvesant's neighborhood identity is due in part to the neighborhood's portrayal in a variety of popular media. Director
Spike Leehas prominently featured the streets and brownstone blocks of Bedford-Stuyvesant in his films, including " Do the Right Thing" (1989), " Crooklyn" (1994), "Clockers" (1995), and " Summer of Sam" (1999). Chris Rock's UPN (later CW) television sitcom, " Everybody Hates Chris", portrays Rock's life growing up as a teenager in Bedford-Stuyvesant in 1982. Billy Joel's 1980s hit single, "You May Be Right" mentions the neighborhood with the lyrics "I was stranded in the combat zone / I walked through Bedford-Stuy alone / even rode my motorcycle in the rain" when discussing crazy things the singer had done in his life. [ [http://www.lyricsfreak.com/j/joel+billy/you+may+be+right_20072916.html Joel Billy | You May Be Right lyrics ] ]
The neighborhood was also the setting for some of
Dave Chappelle's 2004 documentary "Block Party". Chappelle and many prominent Rap and Soul artists performed an impromptu concert at the Broken Angelhouse in Clinton Hill, which is a neighborhood that borders Bed-Stuy.
Hip hop portalA large number of well-known
hip-hop artistshave come out of Bedford-Stuyvesant, including such notables as Aaliyah, The Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Lil Kim, Big Daddy Kane, Mos Def, Fabolous, and GZA.
In "Scan," an episode of the television show "
Prison Break", fugitive Fernando Sucreflees to Bedford-Stuyvesant to meet his friend, only to find out that his sweetheart will be getting married in Las Vegas.
The Notorious B.I.G. song "Unbelievable" starts with the line referring to himself as "Live from Bedford-Stuyvesant, the livest one"." Also the song "Machine Gun Funk" contains the lyric: "Bed-Stuy, the place where my head rest" referring to Biggie's roots in the neighborhood.
The neighborhood (and instructions for its pronunciation) are featured in
The Bonfire of the Vanitiesby Tom Wolfe.
Big Daddy Kane
* ((Divine Sounds) Disco Richie, Mike Music, Brian U-Mann (Song "What people do for Money")
Fabolous, rapper [Vasquez, Emily. [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/18/nyregion/18rapper.html "Brooklyn-Born Rapper Is Arrested After Being Shot"] , " The New York Times", October 18, 2005. Accessed October 7, 2007. "Mr. Jackson, raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, became famous in late 2001 with his debut single, "I Can’t Deny It.""]
Lil' Kim, rapper [Ogunnaike, Lola. [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/20/nyregion/20kim.html "A Flourish, and Lil' Kim Goes From Star to Inmate"] , " The New York Times", September 20, 2005. Accessed October 19, 2007. "Ms. Jones spoke about her rise from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, to stardom and about her deepening relationship with God."]
The Notorious B.I.G.
*Homicide, former ROH champion and TNA wrestler
Stephanie Mills, singer
*Members of the
James "Rocky" Robinson
Chris Rock, actor, whose autobiographical " Everybody Hates Chris" is set here [Lee, Felicia R. [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/30/arts/television/30chri.html "Where Everyone Loves to Love Chris"] , " The New York Times", October 30, 2006. Accessed October 6, 2007. "It was a scream heard all the way down the block on Decatur Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant. If you know TV, or if you know that Brooklyn neighborhood, you know it’s a sweet stretch of well-tended homes and the setting for "Everybody Hates Chris," the comedy series on the CW network inspired by the adolescent adventures of the comedian Chris Rock."]
Lenny Wilkens, former basketball player and coach [Beck, Howard. [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/28/sports/basketball/28knicks.html "PRO BASKETBALL; Wilkens Denies He Was Asked to Go"] , " The New York Times", September 28, 2005. Accessed November 20, 2007. "A native of Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, Wilkens had added motivation to succeed in New York, which made leaving so quickly that much tougher."]
Vanessa A. Williams
*Lisa Price founder and CEO of
*Adil Dossa, Community Activist
* [http://nyckidsarts.org/orgs/one?org_id=373 Weeksville Heritage Center]
* [http://www.cornerstonebaptistchurch.net/ Cornerstone Baptist Church]
* [http://www.dioceseofbrooklyn.org/cgi-bin/pa_Search.pl?SearchLinksButton=LinkDetail&ParishID=3423/ Our Lady of the Presentation Church]
* [http://www.insideschools.org/fs/school_profile.php?id=1055/ Boys and Girls High School]
* [http://www.churchseek.net/directory/church/837.html/ Antioch Baptist Church]
* [http://www.nyc-architecture.com/BES/BED001-BoysHigh%20School.htm/ Boys High School]
* [http://www.bklyn-genealogy-info.com/Graduate/1900/1904.GHS.June.html/ Girls High School]
* [http://www.pr-g.org/ Bed-Stuy's Project Re-Generation, Inc.]
* [http://urbanology.org/BedStuy/ Bed-Stuy On the Move]
* [http://www.bedstuygateway.com/ Bed-Stuy Gateway and the Fulton-Nostrand Revitalization Project]
* [http://www.restorationplaza.org/ Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation]
* [http://www.bedstuyblog.com/ Bed-Stuy Blog]
* [http://www.bedstuy.org/ Bedford Stuyvesant Community News]
* [http://www.weeksvillesociety.org Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford-Stuyvesant History]
* [http://www.universalhiphopparade.org/ Universal Hip-Hop Parade Foundation, Inc.]
* [http://www.bsvac.org/ Bedford Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corp.]
* [http://www.nyc-architecture.com/BES/BedStuy.htm new york architecture images and notes bedford-stuyvesant]
* [http://www.lifestylermag.com/features/neighborbood-watch-bed-stuy Neighborhood Watch: Bed-Stuy]
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