Prospect Heights is a neighborhood in the northwest of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. The traditional boundaries are Flatbush Avenue to the west, Atlantic Avenue to the north, Eastern Parkway – beginning at Grand Army Plaza – to the south, and Washington Avenue to the east. In the northern section of Prospect Heights are the Vanderbilt Rail Yards, built over as part of the Pacific Park (formerly Atlantic Yards) project. The Barclays Center, home to the NBA's Brooklyn Nets basketball team and part-time home to the NHL's New York Islanders ice hockey team, is located in the northwestern corner of the neighborhood in Pacific Park at Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues.
Compared to other Brooklyn neighborhoods, Prospect Heights is relatively small and is notable for its cultural diversity as well as its tree-lined streets. Prospect Heights has seen rapid demographic changes over the last decade, and its shifts are exemplified by a mixture of older buildings under reconstruction, rows of classic 1890s brownstones, and newly built luxury condominiums. The neighborhood is served by the New York Police Department's 77th Precinct.
Boundaries and land use
Along the southern boundary, Eastern Parkway, from Grand Army Plaza to Washington Avenue is reminiscent of Fifth Avenue's "Museum Mile" in Manhattan. Immense, opulent buildings line the north side of the parkway, and the south side features the Brooklyn Public Library, Mount Prospect Park (not to be confused with Prospect Park), the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the recently renovated Brooklyn Museum. To Prospect Heights' north lies Fort Greene, to its south Prospect Park, to its west Park Slope, and to its east Crown Heights.
The interior portion of the neighborhood consists mostly of brownstone-style residential rowhouse buildings, some built as early as 1890, although some blocks, such as Lincoln and St. Johns Place between Underhill and Washington Avenues, include larger multi-unit apartment buildings. A number of new condominium complexes are under construction in many parts of the neighborhood. Defunct bakeries and factory spaces line Pacific Street from Vanderbilt Avenue to Carlton Avenue, and some have recently been renovated and converted into lofts; still others have recently been purchased by developer Bruce Ratner in anticipation of his Pacific Park project. Recently, a number of these have begun to be demolished. Ratner's company Forest City Ratner has planned a controversial development on top of the neighborhood, the plans for which would include a basketball arena and luxury housing. An upscale, glass high-rise residential building designed by the architect Richard Meier and located off of Grand Army Plaza was completed in 2008.
As demand for housing within Prospect Heights increased, some residents of Crown Heights came to consider Franklin Avenue the western border with Prospect Heights rather than Washington Avenue. However, most residents continue to consider Washington Avenue the border, and Washington Avenue remains the eastern border of Prospect Heights as recognized by major New York City media such as The New York Times, The New York Post, and The Wall Street Journal.
The name "Prospect Heights" can be traced as far back as 1889 to a letter to the editor published in the Brooklyn Eagle, although at that time it was one of several potential names for the neighborhood that has since come to be known as Park Slope. The letter began by noting that it was "amusing to see the attempts made to fix upon a name for the rapidly growing part of Brooklyn near Prospect Park, bounded by Flatbush, Fifth and Ninth avenues, Some call it Park Slope, some Park Hill Side, some Prospect Heights and others Prospect Hill..." Additionally, Prospect Heights once shared the name "Gowanus Heights" with Prospect Park, Greenwood and Bay Ridge.
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In the late 2000s and early 2010s, the neighborhood experienced controversy over a development project by developer Bruce Ratner, initially designed by the architect Frank Gehry, for the portions of Prospect Heights and Fort Greene known as Pacific Park (formerly Atlantic Yards). This included the construction of the Barclays Center, an arena to serve as a new home for the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, as well as housing and commercial space in a cluster of high-rise buildings much taller than the borough's existing low-rise architecture. A number of community groups opposed the project, claiming abuse of the principles of eminent domain, among other concerns. Supporters of the project believed in its potential for reinvigorating an unattractive space.
Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of Prospect Heights was 19,849, an increase of 194 (1.0%) from the 19,655 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 237.30 acres (96.03 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 83.6 inhabitants per acre (53,500/sq mi; 20,700/km2).
The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 47.2% (9,359) White, 30.1% (5,979) African American, 0.2% (34) Native American, 6.6% (1,316) Asian, 0.1% (12) Pacific Islander, 0.5% (106) from other races, and 3.9% (768) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11.5% (2,275) of the population.
Culture and architecture
A diverse ethnic neighborhood in the 1910s through the 1960s, combining Italian, Irish, Jewish, German, Greek and Yankee residents, Prospect Heights is currently well known for its mixed black and white culture. Every year the West Indian Day Parade, the largest annual parade in New York City, follows Eastern Parkway, beginning in Crown Heights and ending at Grand Army Plaza in Prospect Heights. During the last thirty years, the neighborhood has seen an influx of new residents, increasingly young and white, perhaps due to real estate prices slightly lower than neighboring Park Slope. A thriving commercial zone has emerged along Vanderbilt Avenue and Washington Avenue, which since 2000 has seen a surge in new bars, restaurants, and specialty shops, including New York's first steampunk bar, boutique wine shops, a restaurant opened by Michelin-starred chef Saul Bolton, and stores emphasizing gourmet/artisanal mayonnaise and ice cream.
