Williamsburg is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, bordering Greenpoint to the north; Bedford–Stuyvesant to the south; Bushwick, East Williamsburg, and Ridgewood, Queens to the east; and Fort Greene and the East River to the west. Part of Brooklyn Community Board 1, the neighborhood is served in the south by the NYPD's 90th Precinct and in the north by the 94th Precinct. On the New York City Council, the western and southern parts of the neighborhood are represented by the 33rd District; and its eastern part by the 34th District. As of the 2010 United States Census, the neighborhood's population is 32,926, an increase of 2.0% from 2000.
Since the late 1990s, Williamsburg has undergone gentrification characterized by hipster culture, a contemporary art scene, and vibrant nightlife. During the early 2000s, the neighborhood became a center for indie rock and electroclash, and has been nicknamed "Little Berlin". Numerous ethnic groups inhabit enclaves within the neighborhood, including Italians, Jews, Hispanics, Poles, Puerto Ricans, and Dominicans.
In 1638, the Dutch West India Company first stole the area's land from the local Native Americans. In 1661, the company chartered the Town of Boswijck, including land that would later become Williamsburg. After the English takeover of New Netherland in 1664, the town's name was anglicized to Bushwick. During colonial times, villagers called the area "Bushwick Shore". This name lasted for about 140 years. Bushwick Shore was cut off from the other villages in Bushwick by Bushwick Creek to the north and by Cripplebush, a region of thick, boggy shrub land which extended from Wallabout Creek to Newtown Creek, to the south and east. Bushwick residents called Bushwick Shore "the Strand".
Farmers and gardeners from the other Bushwick villages sent their goods to Bushwick Shore to be ferried across the East River to New York City for sale via a market at present day Grand Street. Bushwick Shore's favorable location close to New York City led to the creation of several farming developments. In 1802, real estate speculator Richard M. Woodhull acquired 13 acres (53,000 m²) near what would become Metropolitan Avenue, then North 2nd Street. He had Colonel Jonathan Williams, a U.S. Engineer, survey the property, and named it Williamsburgh (with an h at the end) in his honor. Originally a 13-acre (53,000 m2) development within Bushwick Shore, Williamsburg rapidly expanded during the first half of the nineteenth century and eventually seceded from Bushwick and formed its own independent city.
Incorporation of Williamsburgh
Map of the Village of Williamsburgh (1827)
Map of the Town of Williamsburgh (1845)
Williamsburg was incorporated as the Village of Williamsburgh within the Town of Bushwick in 1827. In two years it had a fire company, a post office and a population of over 1,000. The deep drafts along the East River encouraged industrialists, many from Germany, to build shipyards around Williamsburg. Raw material was shipped in, and finished products were sent out of factories straight to the docks. Several sugar barons built processing refineries. Now all are gone except the now-defunct Domino Sugar (formerly Havemeyer & Elder). Other important industries included shipbuilding and brewing.
On April 18, 1835, the Village of Williamsburg annexed a portion of the Town of Bushwick. The Village then consisted of three districts. The first district was commonly called the "South Side"; the second district was called the "North Side", and the third district was called the "New Village". The names "North Side" and "South Side" remain in common usage today, but the name for the Third District has changed often. The New Village became populated by Germans and for a time was known by the sobriquet of "Dutchtown". In 1845, the population of Williamsburgh was 11,500.
Reflecting its increasing urbanization, Williamsburg separated from Bushwick as the Town of Williamsburg in 1840. It became the City of Williamsburg (discarding the "h") in 1852, which was organized into three wards. The old First Ward roughly coincides with the South Side and the Second Ward with the North Side, with the modern boundary at Grand Street. The Third Ward was to the east of these, stretching from Union Avenue east to Bushwick Avenue beyond which is Bushwick (some of which is now called East Williamsburg).
Incorporation into the Eastern District
Brewers Row, North 11th Street
In 1855, the City of Williamsburg, along with the adjoining Town of Bushwick, were annexed into the City of Brooklyn as the so-called Eastern District. The First Ward of Williamsburg became Brooklyn's 13th Ward, the Second Ward Brooklyn's 14th Ward, and the Third Ward Brooklyn's 15th and 16th Wards.
During its period as part of Brooklyn's Eastern District, the area achieved remarkable industrial, cultural, and economic growth, and local businesses thrived. Wealthy New Yorkers such as Cornelius Vanderbilt and railroad magnate Jubilee Jim Fisk built shore-side mansions. Charles Pratt and his family founded the Pratt Institute, the great school of art & architecture, and the Astral Oil Works, which later became part of Standard Oil. Corning Glass Works was founded here before moving upstate to Corning, New York. German immigrant, chemist Charles Pfizer founded Pfizer Pharmaceutical in Williamsburg, and the company maintained an industrial plant in the neighborhood through 2007, although its headquarters were moved to Manhattan in the 1960s.
Brooklyn's Broadway, ending in the ferry to Manhattan, became the area's lifeline. The area proved popular for condiment and household product manufacturers. Factories for Domino Sugar, Esquire Shoe Polish, Dutch Mustard and many others were established in the late 19th and early 20th century. Many of these factory buildings are now being (or already have been) converted to non-industrial uses, primarily residential.
