East New York, Brooklyn, New York City
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East New York is a neighborhood in the eastern section of the borough of Brooklyn in New York City. It is bounded on the north by Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, on the west by Bedford-Stuyvesant, on the east by City Line, and on the south by New Lots. It is in the middle of Brooklyn Community Board 5. The neighborhood is home to many immigrant families. During the twentieth century, East New York came to be a commuter town predominantly inhabited by Hispanic, African American, and Italian American Brooklynites.
A chain of hills, geologically a terminal moraine, separates northwestern Long Island from Jamaica and the Hempstead Plains, the main part of Long Island's fertile outwash plain. Through one low spot in the chain passed a few 18th Century roads, including the ferry road or Jamaica Turnpike from Brooklyn to Jamaica, hence it was called "Jamaica Pass". During the American Revolutionary War an invading British and Hessian force marched through this pass in August 1776 to surprise and flank General George Washington and the Continental Army, winning the Battle of Long Island.
In the 19th Century the road to Brooklyn was renamed Fulton Street, and the one to Williamsburgh was renamed Broadway. The New York and Manhattan Beach Railway and the Long Island Rail Road were built through the pass. The point where they met was called Broadway Junction. As often happened at 19th Century railroad junctions, a railway town arose. Rapid transit lines were built and brought urban sprawl to this recently rustic northern part of the Town of New Lots. East New York was annexed as the 26th Ward of the rapidly growing City of Brooklyn.
In 1939, the WPA Guide to New York City wrote:
" The development of East New York began in 1835 through the enterprise of John R. Pitkin, a wealthy Connecticut merchant who visualized it as a great city rivaling New York. The Panic of 1837 smashed his hopes. After 1853, a modest development began. By the 1930s, the residents were chiefly Italians, Jewish, Germans, and Russians who moved in from Brownsville, Bushwick, and other near-by crowded localities. Many of the Slavic families continue to burn candles before icons, and observe religious fetes according to the old calendar... "
After World War II, thousands of manufacturing jobs left New York City thereby increasing the importance of the remaining jobs to those with limited education and job skills. During this same period, large numbers of Puerto Ricans and African-Americans emigrated to New York City looking for employment. East New York, no longer replete with the jobs the new residents had come for, was thereby faced with a host of new socioeconomic problems, including widespread unemployment and crime.
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