Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights Travel Guide
  • Photo: Jennifer Arnow

Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights

Bedford-Stuyvesant (known as Bed-Stuy) and Crown Heights, two large, exciting, and diverse neighborhoods south of Williamsburg and southwest of Bushwick, are noteworthy for their deep African American roots, landmarked architecture, and dynamic mix of ethnic restaurants, cool bars and cafés, and stylish shops. Starting in the 1870s, many residences, storefronts, and churches were erected to accommodate an influx of middle- and upper-middle-class white families, who were then joined, and mostly replaced by, African Americans from the South, black West Indian immigrants, Italians, and Orthodox Jews. In Bed-Stuy's Stuyvesant Heights district and on Dean Street in Crown Heights, it's a sheer delight to encounter whole blocks of beautifully preserved Italianate brownstones, or to experience the grandeur of a Romanesque Revival church or a Renaissance Revival apartment house. Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights prospered into the 1960s but experienced periodic race riots and subsequent high crime that lasted into the 1990s. It’s easiest to sense the area's reboot in booming, youthful Crown Heights, where most of the new action is concentrated along Franklin Avenue north of Eastern Parkway, the main drag. Bed-Stuy, whose main artery is Bedford Avenue, which runs north–south, is more spread out, and gritty blocks are interspersed with inviting pockets of restaurants and shops.

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