The population was at first heavily German, but many Jews from the Lower East side of Manhattan came to the area after the completion of the Williamsburg Bridge in 1903. Williamsburg was a financial hub rivaling Wall Street for a time, with its two major community banks: the Williamsburgh Savings Bank (chartered 1851, since absorbed by HSBC) and its rival the Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh (chartered 1864, now known as the DIME, has remained independent). The area around the Peter Luger Steak House, established in 1887, in the predominantly German neighborhood under the Williamsburg Bridge, was a major banking hub until the City of Brooklyn united with New York City. One of the early high schools in Brooklyn, the Eastern District High School, opened here in February 1900.
Incorporation into New York City
South Williamsburg streetscape
In 1898, Brooklyn became one of five boroughs within the City of Greater New York, and the Williamsburg neighborhood was opened to closer connections with the rest of the newly consolidated city. Just five years later, the opening of the Williamsburg Bridge in 1903 further opened up the community to thousands of upwardly mobile immigrants and second-generation Americans fleeing the overcrowded slum tenements of Manhattan's Lower East Side. Williamsburg itself soon became the most densely populated neighborhood in New York City, which in turn was the most densely populated city in the United States. The novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn addresses a young girl growing up in the tenements of Williamsburg during this era.
Brooklyn Union Gas in the early 20th century consolidated its coal gas production to Williamsburg at 370 Vandervoort Avenue, closing the Gowanus Canal gasworks. The 1970s energy crisis led the company to build a syngas factory. Late in the century, facilities were built to import liquefied natural gas from overseas. The intersection of Broadway, Flushing Avenue, and Graham Avenue was a cross-roads for many "interurbans", prior to World War I. These light rail trolleys ran from Long Island to Williamsburg.
Refugees from war-torn Europe began to stream into Brooklyn during and after World War II, including the Hasidim whose populations had been devastated in the Holocaust. The area south of Division Avenue became home to a large population of adherents to the Satmar Hasidic sect who came to the area from Hungary and Romania. Hispanics from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic also began to settle in the area. But the population explosion was eventually confronted with a decline of heavy industry, and from the 1960s, Williamsburg saw a marked increase in unemployment, crime, gang activity, and illegal drug use. Those who were able to move out often did, and the area became chiefly known for its crime and other social ills.
On February 3, 1971, at 10:42 p. m., police officer Frank Serpico was shot during a drug bust, during a stakeout at 778 Driggs Avenue. Serpico had been one of the driving forces in the creation of the Knapp Commission, which exposed widespread police corruption. His fellow officers failed to call for assistance, and he was rushed to Greenpoint Hospital only when an elderly neighbor called the police. The incident was later dramatized in the opening scene of the 1973 film Serpico, starring Al Pacino in the title role.
Gentrification and 2005 rezoning
The site of the former Domino Sugar Refinery
which is being redeveloped for residential and commercial use.
The Edge and Northside Piers developments on Kent Avenue, seen here from across the East River in Manhattan, include some of the many high-rise condominium buildings constructed as a result of the 2005 rezoning.
Low rents were a major reason artists first started settling in the area, but that situation has drastically changed since the mid-1990s. Average rents in Williamsburg can range from approximately $1400 for a studio apartment to $1,600–2,400 for a one-bedroom and $2,600–4,000 for a two-bedroom. The price of land in Willamsburg has skyrocketed. The North Side, above Grand Street, which separates the North Side from the South Side, is somewhat more expensive due to its proximity to the New York City Subway (specifically, the L train and G train on the BMT Canarsie Line and IND Crosstown Line, respectively). More recent gentrification and the route of the M train (whose route was modified to go from the downtown BMT Nassau Street Line to the midtown IND Sixth Avenue Line in 2010), however, have prompted increases in rents south of Grand Street as well. Higher rents have driven out many bohemians and hipsters to other neighborhoods farther afield such as Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Cobble Hill, and Red Hook.
On May 11, 2005, the New York City Council passed a large-scale rezoning of the North Side and Greenpoint waterfront. Much of the waterfront district was rezoned to accommodate mixed-use high density residential buildings with a set-aside (but no earmarked funding) for public waterfront park space, with strict building guidelines calling for developers to create a continuous two-mile-long string of waterfront esplanades. Local elected officials touted the rezoning as an economically beneficial way to address the decline of manufacturing along the North Brooklyn waterfront, which had resulted in a number of vacant and derelict warehouses in Williamsburg.
The re-zoning represented a dramatic shift of scale in the ongoing process of gentrification in the area since the early 1990s. The waterfront neighborhoods, once characterized by active manufacturing and other light industry interspersed with smaller residential buildings, were re-zoned primarily for residential use. Alongside the construction of new residential buildings, many warehouses were converted into residential loft buildings. Among the first was the Smith-Gray Building, a turn-of-the-century structure recognizable by its blue cast-iron facade. The conversion of the former Gretsch music instrument factory garnered significant attention and controversy in the New York press primarily because it heralded the arrival in Williamsburg of Tribeca-style lofts and attracted, as residents and investors, a number of celebrities.
Officials championing the rezoning cited its economic benefits, the new waterfront promenades, and its inclusionary housing component – which offered developers large tax breaks in exchange for promises to rent about a third of the new housing units at "affordable" rates. Critics countered that similar set-asides for affordable housing have gone unfulfilled in previous large-scale developments, such as Battery Park City. The New York Times reported this proved to be the case in Williamsburg as well, as developers largely decided to forgo incentives to build affordable housing in inland areas.
