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Get to know Crown Heights

South of Atlantic Avenue (and Bed-Stuy) and east of Prospect Park, Crown Heights includes a huge swath of central Brooklyn. The neighborhood is often associated with two communities: a Caribbean community (which tends to be most concentrated in the northern half) and a Hasidic one (largely to the south and east, especially in the blocks around Kingston Avenue and south of Eastern Parkway). That said, these demographic boundaries aren’t strictly defined, and part of the appeal of Crown Heights is that it isn’t uncommon to find a bakery selling Jamaican patties next to one selling kosher pastries. Other New Yorkers also find a welcome here, including an increasing number of, for lack of a better term, hipsters. Crown Heights’ changing demographics have led to a number of new restaurants and bars, concentrated along Franklin Avenue and, to a lesser extent, Washington, the western boundary of Crown Heights.
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History & Culture

Though Crown Heights was settled by Dutch farmers as early as the 17th century, and by Lenape Indians even earlier, it wasn’t until the 1910s that the neighborhood began to be seriously developed. As with many parts of Brooklyn, Crown Heights’ boom can be credited to mass transit projects. When the IRT’s Eastern Parkway Line (used today by the 2, 3, 4, and 5 trains) opened, it stood out from other Brooklyn train routes for its underground instead of elevated tracks. Beginning in the 1960s, Crown Heights’ demographics began to shift, with the area becoming increasingly Caribbean and African-American. While many Hasidic communities chose to move upstate, Lubavitch residents kept their headquarters in Crown Heights, contributing to the diversity of the area today. Cultural institutions of note include the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the Jewish Children’s Museum, and the Weeksville Heritage Center, on the site of an early free-black settlement.

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Dine & Shop

The liveliest stretch of new restaurants in Crown Heights is on and near Franklin Avenue, in the western part of Crown Heights. On a smaller scale, Washington, which runs diagonal to the grid common to most of the neighborhood, also has some popular dining and drinking spots. Three blocks to the east of Franklin, Nostrand Avenue remains the area’s primary commercial strip. Gentrifying trends haven’t been as pronounced here, but some new bars and bistros are drawing visitors to Crown Heights, especially between Atlantic Avenue and Eastern Parkway. While Eastern Parkway is the leafy main boulevard of Crown Heights, and the site of some new residential projects, grand apartment buildings outnumber restaurants and shops there. Other neighborhoods with competing dining and drinking scenes are nearby, especially along Crown Heights’ western edge: Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and Fort Greene.

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