Park Slope is a neighborhood in northwest Brooklyn, New York City. Park Slope is roughly bounded by Prospect Park and Prospect Park West to the east, Fourth Avenue to the west, Flatbush Avenue to the north, and Prospect Expressway to the south. Generally, the section from Flatbush Avenue to Garfield Place (the “named streets”) is considered the “North Slope”, the section from 1st through 9th Streets is considered the “Center Slope”, and south of 10th Street, the “South Slope”. The neighborhood takes its name from its location on the western slope of neighboring Prospect Park. Fifth Avenue and Seventh Avenue are its primary commercial streets, while its east-west side streets are lined with brownstones and apartment buildings.
Park Slope features historic buildings, top-rated restaurants, bars, and shops, as well as proximity to Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, and the Central Library as well as the Park Slope branch of the Brooklyn Public Library system. The neighborhood had a population of about 62,200 as of the 2000 census, resulting in a population density of approximately 68,000/square mile, or approximately 26,000/square kilometer.
Park Slope is considered one of New York City’s most desirable neighborhoods. In 2010, it was ranked number 1 in New York by New York Magazine, citing its quality public schools, dining, nightlife, shopping, access to public transit, green space, safety, and creative capital, among other aspects. It was named one of the “Greatest Neighborhoods in America” by the American Planning Association in 2007, “for its architectural and historical features and its diverse mix of residents and businesses, all of which are supported and preserved by its active and involved citizenry.” In December 2006, Natural Home magazine named Park Slope one of America’s ten best neighborhoods based on criteria including parks, green spaces and neighborhood gathering spaces; farmers’ markets and community gardens; public transportation and locally owned businesses; and environmental and social policy. Park Slope is part of Brooklyn Community Board 6.
The area that today comprises the neighborhood of Park Slope was first inhabited by the Native Americans of the Lenape people. The Dutch colonized the area by the 17th century and farmed the region for more than 200 years. During the American Revolutionary War, on August 27, 1776, the Park Slope area served as the backdrop for the beginning of the Battle of Long Island. In this battle, over 10,000 British soldiers and Hessian mercenaries routed outnumbered American forces. The historic site of Battle Pass is now preserved in Prospect Park, and on Fifth Avenue there is a reconstruction of the stone farmhouse where a countercharge covered the American retreat.
In the 1850s, a local lawyer and railroad developer named Edwin Clarke Litchfield (1815–1885) purchased large tracts of what was then farmland. Through the American Civil War era, he sold off much of his land to residential developers. During the 1860s, the City of Brooklyn purchased his estate and adjoining property to complete the West Drive and the southern portion of the Long Meadow in Prospect Park. However, Park Slope’s bucolic period ended soon after. By the late 1870s, with horse-drawn rail cars running to the park and the ferry, bringing many rich New Yorkers in the process, urban sprawl dramatically changed the neighborhood into a streetcar suburb. Many of the large Victorian mansions on Prospect Park West, known as the Gold Coast, were built in the 1880s and 1890s to take advantage of the beautiful park views. Today, many of these buildings are preserved within the 24-block Park Slope Historic District, one of New York’s largest landmarked neighborhoods. By 1883, with the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, Park Slope continued to boom and subsequent brick and brownstone structures pushed the neighborhood’s borders farther. The 1890 census showed Park Slope to be the richest community in the United States.
In 1892, President Grover Cleveland presided over the unveiling of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch at Grand Army Plaza, a notable Park Slope landmark. The Park Slope Armory was completed in 1893. Nearby, Old Stone House is a 1930 reconstruction of the Vechte-Cortelyou House which was destroyed in 1897. It is located on Third Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues, beside the former Gowanus Creek.
Realtors and community members saw a clear connection between Park Slope’s bucolic setting and the comfort of living there. As the New York Tribune wrote in 1899, “Nature set the park down where it is, and man has embellished her work in laying out great lawns and artificial lakes, in bringing together menageries and creating conservatories, in making roads and driveways, and in doing everything in his power to make the place a pleasant pleasure ground and a charming resort.
Baseball had also played a prominent role in the history of the Park Slope area. From 1879 to 1889, the Brooklyn Atlantics (later to become the Dodgers) played at Washington Park on 5th Avenue between 3rd and 4th Streets. When the park was destroyed by a fire, the team moved to their part-time home in Ridgewood, Queens and then to a park in East New York. In 1898, the “New” Washington Park was built between Third and Fourth Avenues and between First and Third Streets near the Gowanus Canal. The team, by this point known as the Dodgers, played to an ever-growing fan base at this location. By the end of the 1912 season, it was clear that the team had outgrown the field, and the neighborhood. Team owner Charles Ebbets moved the team to his Ebbets Field stadium in Flatbush for the beginning of the 1913 season. The team went on to have historic crosstown rivalries with both the New York Giants and New York Yankees.