The Kings County Savings Institution was chartered on April 10, 1860. It conducted business in a building called Washington Hall until it purchased the lot on the corner of Bedford Avenue and Broadway. There, it erected its permanent home, now known as the Kings County Savings Bank building. It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980 and was the seventh building to be landmarked in New York City in 1966. "The Kings County Savings Bank is an outstanding example of French Second Empire architecture, displaying a wealth of ornament and diverse architectural elements. A business building of imposing grandeur, the Kings County Savings Bank "represents a period of conspicuous display in which it was not considered vulgar, at least by the people in power, to boast openly of one's wealth. From its scale and general character there is nothing, on the outside, that would distinguish the Kings County Savings Bank from a millionaires mansion.
The Williamsburg Houses were designated a landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission on June 24, 2003. The 23.3-acre (94,000 m2) site was the first large-scale public housing in Brooklyn.
The modern architecture buildings were designed by William Lescaze, whose PSFS Building in Philadelphia was the first successful International Style building in the U.S. The project, first proposed in 1934, was a collaborative between the U.S. Public Works Administration and the newly established New York City Housing Authority. More than 25,000 New Yorkers applied for 1,622 apartments and most units were occupied by 1938. The twenty 4-story buildings are angled 15 degrees to the street grid for optimal sunlight. The structures have tan brick and exposed concrete accented by blue tile and stainless steel. The buildings were restored in the 1990s by the Housing Authority, in consultation with the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
In 2007, three buildings of the Domino Sugar Refinery were also designated New York City Landmarks. The original refinery was built in 1856, and by 1870, it processed more than half of the sugar used in the United States. A fire in 1882 caused the plant to be completely rebuilt in brick and stone, and those buildings remain, albeit with alterations made over the years. The refinery stopped operating in 2004. In 2010, a developer's plan to convert the site to residential use has received support in the New York City Council. A new plan has since been approved for the Domino Sugar Factory, led by Two Trees Management. The plan replaces a city-approved 2010 plan with a new proposal that adds 60% more publicly accessible open space on a new street grid; provides for a 24/7 mix of creative office space, market-rate and affordable housing, neighborhood retail, and community facilities; and is an innovative form of open architecture that connects the existing neighborhood to the new 0.25 mi (400 m) waterfront.
Culture, neighborhoods and lifestyles
The subdivisions within Williamsburg vary widely. "South Williamsburg" refers to the area which today is occupied mainly by the Yiddish-speaking Hasidim (predominantly Satmar Hasidim) and a considerable Puerto Ricans population. North of this area (with Division Street or Broadway serving as a dividing line) is an area known as "Los Sures", occupied by Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. To the north of that is the "North Side," traditionally Polish and Italian. East Williamsburg is home to many industrial spaces and forms the largely Italian American, African American, and Hispanic area between Williamsburg and Bushwick. South Williamsburg, the South Side, the North Side, Greenpoint and East Williamsburg all form Brooklyn Community Board 1. Its proximity to Manhattan has made it popular with recently arrived residents who are often referred to under the blanket term "hipster". Bedford Avenue and its subway station, as the first stop in the neighborhood on the BMT Canarsie Line (on the L train), have become synonymous with this new wave of residents.
Williamsburg is inhabited by tens of thousands of Hasidic Jews of various groups, and contains the headquarters of one faction of the Satmar Hasidic group. Williamsburg's Satmar population numbers about 73,000.
Hasidic Jews first moved to the neighborhood in the years prior to World War II, along with many other religious and non-religious Jews who sought to escape the difficult living conditions on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Beginning in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the area received a large concentration of Holocaust survivors, many of whom were Hasidic Jews from rural areas of Hungary and Romania. These people were led by several Hasidic leaders, among them the rebbes of Satmar, Klausenberg, Vien, Pupa, Tzehlem, and Skver. In addition, Williamsburg contained sizable numbers of religious, but non-Hasidic Jews. The Rebbe of Satmar, Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, ultimately exerted the most powerful influence over the community, causing many of the non-Satmars, especially the non-Hasidim, to leave. Teitelbaum was known for his fierce anti-Zionism and for his charismatic style of leadership.
In the late 1990s, Jewish developers renovated old warehouses and factories, turning them into housing. More than 500 apartments were approved in the three-year period following 1997; soon afterward, an area near Williamsburg's border with Bedford–Stuyvesant was rezoned for affordable housing. By 1997, there were about 7,000 Hasidic families in Williamsburg, almost a third of whom took public assistance. The Hasidic community of Williamsburg has one of the highest birthrates in the country, with an average of eight children per family. Each year, the community celebrates between 800 and 900 weddings for young couples, who typically marry between the ages of 18 and 21. Because Hasidic men receive little secular education, and women tend to be homemakers, college degrees are rare, and economic opportunities lag far behind the rest of the population. In response to the almost 60% poverty rate in Jewish Williamsburg, the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, a beneficiary agency of the UJA-Federation of New York, partnered with Masbia in the opening of a 50-seat kosher soup kitchen on Lee Avenue in November 2009.
There are many households with Section 8 housing vouchers; in 2000, there were 1,394 voucher recipients in Williamsburg's nine Yiddish-speaking census tracts, but by 2014, Williamsburg had 3,296 voucher recipients within 12 Yiddish-speaking census tracts. In 2014, it was reported that Williamsburg's Jewish community had among the highest rates of applications for Section 8 housing vouchers. However, the newspaper New York Daily News doubted the legality of the applications. In 2016, the Daily News said that New York City census tracts with 30% or more of the population applying for Section 8 were present only in Williamsburg and scattered parts of the Bronx, except that Williamsburg's real estate was among the most rapidly gentrifying in the city.
