Downtown Brooklyn is the third largest commercial district in NYC, serving as a bustling intersection of commerce and municipal infrastructure for Brooklyn. The area is practically known for its mix of residential and office buildings, like the MetroTech Center and the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower.
The Lenape tribe lived in the area until the seventeenth century, when the Dutch seized control and dubbed it Breuckelen. Downtown Brooklyn still, however, did not become extensively populated until 1814, when the advent of Robert Fulton’s steam ferry offered people an easy method of commuting back and forth from downtown Manhattan. After World War II, the City Planning Commission and the Borough President’s Office adopted a program for public improvement, which led to street widening, construction of housing on a wide scale, and new City and State buildings. In the 70s, Boerum Place and Livingston became the site of a 23-story office tower, and the world-famous Brooklyn Academy of Music started to expand, turning it into an anchor for the area.
The Brooklyn Academy of Music, or BAM’s, mission is to be the “preeminent progressive performing and cinema arts center of the twenty-first century.” It annually attracts a number of world-class performers, including Ian McKellan. Having opened its doors in 1861, it is America’s oldest theatre to have operated continuously since its opening and presents up to 220 performances a year. It also has a cinema, which boasts 3 screens, is open all year, and presents new films, classics, and student films. BAM has its own restaurant and bar. It also, of course, is a school, that teaches 24,000 students each year.
Other area landmarks include the Kings County New York State courthouse, Brooklyn Borough Hall (which hosts a Greenmarket with fresh produce three times a week), the Federal Eastern District of New York’s central courthouse, the New York Transit Museum, Cadman Plaza Park, and Fulton Mall.
Popular area restaurants include Curry Leaf, Queen Ristorante, Samantha’s Southern Cuisine, Ruthie’s Restaurant, Zam’s, Bagelox, Café Bombay Indian Cuisine, Continental Ristorante, Cuzin’s Duzin, Dallas BBQ, El Dorado Restaurant, and Galaxy Restaurant. Residents also hang out at local bars such as 31 Rockwell’s, La Caverna, 200 Fifth, Armando’s, Crocodile Lounge, Clover Club, and Floyd, and clubs such as Club Velocity, K B 140 Club, Arcoiros Club, Boulevard Tavern, and Caribbean City.
The neighborhood is also a hub for institutions of higher learning, with Long Island University, Brooklyn Law School, St. John's University, Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, Brooklyn Friends School, St. Francis College, St. Joseph’s College, New York College City of Technology, Long Island University, and Packer Collegiate Institute all located within its boundaries. Highlights: Borough Hall, St. James Pro-Cathedral.
Annual festivals include the Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, the New York Burlesque Festival, the Brooklyn Book Festival, the Music, Film & Arts Festival at Brooklyn, and the Bus Festival sponsored by the the MTA Transit Museum.
Transportation includes the A, B, C, D, F, G, M, N, Q, R, 2, 3, 4, and 5 subway lines, as well as the Long Island Rail Road at Atlantic Terminal.
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