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Neighborhood Change and Gentrification - Brooklyn Historical Society

The Othmer Library holds a variety of materials which can be used to research neighborhood change and gentrification in Brooklyn. These resources include archival collections, oral histories, maps, books, and redevelopment and revitalization plans. A selection of suggested materials is included below. Additional resources can be found by searching our library catalog or archival finding aids portal using key terms such as Land Use, Community Development, City Planning and Urban Renewal.

View of construction site for park deck on waterfront at Fulton Ferry Landing, v1989.18.40. DUMBO, Brooklyn waterfront photographs and slides, v1989.18, Brooklyn Historical Society.

The Othmer Library holds a variety of materials which can be used to research neighborhood change and gentrification in Brooklyn. These resources include archival collections, oral histories, maps, books, and redevelopment and revitalization plans. A selection of suggested materials is included below. Additional resources can be found by searching our library catalog or archival finding aids portal using key terms such as Land Use, Community Development, City Planning and Urban Renewal.

Archival Collections

Arnie Goldwag Brooklyn Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) collection, 1943-2007
Call number: ARC.002
13.75 Linear feet
Link to finding aid.

The Arnie Goldwag Brooklyn Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) collection consists principally of the subject files concerning 1960s civil rights activism, including protests against discrimination in employment, housing, and schools.

Back to the City collection, 1974-1983
Call number: 1991.036
0.42 Linear feet
Link to finding aid.

The Back to the City collection is comprised of materials relating to Back to the City’s annual national conferences, particularly those held in Brooklyn and New York, N.Y. Materials focus on urban renewal and restoration efforts in the city in which the conference was held.

Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation publication and photograph collection, 1968–2007
Call number: ARC.124
0.1 linear feet
Link to finding aid.

The bulk of this collection consists of copies of the Corporation’s bi-monthly newsletter, spanning the dates 1970 to 1980. The newsletters document projects and events sponsored by Restoration, issues of concern to residents in the neighborhood, success stories of residents assisted by Restoration, etc.

Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce publications, 1919-2004
Call number: ARC.165
0.63 linear feet
Link to finding aid.

The collection contains periodicals and annual reports, including news of local business-related issues, such as trade, ordinances, and crime, as well as discussions of the impact of legislation and transportation growth on Brooklyn’s economy.

Brooklyn neighborhood associations and civic organizations publications, 1881-2010 (Bulk 1970-1999)
Call number: ARC.167
1.67 Linear Feet
Link to finding aid.

This collection includes annual reports, reports, newsletters, yearbooks, and programs from dozens of neighborhood organizations throughout Brooklyn.

Downtown Brooklyn Development Association records, 1929 to circa 1985
Call number: 1979.021
4.75 linear feet
Link to finding aid.

This collection comprises the subject files of the Downtown Brooklyn Development Association, a civic group concerned with the problems of the business and shopping center in downtown Brooklyn. The three subjects most comprehensively addressed are the development of the Brooklyn Civic Center (Cadman Plaza), the redevelopment of Fulton Street, and traffic and transportation.

Eastern Parkway Coalition records, 1952-2007
Call number: 2007.016
12.5 linear feet
Link to finding aid.

This collection is primarily composed of subject files, which document many issues which affected the Crown Heights and Prospect Heights neighborhoods of Brooklyn, including community gardens, housing and tenant rights, mass transit, summer youth programs, drug abuse, environmentalism, mental health, public parks, and urban renewal. In addition to subject files, the records include a series of plans and maps for the reconstruction of Eastern Parkway and other streets in the area.

Everett and Evelyn Ortner papers and photographs, 1873-2012 (bulk: 1965-2008)
Call number: ARC.306
51.85 Linear Feet
Link to finding aid.

The collection documents the Ortners personal and professional lives, especially their involvement in the historic preservation movement and Brooklyn cultural organizations. It includes the records of the Brownstone Revival Committee and Back to the City Conference.

