Brooklyn has long been a magnet for immigrants, and many ethnic groups dominate a particular neighborhood for a time, although the neighborhoods are ever-changing as populations move in and out. For example, during the early to mid-20th century, Brownsville had a majority of Jewish residents; since the 1970s it has been majority African American. Midwood during the early 20th century was filled with ethnic Irish, then filled with Jewish residents for nearly 50 years, and is slowly becoming a Pakistani enclave. Brooklyn’s most populous ethnic group, white, declined from 97.2% in 1930 to 46.9% by 1990.
Brooklyn contains dozens of distinct neighborhoods, representing many of the major ethnic groups found within the New York City area. The borough is home to a large African-American community. Bedford-Stuyvesant is home to one of the most famous African-American communities in the city, along with Brownsville and East New York. “Bed-Stuy” is a hub for African-American culture, often referenced in hip hop and African-American arts. Brooklyn’s African-American and Caribbean communities are spread throughout much of Brooklyn.
Brooklyn is also home to many Russians and Ukrainians, who are mainly concentrated in community of Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay. Brighton Beach features many Russian and Ukrainian businesses. Because of the large Ukrainian community, it has been nicknamed “Little Odessa.” However, recently, it has been renamed to “Little Russia” because of the overwhelming presence of the Russian population. Originally these were mostly Jews, now however the Ukrainian and Russian communities of Brighton Beach represent various aspects of Russian culture.
Bushwick is the largest hub of Brooklyn’s Hispanic-American community. Like other neighborhoods in New York City, Bushwick’s Hispanic population is mainly Puerto Rican, with many Dominicans and peoples from several South American nations as well. As nearly 80% of Bushwick’s population is Hispanic, its residents have created many businesses to support their various national and distinct traditions in food and other items. Sunset Park’s population is 42% Hispanic, made up of these various ethnic groups. Brooklyn’s main Hispanic groups are Puerto Ricans,Mexicans, Dominicans, and Panamanians, they are spread out throughout the borough. Puerto Ricans and Dominicans are predominant in Bushwick, Williamsburg, and East New York. While Mexicans are predominant inSunset Park and Panamanians in Crown Heights.
Italian Americans are mainly concentrated in the neighborhoods of Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge, where there are many Italian restaurants and pizzerias. Italian Americans live throughout most of southern Brooklyn, including Bath Beach, Gravesend, Marine Park, Mill Basin, and Bergen Beach. The Carroll Gardens area, as well as the northern half of Williamsburg, also have long-standing Italian-American communities.
Orthodox Jews and Hasidic Jews have become concentrated in Borough Park, where there are many yeshivas, synagogues, and kosher delicatessens, as well as other Jewish businesses. Other notable religious Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish neighborhoods are in Kensington, Midwood, Williamsburg, Flatbush, Canarsie, Sea Gate and Crown Heights. Many hospitals in Brooklyn were started by Jewish charities, including Maimonides Medical Center in Borough Park, and Brookdale Hospital in Flatbush. Many non-religious Jews are concentrated in Ditmas Park,Windsor Terrace and Park Slope. Brooklyn’s Polish are largely concentrated in Greenpoint, which is home to Little Poland. They are also scattered throughout the southern parts of Brooklyn.
Brooklyn’s Greek Americans live throughout the borough, but their businesses today are concentrated in Downtown Brooklyn near Atlantic Avenue. Greek-owned diners are throughout the borough.
Chinese Americans live throughout the southern parts of Brooklyn, inSunset Park, Bensonhurst, Gravesend, and Homecrest. The largest concentration is in Sunset Park along 8th Avenue, which is known forChinese culture. It is called “Brooklyn’s Chinatown”. Many Chinese restaurants can be found throughout Sunset Park, and the area hosts a popular Chinese New Year celebration.
Irish Americans can be found throughout Brooklyn, in low to moderate concentrations in the neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Marine Park,Gerritsen Beach, and Vinegar Hill. Many moved east on Long Island in the mid-twentieth century.
Today, Arab Americans have moved into the southwest portion of Brooklyn, particularly in Bay Ridge, where there are many Middle Eastern restaurants and hookah lounges. Bay Ridge has Arabs of both Christian and Islamic faiths, where there are Arabic churches, particularly Maronite and Coptic Orthodox churches, as well as Mosques. Earlier, the area was known predominately for its Irish, Norwegian, and Scottish populations. Traditionally, many Middle Eastern businesses have flourished on Atlantic Avenue west of Flatbush Avenue.
Brooklyn’s West Indian community is concentrated in the Crown Heights, Flatbush, East Flatbush, Kensington andCanarsie neighborhoods in central Brooklyn. Brooklyn is home to one of the largest communities of West Indians outside of the Caribbean, being rivaled only by London, Miami and Toronto. Although the largest West Indian groups in Brooklyn are Jamaicans and Haitians, there are West Indian immigrants from nearly every part of the Caribbean. Crown Heights and Flatbush are home to many of Brooklyn’s West Indian restaurants and bakeries. The West Indian Labor Day Parade, takes place every Labor Day on Eastern Parkway.