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.