H. Dickson McKenna collection, 1868-1991 (bulk: 1968-1989)
Call number: ARC.060
3.22 Linear feet
Link to finding aid.

The H. Dickson McKenna Collection contains materials compiled by architect and former Brooklyn resident H. Dickson McKenna, author of A House in the City: A Guide to Buying and Renovating Old Row Houses (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1971). The collection consists of news clippings, magazine articles, publications, brochures, flyers, newsletters, photographs, and ephemera, the majority concerning the brownstone movement and the development and renewal of Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Robert Vadheim Brooklyn Heights Association collection, 1964-1980
Call number: 1988.051
0.3 linear feet
Link to finding aid.

The collection consists of records compiled by Mr. Vadheim during his involvement with the Brooklyn Heights Association. The records include bulletins, reports, announcements and notices to membership.

Robert Vadheim Brooklyn neighborhood renewal and development collection, 1962-1987
Call number: 1987.002
2.33 linear feet
Link to finding aid.

The collection focuses on revival, renewal, and renovation efforts within Brooklyn’s neighborhoods and cultural institutions. In addition to Brooklyn neighborhoods, brownstones, and building restoration, the collection also documents the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the Brooklyn Bridge–particularly the 1983 Brooklyn Bridge Centennial.

Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island real estate brochure collection, circa 1920s-1950s
Call number: ARC 296
9 linear feet
Link to finding aid.

This collection primarily features advertisements for real estate in Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island. In addition to advertisements, the collection includes a number of blueprint maps. The collection is organized by region and neighborhood.

Ronald Shiffman collection on the Pratt Center for Community Development, 1950-2018
Call number: 2013.023
74.37 Linear Feet
Link to finding aid.

Ron Shiffman is a city planner, architect, and expert in community economic development and sustainable development assistance for community-based groups in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. This collection is a rich source of material pertaining to community-based planning, participatory and advocacy planning, self-help and sweat equity, housing programs and policies, community development corporations, and land use across New York City.

Brooklyn Historical Society vertical files, 1780-2018
Call number: ARC 315
18 linear feet
Link to finding aid.

The collection contains pamphlets, cards, advertisements, newspaper articles, magazines, letters documenting life in New York City and Long Island, including individual communities, organizations, and events.

Oral Histories

Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation Oral History collection, 2007-2008
Call number: 2008.030
57 interviews
Link to oral history portal, link to finding aid.

This collection of interviews was created by Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) and Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Restoration) to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Restoration’s founding as the first community development corporation (CDC) in the United States. Nearly sixty interviews were conducted with founding Board members, supporters, activists, artists, tenants, and other community members.

Sarita Daftary-Steel collection of East New York oral histories, 2014-2015
Call number: 2015.011
20 interviews
Link to oral history portal, link to finding aid.

This oral history project was designed to capture the experiences of East New York residents who lived in the neighborhood during the period when families of color (African American, West Indian, and Puerto Rican) moved in and White families moved out, and the resulting decline of services and quality of life that followed. This process began as early as the 1950s and continued through the rest of the twentieth century.

Voices of Brooklyn oral histories: Civic leaders and Community Activists, 1998-
Call number: 2008.031
10 interviews
Link to oral history portal, link to finding aid.

This collection includes oral histories collected through several projects undertaken by the Brooklyn Historical Society beginning in 2006. The assembled collection took shape in 2008 under the project title “Brooklyn History Makers.” The ongoing oral history collection, retitled in 2016, features a broad range of narrators: jazz musicians, business leaders, civil rights activists, authors, artists, sports players, and longtime neighborhood residents who describe the changes they have observed in their neighborhoods over decades.

Crown Heights History Project, 1993-1994
Call number: 1994.006
33 interviews
Link to oral history portal, link to finding aid.

The recordings contain over forty voices with perspectives on the racial tensions and discrimination that preceded three days of violence and unrest in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1991, the actions of the police, city government and mass media during the crisis, and the forms of reconciliation in the succeeding months.

Listen to This: Crown Heights Oral History collection, 2010
Call number: 2010.020
43 interviews
Link to oral history portal, link to finding aid.