1960 air collision
On December 16, 1960, two airliners collided above Staten Island, killing 134 people in what was the worst U.S. aviation disaster at that time. One of the airplanes, a Douglas DC-8 operating by United Airlines, was able to stay airborne for a few miles before crashing near the corner of Sterling Place and Seventh Avenue, destroying several buildings. Everyone on board was instantly killed, except for one 11-year-old boy, Stephen Baltz, who survived the night at nearby New York Methodist Hospital before succumbing to his injuries. Six people on the ground were also killed, including Wallace E. Lewis, the church’s 90-year-old caretaker; Charles Cooper, a sanitation worker who was shoveling snow; Joseph Colacino and John Opperisano, who were selling Christmas trees on the sidewalk; Dr. Jacob L. Crooks, who was out walking his dog; and Albert Layer, the owner of a butcher shop located just off Seventh Avenue on Sterling Place.
By the 1950s, many of the wealthy and middle-class families fled for the suburban life and Park Slope became a rougher, more working-class neighborhood. It became mostly Italian and Irish in the 1950s and 1960s, though this changed by 1970s as the black and Latino population of the Slope increased and many of the Italian and Irish population began to relocate.
Some of those that did not relocate reacted violently to the ethnic changes to the neighborhood; for example, white residents of Park Slope attempted to bar African-Americans from participating in after-school programs at William Alexander Middle School in 1966. After this failed, white teenagers engaged in firebomb attacks on African-American homes on Fourth Street. In 1968, a street fight between Italian and African-American gangs occurred at Fifth Avenue and President Street, using bricks and bottles as weapons; in the aftermath of the fight, fourteen African-Americans and three Italian-Americans were arrested.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the renovation of a now-US$4.8 million brownstone along Berkeley Place sparked a trend where the rest of the brownstones were cleaned up, and the grittiness of the neighborhood was removed. Young professionals began to buy and renovate brownstones (which only cost around US$15,000–35,000 at the time), often converting them from rooming houses into single and two-family homes. Preservationists helped secure landmark status for many of the neighborhood’s blocks of historic row houses, brownstone, and Queen Anne, Renaissance Revival, and Romanesque mansions. After the 1973 creation of the landmark district, primarily above 7th Avenue, the rate of gentrification was sped up, and throughout the 1970s, the area saw an influx of young professional couples.
By the early 1980s, however, even as the gentrification of the neighborhood was rapidly proceeding, crime was soaring, along with crime in the rest of New York City. In addition to a rumored crack house near Prospect Park, the neighborhood was affected by daily muggings and shootings.
Gentrification accelerated during the 1980s and 1990s as working-class families were generally replaced by upper-middle-class people being priced out of Manhattan or Brooklyn Heights. The Park Slope Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The influx of these new upper middle class residents has made Park Slope one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Sociologist and urban theorist Sharon Zukin has written of the trend, “In Park Slope, the middle class found a sense of history and a picturesque quality that fit their sense of themselves.” Since the mid-1990s young and childless professionals who in previous decades would most likely have lived in Manhattan have been moving to the neighborhood in ever-increasing numbers. Gentrification has also overflowed even into the surrounding areas, such as Prospect Heights to the north and Windsor Terrace to the southeast.
A 2001 report by the New York City Rent Guidelines Board found that from 1990 to 1999, rents in Park Slope increased by 3.5–4.4% per year, depending on what kind of building the apartment was in. Due to the rise in property values in Park Slope, the neighborhood experienced a boundary rebranding, in which real-estate agents coalesced Fort Greene into Bedford-Stuyvesant; South Slope, Prospect Heights, Windsor Terrace, Gowanus, Greenwood Heights, and Boerum Hill into part of greater Park Slope.
- The Park Slope Food Coop on Union Street has approximately 17,000 members from Park Slope and other neighborhoods. Only members may shop there, and membership requires a work commitment of 2 3⁄4 hours every four weeks.
- The Park Slope Volunteer Ambulance Corps provides free emergency medical services to community members.
- The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, part of the Brooklyn Queens Conservatory of Music, is a community music school, offering music classes, ensembles and choral opportunities, and individual instrumental and vocal lessons to students from 18 months old to adults. It was founded in 1897.
- Christian Help, Inc. Park Slope (CHiPS) is a soup kitchen that serves 200-250 men and women daily. Its Frances Residency Program provides shelter and support for young homeless mothers and their infants and toddlers; it was founded in 1971.
Park Slope is home to a wide variety of religious institutions, or houses of worship, including many churches and synagogues; most are historic buildings, and date back many decades.