The area has many Italianate and Neo-Grec rowhouses, and much of the neighborhood has been designated a New York City historic district. The Prospect Heights Historic District covers an area roughly bounded by Flatbush Avenue, Sterling Place, Washington Avenue, and St. Marks Avenue, though a section of the historic district extends as far north as Pacific Street. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. The district was designated by the city Landmarks Preservation Commission on June 23, 2009, and approved by the New York City Council on September 17, 2009. It is the fifth largest historic district in New York City.
The Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, built in 1912 in Spanish Colonial style, is located at 856 Pacific Street between Vanderbilt and Underhill Avenues in Prospect Heights.
The neighborhood is also notable for its unusual street grid. The original street plan was based upon Lenape Indian paths and the boundaries of Dutch farms. In 1839, this was redrawn to better match the rest of Brooklyn, resulting in several buildings that are oddly-shaped or face the street at an angle.
- Barbara Barrie, actress
- Matt Berninger, musician
- Matt Bomer, actor
- Clara Bow, actress
- Foxy Brown, rapper
- Aaron Copland, Clara Bow and Howard Cosell went to the old Public School 9 at the corner of Sterling and Vanderbilt.
- Bobby Fischer Chess grandmaster lived on Lincoln Place near Underhill
- MC Frontalot, founder, Nerdcore
- Keith Gessen, co-editor-in-chief of n+1, novelist
- Montego Glover, actress
- Ingrid Michaelson, singer, songwriter
- Isa Chandra Moskowitz vegan chef, cookbook writer, and host of "The Post Punk Kitchen", which is filmed in Prospect Heights
- Michael Moss, Pulitzer Prize winning author
- Eddie Ocampo, drummer
- Joe Pepitone NY Yankees player lived on St. Mark’s Place between Vanderbilt and Washington
- Joan Rivers, comedian
- Mark Rudd, leader in the 1960s' Weather Underground, and Columbia University's 1968 protests. When he lived "underground" in the early 1970s, it was in one of the large apartment buildings on Plaza Street.
- Emanuel Weiss, member of the Mafia hit squad Murder, Inc. during the 1930s
- Tobias Wilner, musician
In popular culture
In the movie Frances Ha, the title character lives in Prospect Heights, sharing an apartment at an address given as "682 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn, NY." The address is fictitious, being slightly higher than the highest Vanderbilt Avenue address. Were it to exist it would be within Prospect Heights' boundaries, as Vanderbilt Avenue ends at Grand Army Plaza.
In the televise series Living Single, Queen Latifah's character, Khadijah James, when sharing a cab, noted her address as "Prospect Heights" in the episode "Fatal Distraction." The show primarily takes place in one of the 1890s brownstones.
- Berck, Judith, "Prospect Heights" in Jackson, Kenneth T., ed. (2010), The Encyclopedia of New York City (2nd ed.), New Haven: Yale University Press, ISBN 978-0-300-11465-2, p.1042. The Encyclopedia names Washington Avenue as the eastern border.
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- Mooney, Jake (2010-06-16). "Living In-Crown Heights, Brooklyn". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
- De Avila, Joseph (2010-12-11). "Prospect Heights: Slope Appeal With Edge". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2010-12-16.
- "NYPD Precinct Finder". Nyc.gov. 2015-01-18. Retrieved 2015-01-18.
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- "Crown Heights Borders and Boundaries – The Results" on nostrandpark.com
- "Slope, Heights or Hill". Brooklyn Eagle. March 17, 1889. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
- Higgins, Charles Michael (1916). Brooklyn and Gowanus in History: The Battle of Long Island, August 27, 1776. Brooklyn Eagle Press. p. 6. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
- Table PL-P5 NTA: Total Population and Persons Per Acre - New York City Neighborhood Tabulation Areas*, 2010, Population Division - New York City Department of City Planning, February 2012. Accessed June 16, 2016.
- Table PL-P3A NTA: Total Population by Mutually Exclusive Race and Hispanic Origin - New York City Neighborhood Tabulation Areas*, 2010, Population Division - New York City Department of City Planning, March 29, 2011. Accessed June 14, 2016.
- New York Times profile, 2013-06-09
- phndc.org. "Prospect Heights Historic District". phndc.org. Retrieved 2012-06-08.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
- Keith, Stephanie (17 February 2011). "Lost on the Old Grid: The History Behind Prospect Heights' Diagonal Buildings". Prospect Heights-Crown Heights-PLG, NY Patch. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
- Jackson, Josh (April 2007). "LOST Magazine - 323 Prospect Place". www.lostmag.com. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
- Stenn, David (1988). Clara Bow:Runnin' Wild. Doubleday. p. 322. ISBN 0-385-24125-9.
- Media related to Prospect Heights, Brooklyn at Wikimedia Commons