The interviews were conducted with the help of the Crow Hill Community Association and five students from Paul Robeson High School. Included are perspectives from community activists, artists, business owners, retirees and young people. Narrators discuss the history of Crown Heights, their childhood and schooling, the changing landscape and ethnic makeup of the community over decades, their parenting and careers, volunteerism and activism, and mentoring or advising young people.

Voices of Crown Heights Oral Histories, 2016-2017
Call number: 2016.027
41 interviews
Link to oral history portal, link to finding aid.

This collection includes oral histories conducted by Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS), Brooklyn Movement Center (BMC), and Weeksville Heritage Center (WHC) as part of broader programming efforts by the three organizations to commemorate and examine the transforming Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn a quarter-century after the August 1991 conflicts and unrest sometimes called “the Crown Heights riot.” The oral history collection features a broad range of narrators; educators, community organizers, activists, entrepreneurs, artists, bloggers, and longtime neighborhood residents, who describe the changes they have observed in their neighborhood over decades.

Muslims in Brooklyn oral histories, 2018
Call number: 2018.006
50 interviews
Link to oral history portal, link to finding aid.

There is particular focus on cultural and religious customs, practices, and gender roles within these communities; education and the arts; immigration from South Asia and the Middle East; the Nation of Islam; Islamophobia in the wake of the 1993 and 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center as well as after the 2016 presidential election; political activism and engagement; and community relations with law enforcement and government officials.

Maps

Many neighborhood changes, such as evolving boundaries or land uses are often visible on maps. The Othmer Library holds a significant map collection, which is searchable through our online database. Additionally, researchers should make use of our fire insurance maps and atlases. A selection of maps is included below.

Central Brooklyn model cities area : model neighborhood boundaries.
New York (N.Y.). City Planning Commission. New York : N.Y. City Planning Commission, City of New York Office of the Mayor Model Cities Administration 1969
Flat Maps B A-1969a.Fl

Central Brooklyn community development plan: project boundary and land use plan.
New York (N.Y.). Housing and Development Administration. New York : City of New York Housing & Development Administration 1969
Flat Maps B A-1969.Fl

Bedford Stuyvesant I: urban renewal area : project boundary and land acquisition.
New York (N.Y.). Department of Housing Preservation and Development. New York : City of New York, Department of Housing Preservation and Development 1988
Flat Maps B P-1988.FL.Folio

Bedford Stuyvesant I : urban renewal area: land use plan.
New York (N.Y.). Department of Housing Preservation and Development. New York : City of New York, Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development 1988
Flat Maps B P-1988a.Fl.Folio

Central Brooklyn Neighborhood Development Program: Bedford Stuyvesant.
New York (N.Y.). Department of Housing Preservation and Development. New York : City of New York, Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development 1969
Flat Maps B P-1969.Fl.Folio

Books

Brooklyn’s Bushwick – urban renewal in New York, USA: community, planning and sustainable environments.
Raymond Charles Rauscher and Salim Momtaz (Cham: Springer, 2014)
Main Collection HT177.N5 R38 2014

Intractable democracy : fifty years of community-based planning.
Anusha Venkataraman. (Brooklyn, NY: Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development, Pratt, 2010).
Main Collection HT168.N5 I58 2010

Community information manual; Central Brooklyn edition.
Pratt Center for Community Improvement. Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council. Brooklyn, Pratt Center for Community Improvement in cooperation with the Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council, c1966.
Main Collection F129.B7 P73 1966

Pratt guide: a citizen’s handbook of housing, planning and urban renewal procedures in New York City.
Robert A. Alpern. (Brooklyn: Pratt Institute Community Education Program, 1965).
Main Collection HT168.N5 A66 1965

How East New York became a ghetto.
Walter Thabit. (New York: New York University Press, 2003).
Main Collection F129.B7 T47 2003

The ghettoization of Bedford-Stuyvesant: some implications for public policy.
Ernest Quimby (Brooklyn: 1976 Symposium, Brooklyn College, 1976).
Main Collection F129.B7 Q56p 1976

