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Get to know Downtown Brooklyn

Because Brooklyn was long an independent city — up until its consolidation in 1898 into the City of New York — it had developed its own civic center, with City Hall (now Borough Hall) as its centerpiece. The area known as Downtown Brooklyn extends to the east, with Fulton Street as its spine. While most of New York’s municipal offices are in lower Manhattan, thousands of government employees go to work in Downtown Brooklyn each day, at borough offices and state and federal courthouses. The area suffered a setback, as did much of the city, in the late 1960s and ’70s, but the creation of Fulton Mall helped turn the tide. (That project, which closed Fulton to most vehicular traffic, was completed in 1984.) The new chapter in Downtown Brooklyn’s history has enjoyed a recent boost with the opening of the City Point mall, while other leading retailers are moving to — and, in some cases, returning to — the neighborhood.

Nearby Neighborhoods:

Downtown Brooklyn History & Culture

Downtown Brooklyn’s highs and lows can often be traced to the same cause: its neighbor on the other side of the East River, Manhattan. Downtown Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights first became popular areas to live and work after the opening of the Fulton Ferry in 1814. The completion of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883 and the overflow of port traffic from piers in Manhattan also helped fuel growth in the borough. Manhattan’s proximity, however, also had downsides for Brooklyn. After 1898, when Brooklyn was consolidated into New York City, Downtown Brooklyn was often passed over, by both private businesses and public initiatives, in favor of Manhattan’s Financial District and Midtown. Like much of Brooklyn, the area has once again become appealing, and Downtown Brooklyn now has the borough’s highest commercial real estate rents. A change in zoning in 2004 led to the construction of housing in formerly commercial-only areas.

Downtown Brooklyn Dining & Shopping

In the 1960s and ’70s, Fulton Street suffered from the general exodus that impacted all of New York. Fulton Mall (which pedestrianized the street), however, was completed in 1984, and it helped lure retailers back (and persuade others who hadn’t left that they should stay). The multi-use City Point center, which opened in 2016, includes locations of a number of leading brands and outposts of favorite Brooklyn restaurants (at the Dekalb Market), and also increased the number of high-end residential units in the area. Along Fulton Mall, venerable stores that have been operating for decades, such as a Macy’s, have been joined by other familiar names. Downtown Brooklyn is also surrounded on all sides by neighborhoods with their own shopping and dining destinations: Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill (with its restaurant row on Smith Street), Fort Greene, and DUMBO.