With the gentrification of North Williamsburg, Hasidim have fought to retain the character of their neighborhood and have characterized the influx of what they call the artisten as a "plague" and "a bitter decree from Heaven". Tensions have risen over housing costs, loud and boisterous nightlife events, and the introduction of bike lanes along Bedford Avenue.
Italian-American community and Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Feast
A significant component of the Italian community on the North Side were immigrants from the city of Nola near Naples. Residents of Nola every summer celebrate the "Festa dei Gigli" (feast of lilies) in honor of St. Paulinus of Nola, who was bishop of Nola in the fifth century, and the immigrants brought this tradition over with them. For two weeks every summer, the streets surrounding Our Lady of Mount Carmel church, located on Havemeyer and North 8th Streets, are dedicated to a celebration of Italian culture.
The highlights of the feast are the "Giglio Sundays" when a 100-foot (30 m) tall statue, complete with band and a singer, is carried around the streets in honor of St. Paulinus and Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Clips of this awe-inspiring sight are often featured on NYC news broadcasts. A significant number of Italian-Americans still reside in the area, although the numbers have decreased over the years. Despite the fact that an increasing number of Italian-Americans have moved away, many return each summer for the feast. The Giglio was the subject of a documentary, Heaven Touches Brooklyn in July, narrated by actors John Turturro and Michael Badalucco.
Puerto Rican and Dominican community
On Williamburg's Southside, also known in Spanish as "Los Sures", which is the area south of Grand Street, there exists a sizable Puerto Ricans and Dominican population. Puerto Ricans have been coming to the area since the 1940s and the 1950s, and Dominicans came in the '70s and '80s. Many Puerto Ricans flocked to the area after World War II due to the proximity to jobs at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The neighborhood continues to have 27% Hispanic or Latino population, and Graham Avenue between Grand Street and Broadway is known as the "Avenue of Puerto Rico". Havemeyer Street is lined with Hispanic-owned 'bodegas' and barber shops. However, even though the Southside has the highest concentration of Hispanics in the neighborhood, this population is dispersed throughout all of Williamsburg even as north as the Williamsburg-Greenpoint border.
The culture of Latinos in the neighborhood has been described as a resilient one. The Caribbean Social Club, the last remaining Puerto Rican social club in Williamsburg, preserves the neighborhood's culture; in 2013, the club was subject of a documentary called "Toñita's", named after its owner. The Hispanic sector as a whole was represented in another documentary called Living Los Sures, which aired at MoMA PS1 and at the Metrograph theater; the movie documents the lives of Latino residents living in 1984 Southside before gentrification.
Another such institution is the "El Puente" Community Center, as well as the "San German" record store on Graham Avenue. Graham Avenue was renamed Avenue of Puerto Rico as a symbol of pride, just as the avenue's other alternate name, Via Vespucci, is meant to commemorate the historical Italian-American community. Banco Popular de Puerto Rico has a branch on Graham Avenue. In addition, Southside United HDFC is a charity organization that helps residents with housing needs and other services, including mobilizing housing activists and residents as well as providing affordable housing. In addition to this, in the past Southside United HDFC has held Puerto Rican Heritage as well as Dominican Independence Day celebrations, and currently operates El Museo De Los Sures. The name El Museo De Los Sures roughly translates to "The Museum of the Southside". Williamsburg is also home to not one, but two campuses of Boricua College, the Northside campus on North 6th Street between Bedford Avenue and Driggs Avenue, as well as the East Williamburg/Bushwick campus on Graham Avenue. A place popular among Dominican-American residents is the Fula Lounge, where Merengue and Raggaeton artists from the Dominican Republic often frequent.
Lastly, once a year the Williamsburg/Bushwick community is home to its own Puerto Rican Day parade. The neighborhood has produced many prominent Latinos. Television chef Daisy Martinez, who specializes in Puerto Rican cuisine grew up in the neighborhood. The neighborhood also is home to the office of Congressional Representative Nydia Velazquez, who represents the neighborhood as well as other parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan in congress. In addition to this, Williamsburg was the childhood home of City Councilwoman Rosie Méndez, of Puerto Rican descent, who represents District 2 across the East River in Manhattan. As of 2013, Williamsburg itself is represented in City Council by Dominican American Antonio Reynoso.
Ethnic and intercultural tensions
About 2 o'clock on November 7, 1854, a riot occurred between sheriffs and "some Irishmen" at the poll of the First District at the corner of 2nd and North 6th streets in Williamsburg. It began after a deputy approached a citizen and a fight started. Immediately eight or ten deputies began freely using clubs on a group of "about one hundred Irishmen," resulting in a half-hour general fight and many injuries.
Prior to gentrification, Williamsburg often saw tension between its Hasidic population and its black and Hispanic groups. In response to decades of rising crime in the area, the Hasidim created a volunteer patrol organization called "Shomrim" ("guardians" in Hebrew) to perform citizens' arrests and to keep an eye out for crime. Over the years, the Shomrim have been accused of racism and brutality against blacks and Hispanics. In 2009, Yakov Horowitz, a member of Shomrim, was charged with assault for striking a Latino adolescent on the nose with his Walkie Talkie. In 2014, five members of the Hasidic community, at least two of whom were Shomrim members, were arrested in connection with the December 2013 "gang assault" of a black gay man.
The mid-century tension between the Hasidic and Modern Orthodox Jewish communities in Williamsburg was depicted in Chaim Potok's novels The Chosen (1967), The Promise, and My Name Is Asher Lev. One contemporary female perspective on life in the Satmar community in Williamsburg is offered by Deborah Feldman's autobiographical Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots.
