"Canarsie" is an adaptation to English phonology of a word in the Lenape language for "fenced land" or "fort". Europeans would often refer to the indigenous people living in an area by the local place-name, and so references may be found in contemporary documents to "Canarsee Indians".
The current neighborhood of Canarsie lies within the former town of Flatlands, one of the five original Dutch towns on Long Island. Canarsie was built on swamps near Jamaica Bay. It was a fishing village through the 1800s, until pollution contaminated the oysters In the 1920s, Southern Italian immigrants along with Jews settled in the area, although the Jewish population in Canarsie in recent years has been steadily shrinking. Ferry service at Canarsie Pier withered away after the building of the Marine Parkway–Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge.
Murphy's Carousel was created in 1912 by the Stein and Goldstein Artistic Carousell Co. of Brooklyn and installed in Golden City Park in Canarsie, on the Brooklyn waterfront, where it operated for 20 years. The New York Times notes: "The horses were carved in Coney Island style, which eschewed the look of docile ponies and prancing fillies and produced much more muscular, ferocious creatures with bared teeth and heads often lifted in motion." In the spring of 1940, when the Belt Parkway was planned in the area, the carousel was moved to Baldwin, on the border abutting Freeport, on Long Island.
"By way of Canarsie" was a mid-twentieth century American Englishfigure of speech meaning "to come to one's destination by a roundabout way or from a distant point." It presumably arose when the Wilson Avenue Line was a principal route to Canarsie Landing. The expression has dropped from modern common parlance.
Divine Bradley, a teen who resided in the Canarsie area of Brooklyn, established Team Revolution for teens. He noticed there was a lack of safe places for the young people in his neighborhood to meet, so he opened a community center in the basement of the family home, before he and the members raised enough money to establish a center with a recording studio and theatre. The center focuses on community service initiatives and activities provided alternatives to risky behaviors, like promiscuous sex, prostitution, violence, gang activity, and drugs. The center offers opportunities for students to practice yoga and meditation, create music at "Hip Hopology" workshops, take trips to the spa, choreograph dances, visit museums, and attend concerts. It had programs such as The Bank, to teach teens about how to improve communities through economic and financial literacy. The Fellowship Academy, partnered with corporations so that its members could learn about business. One of its partners is Polo Ralph Lauren. The L.E.A.D. program, which stands for Leadership Etiquette and Development, teaches young people how to be successful leaders. The student-led organization served 500 youth by 2013.
Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of Canarsie was 83,693, a decrease of 1,365 (1.6%) from the 85,058 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 1,959.94 acres (793.16 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 42.7 inhabitants per acre (27,300/sq mi; 10,600/km2).
During the 1990s, much of Canarsie's white population left for Staten Island, Long Island, Queens, and New Jersey, part of a national phenomenon referred to as "white flight" from the inner city to the suburbs. Today, Canarsie's population is mostly black due to significant West Indian immigration in the area. East Brooklyn Community High School now serves the transfer student population.
At the western end are mostly commercial warehouses and buildings. Canarsie has many one- and two-family homes, although there are two large public housing developments; NYCHA's "Breukelen" houses, and "Bayview" houses, and a number of small apartment buildings scattered throughout the neighborhood.
The neighborhood has many parks, including a large one (over 100 acres (40 ha)) commonly referred to as Seaview Park, but officially named Canarsie Beach Park, which expanded to the southwest in 2007.
Canarsie is home to three high-school campuses, Canarsie Educational Campus, South Shore Educational Campus, and the newer East Brooklyn Community High School, as well as several junior high schools and elementary schools. In late fall 2006, MayorBloomberg announced that five troubled high schools would close by 2010: Two were Canarsie's South Shore and Canarsie High School. According to a New York City Department of Education spokesperson, the closings were attributed to "dismal graduation rates, consistent low test scores, a poor history of educating, low performing students, and lackluster demand."
The Canarsie Courier, published every Thursday, is the oldest weekly publication in Brooklyn and is still in publication. It was founded by Walter S. Patrick on April 22, 1921. The Courier was then purchased by brothers Bob and Joe Samitz in 1959. After the passing of Joe Samitz, Mary Samitz became co-publisher of the paper with her husband Bob and then became the sole publisher after he died. After his death in 1998, the Samitz family sold the paper to Donna Marra and Sandra Greco. Marra became the sole publisher in 2010. The newspaper's estimated circulation is fewer than 5,000, including paid, mailed subscriptions and subscribers to their website, as well as newsstand and over-the-counter sales. In addition to Canarsie, the Courier is distributed in various communities in southeast Brooklyn, such as Georgetown, East New York, Mill Basin, Bergen Beach, and Spring Creek, among others.
While the Courier focuses on local community news, it also offers readers a variety of features for the discriminating reader, plus local sports, culture news, guest columns, and opinion columns by in-house editors.
^"They Drew A Line". New York Times. March 31, 1985. Retrieved 2013-03-28. Canarsie expanded during the 1950's and became a quasi-suburban homeowner community. Since then, however, more and more of the newcomers have been escaping older Brooklyn areas as they turned into black slums
^Wiederhorn, Jon. "41 Years Ago: KISS Unleash ‘Destroyer’ Album", Loudwire. Accessed April 30, 3017. "'That was his song, so it was tolerated,' Ezrin said. 'But Peter sang the hell out of it and we found Peter’s true heart. Even though he was this street kid from Canarsie, Brooklyn, he was a soft and gentle guy inside. So he was completely believable and the girls fell in love with him.'"
^Black Canarsie: A History, Brooklyn Public Library. Accessed June 23, 2016. "Famed weatherman and television personality Al Roker (b. 1954), the son of Bahamian immigrants, lived part of his childhood in the Bayview Housing complex during this period. Roker would later regale that Canarsie 'epitomized the melting flavor of Brooklyn with the variety of nationalities who lived there all bonded by their lower middle-class status.'"
^"A Biohazard seethes in Brooklyn.", NYPress.com, April 15, 2003, updated February 16, 2015. Accessed April 30, 2017. "At 18, says Seinfeld, it struck him that he'd attended something like a hundred funerals but not a single wedding. He'd grown accustomed to seeing his friends in Canarsie die by murder, suicide, overdose, car accident."
^McDonald, Joe. "Writer's Spotlight: Joel Sherman", NY Sports Day, January 21, 2005. Accessed April 30, 2017. "After going the first month of the season with veteran writers on the Yankee beat, the Canarsie native took over in early May."
^Barbanel, Josh. "Preparing for Bonus Season", The New York Times, December 10, 2006. Accessed October 10, 2007. "Mr. Sliwa grew up in Canarsie, Brooklyn, and talks about also having lived in Brownsville and near Fordham Road in the South Bronx (though he lived most recently in a rental apartment in Kips Bay)."
^Schwarz, Alan. "Fan Exits Wall Street, and the Rays Profit", The New York Times, October 11, 2008. Accessed June 23, 2016. "Sternberg, the Tampa Bay Rays’ principal owner, finally sat down and leaned his forearms on his team’s dugout roof and finished watching his Rays lose, 2-0, to the Boston Red Sox on Friday night in the first game of the American League Championship Series. He cheered and high-fived and carped like the baseball nut he has been since growing up in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn, rooting for the Los Angeles Dodgers and abhorring the Yankees."