For centuries, New York City has been known as a melting pot, attracting immigrants from all over the world. Brooklyn, of course, is no exception, and the borough is host to cultures from just about everywhere. Here are six Brooklyn neighborhoods known for their tight-knit, vibrant immigrant populations.
Sunset Park is home to two immigrant communities, Hispanic and Chinese. The Sunset Park Chinatown is one of the largest and fastest growing ethnic Chinese enclaves outside of Asia — it has actually surpassed the size of Manhattan’s Chinatown. This rapidly-evolving enclave is now home to predominantly immigrants from Fujian Province in Mainland China.
A wave of Puerto Rican immigration in the 1950s to Sunset Park also solidified the neighborhood as a Latino enclave. Today Latinos, in general, are the dominant ethnic group in Sunset Park, with many residents hailing from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico.
Chinese New Year celebration photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
West Indian American Day Carnival, 2014 | WIADCA via Facebook
Crown Heights is home to the most varied population of Caribbean immigrants outside the West Indies. This is reflected in the shops and restaurants. (If you haven’t tried roti, this is the neighborhood to try it in.) The culture is on display most prominently at the annual West Indian American Day Carnival. Every Labor Day, over 3.5 million people participate in the vivid parade, many of them dressed up in spectacular costumes.
There is also a strong Orthodox Jewish community in Crown Heights that dates back to the 1950s and 1960s. The neighborhood is the site of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic Jewish movement.
Seafood soup | Sahadi’s via Facebook
Although Boerum Hill is one of the more gentrified neighborhoods in the borough, along Atlantic Avenue you can see evidence of Brooklyn’s Muslim community. The Al Farooq mosque is located on Atlantic, right across from Atlantic Terminal, and adjacent to the mosque are several stores that specialize in religious texts, clothing for men and women, incense, perfume, and religious objects.
Travel west on Altantic Avenue toward Cobble Hill and you’ll find another short block of Middle Eastern food stores and restaurants. There’s the very popular grocer, Sahadi’s, as well as bakeries, restaurants, and specialty food stores. These days, those shops cater to a largely non-Muslim clientele.
Flatbush Avenue BID’s street fair | via Ditmas Park Corner
Flatbush is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in all of Brooklyn. Before the 1980s, the area was home to Italian, African American, and Jewish communities. Then a wave of immigration brought newcomers primarily from the Caribbean. Haitians are now the largest ethnic group in Flatbush. There have also been immigrants from South Asia, primarily India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and African countries like Ghana, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and Kenya.
Polish dining | Krolewskie Jadlo via Facebook
There have been three major waves of immigration from Poland in Greenpoint, and the neighborhood is still considered New York’s “Little Poland.” The first wave came during the early 19th century, the second after World War I, and the final wave post-World War II. A more recent influx of Polish immigration, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, secured the neighborhood as a Polish enclave. Today, it’s not uncommon to find three generations of family members living in the community.
Paella marinera at El Mio Cid | Wing L. via Yelp
Bushwick is another Brooklyn neighborhood home to many diverse cultures. But about 70 percent of the population is Hispanic, making this neighborhood the largest hub of Brooklyn’s Hispanic-American community. Immigrants are mainly Puerto Rican and Dominican, while other residents hail from Mexico, El Salvador, and South America. You’ll see the Hispanic community reflected in many local businesses and restaurants. Popular neighborhood restaurants are El Mio Cid, Zefe’s Mexican Restaurant, and El Rey III.