The first artists moved to Williamsburg in the 1970s, drawn by the low rents, large floor area, and convenient transportation. This continued through the 1980s and increased significantly in the 1990s as earlier destinations such as SoHo and the East Village became gentrified. The community was small at first, but by 1996 Williamsburg had accumulated an artist population of about 3,000. Art galleries in the area include the Front Room Gallery. Williamsburg and Greenpoint are served by a monthly galleries listings magazine, wagmag.
In September 2000, 11211 Magazine, created by writer Breuk Iversen, launched a four color glossy circulating 10,000 copies in Brooklyn and Manhattan, intent on promoting the area from a design firm in Manhattan. A year later, the firm moved to Williamsburg. The content was richly focused on the historical and notable properties, arts and culture and real estate development of the 11211 ZIP code. The bi-monthly was funded by advertisements from local businesses and founded by writer and designer, Breuk Iversen. Other publications attributed to 11211 Magazine: Fortnight, The Box Map (2002), Appetite, and 10003 Magazine for the East Village in New York City. The magazine had published 36 issues (548,000 copies) of 11211 over a six-year period, and ceased circulation in 2006.
A local bowling center also presents musical performances
Williamsburg has become a notable home for live music and an incubator for new bands. Beginning in the late 1980s, and through the late 1990s, a number of unlicensed performance, theater, and music venues operated in abandoned industrial buildings and other spaces in the streets. A new culture has evolved in the area surrounding Bedford Avenue subway station. The Bog, Keep Refrigerated, The Lizard's Tail, Quiet Life, Rubulad, Flux Factory, Mighty Robot, free103point9 and others attracted a mix of artists, musicians and urban underground for late night music, dance, and performance events, which were occasionally interrupted and the venues temporarily closed by the fire department. These events eventually diminished in number as the rents rose in the area and regulations were enforced.
There are a number of smaller, fleeting spaces, including Todd P., Dot Dash, Twisted Ones, and Rubulad. Many legitimate commercial music venues opened in the neighborhood including Pete's Candy Store, Union Pool, Music Hall of Williamsburg (formerly Northsix), Public Assembly (formerly Galapagos, now closed), Cameo Gallery, Muchmore's, and Grand Victory. Several Manhattan-based venues also opened locations, including Bowery Presents (who bought Northsix and transformed it to Music Hall of Williamsburg), Luna Lounge, Knitting Factory, and Cake Shop. In the summers of 2006, 2007, and 2008, events including concerts, movies, and dance performances were staged at the previously abandoned pool at McCarren Park in Greenpoint. Starting 2009, these pool parties are now held at the Williamsburg waterfront.
The neighborhood has also attracted a respectable funk, soul and worldbeat music scene spearheaded by labels such as Daptone and Truth & Soul Records – and fronted by acts such as the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings. Jazz and World Music has found a foothold, with classic jazz full-time at restaurant venues like Zebulon and Moto, and – on the more avant and noise side – at spots like the Lucky Cat, B.P.M., Monkeytown (closed in 2010), and Eat Records. A Latin Jazz community continues amongst the Caribbean community in Southside and East Williamsburg, centered around the many social clubs in the neighborhood. In the early 2000s, the neighborhood also became a center of electroclash. Friday and Saturday parties at Club Luxx (now Trash) introduced electronic musicians like W.I.T., A.R.E. Weapons, Fischerspooner, and Scissor Sisters.
Theatre and cinema
Williamsburg contains indie theater spaces such as the Brick Theater and the Charlie Pineapple Theater. The Williamsburg Independent Film Festival was founded in 2010. Williamsburg also contains the first-run multiplex theater known as Williamsburg Cinemas, which opened on December 19, 2012.
Effects of gentrification
Low rents were a major reason artists first started settling in the area, but that situation has drastically changed since the mid-1990s. Average rents in Williamsburg can range from approximately $1,400 for a studio apartment to $1,600–2,400 for a one-bedroom and $2,600–4,000 for a two-bedroom. The price of land in Williamsburg has skyrocketed. The North Side, above Grand Street, which separates the North Side from the South Side, is somewhat more expensive due to its proximity to the New York City Subway (specifically, the L train and G train on the BMT Canarsie Line and IND Crosstown Line, respectively).
More recent gentrification and the route of the M train (whose route was modified to go from the downtown BMT Nassau Street Line to the midtown IND Sixth Avenue Line in 2010), however, have prompted increases in rent prices south of Grand Street as well. Higher rents have driven many priced-out bohemians and hipsters to find new creative communities further afield in areas like Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Cobble Hill, and Red Hook.
On July 1, 2011, the United States Postal Service (USPS) rezoned the 11211 zip code due to a "large increase in population and in the number of companies doing business in our area."
Williamsburg's recent gentrification is the subject of Princeton University film professor Su Friedrich's 2013 documentary Gut Renovation.
Effect on borough's court system
In June 2014, the New York Post reported that northwestern Brooklyn's change to a wealthier, more educated population, especially in Williamsburg, has led to an increasing number of convictions against defendants in the borough's criminal cases, as well as to reductions in plaintiff's awards in civil cases. Brooklyn defense lawyer Julie Clark said that these new jurors are "much more trusting of police". Another lawyer, Arthur Aidala said:
"Now, the grand juries have more law-and-order types in there. ... People who can afford to live in Brooklyn now don't have the experience of police officers throwing them against cars and searching them. A person who just moves here from Wisconsin or Wyoming, they can't relate to [that]. It doesn't sound credible to them."
Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of Williamsburg was 32,926, an increase of 657 (2.0%) from the 32,269 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 266.08 acres (107.68 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 123.7 inhabitants per acre (79,200/sq mi; 30,600/km2).
The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 86.2% (28,366) White, 2.4% (793) African American, 0.1% (29) Native American, 0.1% (48) Asian, 0.0% (2) Pacific Islander, 0.2% (77) from other races, and 0.5% (152) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.5% (3,459) of the population.
Williamsburg is served by 3 subway lines: the BMT Canarsie Line (L train) on the north, the BMT Jamaica Line (J, M, and Z trains) on the south, and the IND Crosstown Line (G train) on the east. The Williamsburg Bridge crosses the East River to the Lower East Side. Williamsburg is also served by the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway. Several bus routes, including the B24, B32, B39, B44, B44 SBS, B46, B60, Q54 terminate at the Williamsburg Bridge/Washington Plaza. Other bus lines that run through the neighborhood are the B43, B48, B62, B67, Q59.
In June 2011, NY Waterway started service to points along the East River. On May 1, 2017, that route became part of the NYC Ferry's East River route, which runs between Pier 11/Wall Street in Manhattan's Financial District and the East 34th Street Ferry Landing in Murray Hill, Manhattan, with five intermediate stops in Brooklyn and Queens. Two of the East River Ferry's stops are in Williamsburg.
PS 18, at Leonard and Maujer Streets
The New York City Department of Education operates public noncharter schools. It is covered by District 14. This district includes:
- Brooklyn Latin School
- PS 16 Leonard Dunkly
- PS 17 Henry D. Woodworth
- PS 132
- IS 318 Eugenio Maria De Hostos
- PS 250 George H. Lindsay (The Williamsburg Magnet School For Communication and Multimedia Arts)
- PS 132 Conselyea School
- Grand Street Campus (formerly Eastern District High School) containing:
- The Harry Van Arsdale Educational Complex houses three small high schools that offer academicsan, and a curriculum and faculty for their special needs populations.
- The Young Women's Leadership School of Brooklyn aims to instill qualities of leadership in girls.
- PS 84 Jose De Diego, a Spanish-English program
- PS 110 The Monitor school, offering French-English
- Juan Morel Campos Secondary School, with Yiddish-English
Other schools include:
National Grid (formerly KeySpan) is currently remediating contamination at a former Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) site located at Kent Avenue between North 11th and North 12th Streets in Williamsburg Brooklyn, Kings County, NY. The Remediation is being implemented under an Order on Consent with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) entered into between the NYSDEC and KeySpan in February 2007. 
El Puente, a local community development group, called Williamsburg "the most toxic place to live in America" in the documentary Toxic Brooklyn produced by Vice Magazine in 2009. Other rare cancer clusters in Willamsburg have been reported by the New York Post.
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. (May 2014)
- Persis Foster Eames Albee (1836-1914) – first "Avon Lady"; moved out in 1866
- Red Auerbach (1917-2006) – former guard, NBA coach and General manager who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
- Joy Behar (born 1942) – comedian and co-host of The View (born in Williamsburg)
- Mel Brooks (born 1926) – comedian (born in Williamsburg).
- Cathy Bissoon (born 1968) – United States District Court judge for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
- Steve Burns (born 1973) – former Blue's Clues host, actor, musician.
- Alexa Chung (born 1983) – English model and television presenter
- Peter Criss (born 1945) – of Kiss (childhood friend of Jerry Nolan, also a resident of Williamsburg) (born in Williamsburg).
- Raven Dennis (born 1967) - baker and popularizer of the red velvet cake
- Dane DeHaan (born 1986) – actor, In Treatment, The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
- Alan Dershowitz (born 1938) – lawyer, jurist and political commentator.
- Peter Dinklage (born 1969) – actor
- Ed Droste (born 1978) – lead singer for the indie rock band, Grizzly Bear.
- Sean Durkin (born 1981) – film director.
- Nicolas Entel (born 1975) – film director, Sins of My Father.
- Jade Esteban Estrada (born 1975) – humorist.
- Will Eisner – comic artist for whom the Eisner Award is named, born and raised in Williamsburg.
- Russell C. Falconer (1851-1936) – Wisconsin state senator (born in Williamsburg).
- Su Friedrich (born 1954) - filmmaker and Princeton University film professor
- Peaches Geldof – British model and socialite (deceased)
- The Gregory Brothers – music group notable for Internet series, "Auto Tune the News"
- Randy Harrison (born 1977) – TV (Queer as Folk) and theatre actor
- Eve Hewson (born 1991), actress who appeared in the film This Must Be the Place and played Nurse Lucy Elkins in Steven Soderbergh's TV series The Knick.
- Dev Hynes (born 1985) – English musician and producer, also known as Lightspeed Champion or Blood Orange
- David Karp (born 1986) – creator of Tumblr
- Zoë Kravitz (born 1988) – daughter of Lenny Kravitz
- Solly Krieger (1909-1964) – boxer
- James Lafferty (born 1985) – actor, director and producer known for role as Nathan Scott on One Tree Hill
- Leonard Lopate (born 1940) – public radio talk show host.
- Barry Manilow (born 1943) – songwriter and performer
- Bettina May (born 1979) – pin-up model and photographer
- Henry Miller (1891-1980) – novelist
- Keith Murray – singer from the band We Are Scientists
- Jerry Nolan (1946-1992) – of the New York Dolls (born in Williamsburg)
- Lore Noto (1923–2002), Off-Broadway producer
- Donn O'Meara (1924-2004) – author and linguist
- Man Ray – artist
- Buddy Rich (1917-1987) – drummer
- Frankie Rose (born 1979) – musician
- Winona Ryder – actress
- Mikheil Saakashvili - former president of Georgia, exiled in the U.S.
