population - 2,504,700
Brooklyn is a borough headed in two directions simultaneously. In one, there are the young hipsters, artists, yuppies and the stroller set changing — no, overhauling — neighborhoods from Bushwick to Windsor Terrace. In the other direction are crime-ridden enclaves that have remained largely untouched by the recent wave of gentrification.
The five neighborhoods with the highest murder rate per capita in 2010 were in Brooklyn, including East New York, Brownsville, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights and East Flatbush. In 2010, those neighborhoods accounted for more than 130 murders, roughly 25 percent of the total murders across the city. Overall, the borough had 222 murders, for 41 percent of the city's total. While East New York's 33 murders in 2010 were a far cry from the staggering 126 in 1993 at the height of drug violence — a drop attributable in part to aggressive policing — the neighborhood reversed its downward trend in murder in recent years, jumping 38 percent from 2009 to 2010. Brownsville had the second-worst violent-crime rate in the city and New York's highest per capita murder and robbery rates.
Drop in grand larceny, 2009 to 2010
Rise in murder, 2009 to 2010
At the same time, Brooklyn also had the two neighborhoods with the fewest murders per capita. Greenpoint, on the borough's northern edge, and Kensington & Borough Park, in central Brooklyn, had no murders in 2010. Also among the safest 10 are Bay Ridge, with one killing, and Williamsburg, with two. Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Sheepshead Bay and Kensington & Borough Park also had among the fewest violent crimes in the city that year. Those neighborhoods were in the top 10 overall safest neighborhoods in the city.
Brooklyn is undergoing widespread gentrification as everyone knows. Bushwick, once the epicenter of riots during the 1977 blackout, has seen a 71 percent drop in murder from 1993 to 2010 and a 70 percent decrease in muggings in that period. Now it attracts hipsters priced out of Williamsburg. And Williamsburg, which like Bushwick was once a haven for crime, began to turn around in the 1990s, with a 91 percent dip in the murder rate. Now trustafarians mingle with, and sometimes are, luxury condominium owners.
Fort Greene, which, along with Clinton Hill, was once home to "Murder Avenue," a nickname for Myrtle Avenue, has reinvented itself with a steady stream of new shops. Still, it has one of the highest robbery, burglary and murder rates per capita in the city, and ranks 55th overall in violent crimes.
Before the gentrifiers, each of these neighborhoods had its own character. The challenge going forward will be to retain that character while welcoming new residents.
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