Brownsville, Brooklyn: Blacks, Jews, and the changing face of the ghetto.
Wendell E. Pritchett. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002).
Main Collection F129.B7 P75 2002

American apartheid : segregation and the making of the underclass.
Douglas S. Massey and Nancy A Denton. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993).
Main Collection E185.61 .M373 1993

Battle for Bed-Stuy : the long war on poverty in New York City.
Michael Woodsworth. (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2016).
Main Collection HC108.N7 W66 2016

The invention of brownstone Brooklyn : gentrification and the search for authenticity in postwar New York
Osman Suleiman. (New York, NY : Oxford University Press, c2011).
Main Collection F129.B7 O79 2011

Socioeconomic profiles : a portrait of New York City’s community districts from the 1980 & 1990 censuses of population and housing.
New York (N.Y.). Dept. of City Planning. (New York, N.Y.: The Dept., 1993).
Main Collection HA730.N5 N58 1993

There goes the ‘hood : views of gentrification from the ground up.
Lance Freeman. (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2006),
Main Collection HT177.N5 F74 2006

A house is on the outside; a home is on the inside: gentrification as a social movement (Thesis).
Susan B. Draper. (New York, NY: New York University, 1991).
Main Collection HT177.N5 D73 1991

The sixties belong to the city: a new approach to urban renewal conceived by the residents of Brooklyn Heights.
Richard J. Margolis. (New York : Arnold Malkan, 1960).
Reference Folio HT177.B7 M37 1960

Bargaining for Brooklyn : community organizations in the entrepreneurial city.
Nicole P. Marwell. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).
Main Collection HT177.N4 M379 2007

Central Brooklyn Model Cities : comprehensive city demonstration program.
New York (N.Y.). Model Cities Committee. (New York : City of New York, Office of the Mayor, 1969).
Main Collection HT177.B7 N58 1969

Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn Heights.: a study of the misuse of public power and funds in urban renewal.
Martin S James. 1970?
Reference Folio HT177.B7 C33 1970p

Redevelopment Proposals and Plans


Broadway Brooklyn: a commercial redevelopment strategy.
City Planning Commission. (New York: City of New York, Dept. of City Planning, 1979).
Main Collection HT177.B7 N58 1979

Cadman Plaza redevelopment project: Brooklyn, New York.
Arnold Malkan. (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Mayer Whittlesey & Glass, 1960).
Main Collection HT168.B7 C33 1960

The revitalization of Fulton Ferry: a prototype for waterfront redevelopment in New York City.
Deborah. Hoffmann. (New York : s.n., 1979).
Main Collection F129.B7 H64 1979

Cultural resources survey for base closure and realignment, redevelopment and reuse of excess property at Naval Station New York, Brooklyn, New York.
Baystate Environmental Consultants. United States. Naval Facilities Engineering Command. Northern Division. (East Longmeadow, Mass.: The Consultants, 1994).
Main Collection VA70.B7 B29 1994

Bay Ridge: preserving neighborhood character and scale through zoning.
Dept. of City Planning. (New York, NY: Dept. of City Planning, 1978).
Main Collection HT169.73.B76 N58 1978

Urban renewal in Brownsville: the management of urban renewal in Brownsville area 15, 1960-1973.
New York (State). State Study Commission for New York City. Housing and Development Administration Study Group. Frank J Macchiarola. New York, NY: State Study Commission for New York City, 1973).
Reference Folio HT177.B7 N585 1973

A plan for downtown Brooklyn and the civic centre.
Downtown Brooklyn Association, Inc. (New York, N.Y.) (Brooklyn, N.Y.: The Association, 1944).
Reference Folio F129.B7 D69 1944

Vest pocket housing in Bedford-Stuyvesant: a summary report to the community and city on some of the first steps in New York’s Model Cities Program.
Raymond & May Associates. New York (N.Y.). Housing and Development Administration. (New York, NY: The Firm, 1968).
Main Collection HD7288.72.B76 R39 1968

A post-war plan for Brownsville.
Milton J. Goell. (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Brownsville Neighborhood Council, c1944).
Main Collection F129.B7 G64 1944