- Semi Precious Weapons, including Justin Tranter – glam rock band and their frontman
- Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel – notable gangster who shaped up the Las Vegas strip (born in Williamsburg)
- Richard Sheirer – director of the New York City Office of Emergency Management (O.E.M.) during the September 11th attacks.
- Gene Simmons – member of band Kiss
- Betty Smith (1896-1972), author best known for her 1943 novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
- Abby Stein (born 1991), transgender activist, writer, and theorist who was born and raised in Williamsburg
- Jerry Stiller (born 1927), comedian and actor
- Barbra Streisand (born 1942), singer-songwriter, author, actress, writer, film producer, and director
- Stuart Subotnick (born 1942), businessman and media magnate, among America's 500 wealthiest people and on The World's Billionaires list
- Joel Teitelbaum (1887-1979), founder and first Grand Rebbe of the Satmar Hasidic dynasty.
- Moses Teitelbaum (1914-2006), Hasidic rebbe and the world leader of the Satmar Hasidim after succeeding his uncle in 1980.
- Alex Turner (born 1986) English musician and member of Arctic Monkeys
- Michael K. Williams (born 1966), film and television actor, notable for his roles in The Wire and Boardwalk Empire
- Anna Wood (born 1985), actress
In popular culture
This section needs additional citations for verification
. (December 2014)
- The first three novels by Daniel Fuchs -- Summer in Williamsburg (1934), Homage to Blenholt (1936), and Low Company (1937), collectively known as "The Williamsburg Trilogy" or "The Brooklyn Novels"—are set primarily in Williamsburg or its immediate vicinity.
- The 1943 novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn takes place in Williamsburg in the 1910s.
- The 1967 book The Chosen by Chaim Potok, is set in 1940s Williamsburg. The book was made into a film in 1981.
Film, television, and theater
- New Jersey emo band Armor for Sleep's third album Smile for Them featured the single "Williamsburg", which mocks the hipsters that call the neighborhood home.
- German rock musician Marius Müller-Westernhagen titled his 2009 album Williamsburg.
- Kany García filmed her music video for her song "Feliz" in Williamsburg.
- The music video for Avril Lavigne's "My Happy Ending" was filmed in Williamsburg in the since-demolished movie theater, The Commodore.
- Dan Melchior wrote a song called "Williamsburg, Brooklyn", featured in his album "Thankyou very much", issued in 2009. Lyrics are especially contemptuous about the neighborhood's new fashion: "All these painters who don't paint any pictures, all these musicians who don't write any songs; let's relocate them to ghettos in the city, the Starbucks will pop out before long.", "Oh you old-time tenant, pack your bags: the rents are gonna rise too high for you".
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- ^ a b Table PL-P3A NTA: Total Population by Mutually Exclusive Race and Hispanic Origin - New York City Neighborhood Tabulation Areas*, 2010, Population Division - New York City Department of City Planning, March 29, 2011. Accessed June 14, 2016.
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- ^ "Councilman Antonio Reynoso vows to stamp out irresponsible development". Commercial Observer. Retrieved 2016-04-12.
- ^ "Riot and Bloodshed in Williams-Burg". The New York Times. New York City, New York. November 8, 1854. p. 4. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
- ^ "Praise and scorn for Hasidic patrols: Some say they target minorities". New York Daily News. July 5, 2011. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
- ^ "HAre Williamsburg's Hasidic 'Police' Racist?". The L Magazine. July 6, 2011. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
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- ^ Wiener, Julie. "Unapologetically ‘Unorthodox’With a memoir about growing up in — and leaving — Satmar Williamsburg, 25-year-old Deborah Feldman is one tough Jewess.", The Jewish Week, February 8, 2012. Accessed May 12, 2016. "That said, Unorthodox is actually a surprisingly moving, well-written, and vivid coming-of-age tale about a restless girl who is raised in Williamsburg by her grandparents because her father is mentally disabled and her mother left the community, effectively abandoning her, when she was a baby."
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- ^ Weber, Bruce (January 19, 2012). "Richard J. Sheirer, Official in Charge of Sept. 11 Rescues, Dies at 65". New York Times. Retrieved February 4, 2012.
- ^ Gardner, Paul. "Betty Smith Recalls How Tree Grew to Success 20 Years Ago", The New York Times, August 17, 1963. Accessed January 19, 2018. "Miss Smith, who is here for a short visit, was born in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, but she does not miss it or the rest of New York."
- ^ Compton, Julie. "OutFront: Trans Woman Spreads LGBTQ Awareness in Hasidic Community", NBC News, January 13, 2017. Accessed November 29, 2017. "In 2012, Abby Stein sat alone in a busy mall — the only place she knew that had Wi-Fi. Bearded with long sidelocks and wearing a dark three-piece suit and black hat that are the traditional garbs of Hasidic men in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, Stein searched the internet on a tablet.... The 25-year-old grew up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a neighborhood with a large enclave of Hasidic people."
- ^ Farrell, Bill. "Homecoming In B'klyn Red Carpet For Native Comic Duo", New York Daily News, June 5, 2000. Accessed January 19, 2018. "As a couple and as individuals, Stiller and Meara have plenty of reasons to be proud. Born in East New York, Stiller was constantly on the move with his family - from East New York to Williamsburg."