- All Nations Baptist Church (Baptist)
- All Saints’ Church (Episcopal)
- Church of Gethsemane (Presbyterian)
- Grace United Methodist Church of Brooklyn (Methodist)
- Greenwood Baptist Church (Baptist)
- Memorial Baptist Church (Baptist)
- Old First Reformed Church (Reformed)
- Park Slope United Methodist Church (Methodist)
- Resurrection Coptic Catholic Chapel (Coptic)
- St Francis Xavier (Catholic)
- St John’s (Episcopal)
- St John-St Matthew-Emanuel (Lutheran (ELCA))
- St Mary’s (Melkite Eastern Rite Catholic)
- St Saviour’s (Catholic)
- St Thomas Aquinas (Catholic)
- Trinity Grace Church (Non-Denominational)
There is a significant Jewish population in Park Slope, allowing for a number of synagogues along the religious spectrum. In addition to a number of synagogues, there is an eruv, sponsored by members of the various communities, that surrounds Park Slope.
- Park Slope Jewish Center (Conservative), 14th Street and Eighth Avenue
- Congregation B’nai Jacob (Modern Orthodox), 401 9th Street
- Congregation Beth Elohim (Reform), 274 Garfield Place; this is the largest Reform Jewish synagogue in Brooklyn, and is also the longest running congregation.
- Congregation Kolot Chayeinu (Unaffiliated), 1012 Eighth Avenue
Public schools are operated by the New York City Department of Education. Park Slope is in two different community school districts – district 13 and district 15. The border between these two districts is Union Street from Prospect Park West to Sixth Avenue and then President Street from Fourth to Sixth Avenue. North of this border is District 13, south of this border is district 15. Students are zoned to schools for elementary school Both district 13 and district 15 place students in middle school based on the student’s ranking of acceptable middle schools; the district 13 portion of Park Slope receives district 15 (not district 13) middle school choice consistent with the rest of the neighborhood. The former John Jay High School is now the John Jay Educational Campus, housing three high schools and one combination middle/high school.
- K-280, School of Journeys (preK, dist. 15) on Nineteenth Street, between Prospect Park West and Tenth Avenue.
- PS 10, Magnet School of Math, Science, and Design Technology (K-5, dist. 15) on Seventeenth Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.
- PS 39, Henry Bristow School (preK-5, dist. 15) on Sixth Avenue, between Seventh and Eighth Streets.
- PS 107, John W. Kimball Learning Center (K–5, dist. 15) on Eighth Avenue, between Thirteenth and Fourteenth Streets.
- PS 118, the Maurice Sendak Community School (preK-5, dist. 15) on Fourth Avenue, between Seventh and Eighth Streets.
- PS 124, Silas B. Dutcher Elementary School (preK-5, dist. 15) on Fourth Avenue, between Thirteenth and Fourteenth Streets.
- PS 133, William A. Butler School (preK-5, dist. 13, with admissions open to both dist. 13 and 15) on Fourth Avenue, between Butler and Baltic Streets.
- PS/MS 282, Park Slope School (preK-8, dist. 13) on Sixth Avenue, between Berkeley Place and Lincoln Place.
- PS 321, the William Penn School (K-5, dist. 15) on Seventh Avenue, between First and Second Streets.
- MS 51, William Alexander Middle School (6–8, dist. 15) on Fifth Avenue, between Fourth and Fifth Streets.
- MS 266, Park Place School (6-8, dist. 13) on Park Place between Fifth and Sixth (temporarily relocated until 2018 to PS 93 in Crown Heights as building is reconstructed)
- John Jay Educational Campus (formerly John Jay HS, dist. 15), 237 Seventh Avenue between Fourth and Fifth Streets. The building houses four schools:
- Park Slope Collegiate (6-12)
- Millennium Brooklyn High School (9-12)
- Secondary School for Journalism (9-12)
- Secondary School for Law (9-12)
- Beth Elohim Day School (preK-K) on Eighth Avenue and Garfield Place.
- Berkeley Carroll School (preK–12) on Lincoln Place, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues; Carroll Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues; and President Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues.
- Brooklyn Free School (ages 5–15) on Sixteenth Street, between Fourth and Fifth Avenues. See democratic education.
- Bishop Ford Central Catholic High School (9–12) 500 19th St.
- Chai Tots Preschool Corner of Prospect Park West and 3rd St.
- Montessori School of New York (ages 2–13) on Eighth Avenue between Carroll and President Streets. See Montessori.
- Poly Prep’s Lower School (part of Poly Prep Country Day School) (PreK-4) on Prospect Park West between First and Second Streets.
- St. Francis Xavier (Catholic School) (K-8). 763 President St. between 6th & 7th Avenue.