Building a new Bedford-Stuyvesant : a report for the fiscal years 1969-70-71.
Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. (Brooklyn, N.Y.: The Corporation, 1971).
Main Collection F129.B7 B43 1971

Plan for the Brooklyn waterfront: New York City comprehensive waterfront plan.
New York (N.Y.). Dept. of City Planning. (New York, NY : The Dept. of City Planning, City of New York, 1994).
Main Collection HT168.N5 P535 1994

Downtown Brooklyn: a plan for continued progress : prepared for the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and Howard Golden, Brooklyn Borough President.
Regional Plan Association (New York, N.Y.). (New York, N.Y.: The Association, 1996).
Main Collection F129.B7 D69 1996

Montague Street revitalization: city options grant/National Endowment for the Arts: a New York City bicentennial project.
New York (N.Y.). Dept. of City Planning. (New York, N.Y.: The Dept., 1976).
Main Collection HT168.B7 N48 1976

Strategy for a coordinated social and physical renewal program : Bedford-Stuyvesant (Thesis).
Ron Shiffman. (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Pratt Institute, 1966.
Main Collection HT177.B7 S55 1966

A commercial revitalization strategy for Utica Avenue, Brooklyn.
New York (N.Y.). Dept. of City Planning. New York (N.Y.). (New York, N.Y.: The Dept., 1982).
Main Collection HT177.B7 N58 1982

A commercial revitalization plan for Brighton Beach.
New York (N.Y.). Dept. of City Planning. (New York, N.Y.: Dept. of City Planning, 1980).
Main Collection HT177.B7 N58 1980

Red Hook : a plan for community regeneration.
Community Board 6, Brooklyn, New York, N.Y. (Brooklyn, NY: Community Board 6, 1994).
Main Collection HT168.N5 R4325 1994

Documentary study of the Saratoga Square urban renewal area, Brooklyn, New York : prepared for the City of New York Department of Housing Preservation and Development, March 1993.
Joan H. Geismar New York (N.Y.)., Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development. New York, N.Y.: The Department, 1993).
Main Collection F129.B7 G45 1993

Documentation of the Wallabout urban renewal area housing site (Block 2027), Brooklyn, N.Y. : prepared for the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, October 14, 1988.
Joan H. Geismar New York (N.Y.)., Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development. (New York, N.Y.: The Department, 1988).Main Collection F129.B7 G45 1988

The future of the piers : planning and design criteria for Brooklyn piers 1-6.
Buckhurst, Fish, Hutton, Katz (Firm). Brooklyn Heights Association (New York, N.Y.). (New York, N.Y.: The Firm, 1987).
Main Collection HT177.B7 B83 1987 c.2

Additional Resources

NYC Department of City Planning
https://www1.nyc.gov/site/planning/data-maps/maps-geography.page

Visit the Plans and Studies section for maps related to ongoing or recent projects. Visit the Zoning Maps section for historical, current and proposed zoning maps. The Community Portal contains links to map resources for each of the 59 community districts. The NYC Population section contains a wealth of historical and current demographic, socioeconomic and housing maps.

NYU Furman Center
http://furmancenter.org/

State of the City’s Housing and Neighborhoods is an annual report that provides a compendium of data and analysis about New York City’s housing, land use, demographics, and quality of life for each borough and the city’s 59 community districts.

CoreData allows users to create customized maps, downloadable tables, and track NYC demographic and housing trends over time.

Center for Urban Research at the CUNY Graduate Center
https://www.gc.cuny.edu/CUR

CUNY Data Service: an archive of U.S. Census datasets and related statistical information.

CUNY Mapping Service: visual representations of NYC data in interactive maps.

Guide to Finding NYC Census Data, Baruch College, CUNY
http://guides.newman.baruch.cuny.edu/ld.php?content_id=7154885

This document summarizes the types of geographies you can use to study neighborhoods, the common census datasets that are available for these areas, and the sources you can use to access and download data.

This research guide was prepared by Maggie Schreiner in 2019.