Learn more about Downtown Brooklyn
Downtown Brooklyn is the third largest central business district in New York City (following Midtown Manhattan and Downtown Manhattan), and is located in the northwestern section of the borough of Brooklyn. The numerous office buildings including the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower and 4 MetroTech Center in the district give the area its own skyline distinct from Manhattan's.
The area gets its name from having once been the downtown section of the City of Brooklyn, which was an independent city before the consolidation of the five boroughs of New York City in 1898. Today, the area is a newly rezoned and growing commercial district, and it includes MetroTech Center, Brooklyn Borough Hall, the Kings County New York State courthouse, and the central courthouse for the Federal Eastern District of New York. Prominent schools include Brooklyn Law School, Polytechnic University, New York City College of Technology, and Long Island University. There are numerous attractions within the area, including the Fulton Mall, Brooklyn Academy of Music and the New York Transit Museum. The Borough Hall Greenmarket, featuring fresh produce from local farmers, operates on the plaza fronting Borough Hall three days a week. Cadman Plaza Park provides 10 acres of green space in the neighborhood, and is currently under renovation by the New York City Parks Department.
It is connected with Manhattan by the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. The neighborhood has extensive public transportation accessibility; it is served by the New York City Subway by the 2, 3, 4, 5, A</pre>, C, F</pre>, G</pre>, B, D</pre>, M</pre>, N</pre>, Q</pre>, and R</pre> lines, many one stop from Manhattan. The Long Island Rail Road stops at the Atlantic Terminal, located at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues.
Historically there has not been a great deal of housing in Downtown Brooklyn. Housing which does exist includes a few apartment buildings on Livingston Street, and seven 15-story buildings that make up the over 1,000 unit Concord Village co-op development on Adams Street, at the borders of both Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO. Since 2003, the area has attracted significant new residential development, including a new Brooklyn Law School dorm at Boerum Place and State Street, a new apartment building at Atlantic and Court Streets, and newly constructed luxury residential condominiums at Court and State, as well as on State Street between Court and Boerum Place.
The New York City Department of City Planning has approved a significant rezoning for portions of Downtown Brooklyn, including the Fulton Mall area, which may result in significant expansion of office space and ground-floor retail. The rezoning consists of "zoning map and zoning text changes, new public open spaces, pedestrian and transit improvements, urban renewal, [and] street mappings". The City Planning initiative also seeks to improve the connections between Downtown and the adjacent neighborhoods of Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, and Fort Greene. There are also plans to build an arena in the nearby Prospect Heights district and relocate the New Jersey Nets (an NBA professional basketball team) there.
This area was originally inhabited by Lenape Native Americans, until the 1600s. At that time the Dutch arrived, gained control of the land, and called it Breuckelen. Until 1814, Downtown Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights remained densely populated. This was due to Robert Fulton’s new steam ferry, which began to offer an easy commuting option to and from downtown Manhattan. It made Brooklyn Heights Manhattan’s first suburb, and put Downtown Brooklyn on its way to becoming a commercial center, and the heart of the city of Brooklyn.
The City of New York acquired this land in 1935 and it named it a local law, four years later. This site is occupied by numerous buildings, as well as the old Brooklyn Elevated train tracks. The tracks were removed during the Depression in favor of an automobile ramp onto the Brooklyn Bridge. Just before starting the ramp construction, the parcel was slated to create a large auditorium. The contest for the auditorium’s design was sponsored by the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper. The winning entry was from Elizabeth Gordon and Stuart Constable. However it went unused, and the auditorium was never built.
- Downtown Brooklyn Rezoning, NYC Dept. City Planning
- Facts about Downtown Brooklyn from the Downtown Brooklyn Council
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