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Neighborhood Profile: Flatbush

Once a haven for Jewish and Italian new arrivals, recent immigrants include people from Caribbean nations and Southeast Asia.
Dancing on the Plaza, June 2023

At the heart of Brooklyn lies Flatbush, rich in history and exemplifies the changing city landscape to its core.

Founded by the Dutch in the mid 1600s, the area, once vast farmland, is now a bustling, diverse community with quiet residential streets filled with stately homes, rowhomes and apartment buildings that lead to many bustling commercial corridors. 

Bordered by Kensington to the west, Crown Heights to the north and Midwood to the South, Flatbush is a neighborhood that boasts a culturally, racially and ethnically diverse population of about 231,000 residents. 

African Americans, Hispanics and a large community of Orthodox Jews (Chabad/Liebovitch) residing in the neighborhood have transformed the historically wooded farmland into a bustling commercial hub known for its authentic Caribbean cuisines and multi-cultural vibes. The identities of the Afro-Caribbean or West Indian communities are reflected in the establishment of the Little Caribbean and Little Haiti neighbohoods. 

According to the, Flatbush is as old as the 1600s and was one of the earliest Dutch colonial villages in Brooklyn. 

Kings Theatre attracts national acts. . Photo: Supplied/ Jim Henderson via Wikimedia Commons

Fast forward to 2024, Flatbush is home to 68 churches, mosques, temples, and other houses of worship and some of the borough's oldest buildings, like the 369-year-old Flatbush Reformed Dutch Church. The newly revived Kings Theatre, built in 1929 and reopened after renovation in 2015, is among the main attractions for locals and city residents outside Flatbush. 

Local businesses, including restaurants and various shops, thrive on Flatbush Avenue, and the commercial district is benefiting from recent and ongoing public investments. 

The new Flatbush Central Caribbean Marketplace, formerly the Flatbush Caton Market, provides trading space for vendors and the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACCI). Another major retail area is called the Junction, which includes a large Target, is steps away from Brooklyn College. 

Flatbush is a perfect mix of busy small businesses and quiet residential suburbs nestled in the district, where tree-lined streets separate Victorian-style homes adorning 20th-century architecture. 

The median sales price of a home in Flatbush totaled $725,000 in April 2024, according to Rent averaged between $1,500 for a one-bedroom to about $2,600 for a two-bedroom unit. 

The neighborhood also offers plenty of outdoor and street activities, as it sits just south of Prospect Park, which offers walking trails and sports fields, complete with summer concerts and a ton of other activities.

Higher learning institutions are also easily accessible in Flatbush. With the Brooklyn College campus, part of the City University of New York (CUNY) and the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts, located on the campus, locals and visitors can immerse themselves in a host of art and cultural live events. 

Moving around is relatively easy in the centrally located Flatbush. The neighborhood is walkable, but locals and visitors can also easily access public transportation to move around different routes. New York City also has recently committed to expanding its bicycle network as part of its community development initiatives. 

Flatbush is well-connected to other parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan via the Flatbush Avenue-Brooklyn College subway station, served by the 2 and 5 lines, as well as numerous bus routes.

The neighborhood also has a rich sports history, with institutions like the Brooklyn Dodgers, who played at Ebbets Field until 1957, leaving an indelible mark on the community. Flatbush has a strong sense of community, with local organizations, civic groups, and cultural centers, including I Am Caribbeing, working to preserve its heritage, address social issues, and promote neighborhood cohesion.

And take a look at all these famous people from Flatbush! Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Bernie Sanders, Joey Badass, Barbara Streisand, Neil Diamond, Yvette Clarke, Norman Mailer and Charles Hynes all grew up in the area.