• Photo: Mary Robnett


The sense of change is palpable in the largely industrial areas of Bushwick and East Williamsburg, two diverse neighborhoods south and east of central Williamsburg. Buildings splashed with vibrant street art stand alongside factories that make everything from plastic bags to wontons and tortillas. Roberta's pizzeria was a force of transformation when it opened in 2008, serving top-quality casual food in a space reclaimed from what felt like an industrial wasteland. Now, a remarkably short time later, some of Brooklyn's most exciting restaurants, bars, and cafés draw a varied international clientele. The bustle of creativity in evidence here brings an inevitable tension, but also represents a major resurgence for an area that rose high in the 19th century as a center of glass, chemical, and beer production but then experienced a 20th-century decline with low points that included widespread rioting and looting during New York City's July 1977 blackout. These two diverse neighborhoods are home to many Puerto Ricans, who, drawn by work at Brooklyn Navy Yard, first started arriving in the 1940s. Immigrants from the Dominican Republic and Central America have also settled here in large numbers and maintain a vital presence. Flushing Avenue, which runs roughly east–west, is the dividing line between Bushwick and East Williamsburg. Bushwick Avenue runs north–south through both neighborhoods.


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