- St. Saviour Elementary School (Catholic School) (preK-8) 8th Ave between 7th and 8th Street
- St. Saviour High School (all-girls Catholic School) (9-12) 6th Street between 8th Avenue and Prospect Park West
- St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Academy 241 Prospect Park West (preK (age 3)-8)
- Jon Abrahams (born 1977)
- Steve Buscemi (born 1957)
- David Cross (born 1964)
- Kathryn Erbe (born 1966)
- Laurence Fishburne (born 1961)
- Zena Grey (born 1988)
- Maggie Gyllenhaal (born 1977), actress.
- John Hodgman (born 1971), author, actor, and humorist.
- Robin Johnson (born 1964), actress.
- Terry Kinney (born 1954), actor and theatre director, who is a founding member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
- Athan Maroulis (born 1964), actor, vocalist and record producer.
- Kelly McGillis (born 1957), actress.
- Wentworth Miller (born 1972), actor, model, screenwriter and producer.
- Sarah Paulson (born 1974), actress.
- Colin Quinn (born 1959), stand-up comedian, actor and writer, best known for his work on Saturday Night Live.
- Keri Russell (born 1976), actress and dancer.
- Peter Sarsgaard (born 1971), actor.
- Streeter Seidell (born 1982), comedian, writer, actor, and TV host.
- Michael Showalter (born 1970), comedian, actor, producer, writer, and director.
- Patrick Stewart (born 1940), actor whose career has included roles on stage, television, and film.
- Julia Stiles (born 1981), actress
- John Turturro (born 1957), actor, writer and filmmaker.
- John Ventimiglia (born 1963), actor best known for his role as Artie Bucco in the HBO television series, The Sopranos
- Foxy Brown (born 1978), rapper, model, and actress.
- Jim Black (born 1967), jazz drummer.
- Ravi Coltrane (born 1965), Jazz saxophonist.
- Jonathan Coulton (born 1970), singer-songwriter.
- Simone Dinnerstein (born 1972), classical pianist.
- Dave Douglas (born 1963), jazz trumpeter and composer.
- Mark Feldman (born 1955), jazz violinist.
- Michael Hearst (born 1972), composer, multi-instrumentalist, writer, producer and founding member of One Ring Zero.
- Angélique Kidjo (born 1960), singer-songwriter.
- Scott Klopfenstein (born 1977), musician and a former member of the band Reel Big Fish.
- Talib Kweli born 1975), hip hop recording artist.
- John Linnell (born 1959), singer-songwriter of They Might Be Giants.
- Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (born 1975), songwriters / composers who wrote the song “Let It Go” for the movie Frozen.
- Ingrid Michaelson (born 1979), singer and songwriter.
- Pumpkinhead (1975-2015), rapper and hip hop artist.
- Geoff Rickly (born 1979, lead singer and songwriter of Thursday.
- Jay Rodriguez
- Michael Schoen
- Chris Speed
- Scott Tixier
- Michael Weiss
- Dan Zanes
- Janine Antoni
- Jean-Michel Basquiat
- Alex Grey
- Brett Helquist
- Paul Ramirez Jonas
- Byron Kim
- Joe Mangrum
- David Rees
- Lisa Sigal
- Joan Snyder
- Lane Twitchell
- Paul Auster
- Franco Ambriz
- Joan Bauer
- Richard Bernstein
- Peter Blauner
- Howard Bloom
- Charles Blow
- Helen Boyd
- Jhumpa Lahiri
- Arthur Bradford
- Jane Brody
- Bruce Brooks
- Rudolph Delson
- Andrea Dworkin
- Dave Eggers
- Jennie Fields
- Jonathan Safran Foer
- Ben Greenman
- Pete Hamill
- Colin Harrison
- Kathryn Harrison
- Lindsey Kelk
- John Hodgman
- Siri Hustvedt
- Steven Berlin Johnson
- Norton Juster
- Jim Knipfel
- Nicole Krauss
- Jonathan Lethem
- Clifford J. Levy
- Michael Patrick MacDonald
- Daisy Martinez
- Rick Moody
- Itamar Moses
- Robert Reuland
- Adam Roberts (stage name Amateur Gourmet)
- Elizabeth Royte
- Brian Selznick
- Jon Scieszka
- David Shenk
- Marilyn Singer
- Amy Sohn
- Christopher Stackhouse
- John Stoltenberg
- Darin Strauss
- Ned Vizzini
- Brian Wood
- Jacqueline Woodson
- William Upski Wimsatt
- Carol Bellamy
- James F. Brennan
- Hugh Carey
- Bill de Blasio
- Francis Edwin Dorn
- Patrick Gaspard
- William Jay Gaynor
- Chris Hayes
- Brad Lander
- Marty Markowitz
- Chirlane McCray
- Gene Russianoff
- Chuck Schumer
- Anthony Weiner
- Henry Petroski
- Fabiano Caruana