- ^ Mitchell, Eric. "An Owner's Profile: Stuart Subotnick", The Blood-Horse, November 12, 2001. Accessed January 19, 2018. "Stuart Subotnick readily admits he knew nothing about Thoroughbreds or racing in the beginning. Horses were as foreign as hayrides to the Brooklyn, N.Y., native who grew up in a federally subsidized housing project in Williamsburg."
- ^ Barron, James. "Sale of a Grand Rabbi's Home Is Upheld", The New York Times, July 3, 1996. Accessed January 19, 2018. "Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, who had led a congregation in Satu-Mare, Romania, before the Holocaust, settled in Williamsburg with a few dozen families after World War II."
- ^ Newman, Andy. "Rabbi Moses Teitelbaum Is Dead at 91", The New York Times, April 25, 2006. Accessed January 19, 2018. "Moses Teitelbaum, the grand rabbi of the Satmar Hasidim, one of the world's largest and fastest-growing sects of Orthodox Jews, died yesterday in Manhattan. He was 91 and lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn."
- ^ Remnick, Noah. "Michael K. Williams Is More Than Omar From The Wire’'; Mr. Williams has made a career of bringing nuance and contrast to his roles, inspired by the swaggering characters he grew up with in East Flatbush.", The New York Times, June 30, 2017. Accessed January 19, 2018. "It was a warm Friday afternoon in June, the 15th anniversary of the premiere of The Wire, and Mr. Williams was back in East Flatbush to celebrate with some friends. Though he lives in Williamsburg now, he goes back every few months to visit Vanderveer, a collection of red-brick buildings that stretches across 30 acres along Foster Avenue in the middle of Brooklyn."
- ^ Levine, Daniel S. "Anna Wood, Dane DeHaan’s Wife: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know", Heavy.com, July 20, 2017. Accessed January 19, 2018. "After two and a half years of living in Los Angeles, DeHaan and Wood decided to move to Williamsburg, Brooklyn for a change of scenery."
- ^ Staff. "Daniel Fuchs, Novelist And Screenwriter, 84", The New York Times, August 11, 1993. Accessed May 29, 2017. "Mr. Fuchs turned to screenwriting after the commercial failure of 'The Williamsburg Trilogy,' his novels in the 1930s about growing up in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. The books -- Summer in Williamsburg, Homage to Blenholt and Low Company -- were critically praised but sold poorly."
- ^ Maeder, Jay. "How Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn became a literary sensation", New York Daily News, August 14, 2017. Accessed January 18, 2018. "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was the tender, courage-awash story of the Nolan family impossible Johnny, the singing waiter who drank up his tips; patient, suffering Katie, the hardworking janitress who kept home and hearth together, and ceaselessly pensive daughter Francie, ever buried in library books and dreaming of clean skies somewhere beyond the grime of Williamsburg."
- ^ Shepard, Richard F. "Bringing Brooklyn Of The 1940'S Back To Life For The Chosen", The New York Times, May 16, 1982. Accessed May 29, 2017. "Putting the period to a period film is a demanding business, an expensive one, too, that becomes even more challenging if the period is one that lies within the memory of living man. The Chosen, at the Beekman and Cinema 3, is a case in point, a movie that recalls a Brooklyn of the late 1940's and does so with such fidelity that the tree-lined quiet streets of Williamsburg and the particular Jewish life on them seem to have emerged intact from a just-opened time capsule."
- ^ Canby, Vincent. "Film: Once Upon A Time In America", The New York Times, June 1, 1984. Accessed January 18, 2018. "The screenplay, by Mr. Leone and five others, cannot be easily synopsized. It begins in the 1920s in a long prologue set in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, the jungle where the five young friends, including Max and Noodles, learn their trade as petty thieves and arsonists."
- ^ Murray, J. J. "Until I Saw Your Smile", p. 16. Kensington Books, 2014. ISBN 9780758277282. Accessed January 18, 2018. "He looked toward the bridge, shaking his head, wondering why Coming to America, supposedly set in Queens, was primarily filmed on South 5th Street in Williamsburg. It made me laugh to see Billyburg in that movie. Eddie Murphy is really trying to find his queen in Williamsburg, not Queens."
- ^ Ugoku. "Sopranos location guide". Retrieved October 17, 2014.
- ^ About 2 Broke Girls, CBS. Accessed June 3, 2016. "2 Broke Girls is a comedy about the unlikely friendship that develops between two very different young women who meet waitressing at a diner in trendy Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and form a bond over one day owning their own successful cupcake business."
- ^ Mendelson, Will. "Hilary Duff talks her new Brooklyn-based show, Younger", AM New York, March 29, 2015. Accessed July 2, 2016. "[Q] That's awesome! How long did you live in Brooklyn for? [A] Almost four months. I lived in Park Slope, and we filmed in Williamsburg."
- ^ Dai, Serena (October 31, 2014). "Netflix's 'Daredevil' Series Covertly Filming in Williamsburg". DNAInfo. Archived from the original on November 1, 2014. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
- ^ LaGorce, Tammy. "Who Says You Can't Leave Home? Armor for Sleep", The New York Times, December 9, 2007. Accessed June 3, 2016. "As listeners will discover if they cue up 'Williamsburg,' a song on the new album that skewers the hipster scene in that Brooklyn neighborhood, the Secaucus stops may reflect more than a desire to be near the ones they love. "
- ^ "Los Sures no miran para atrás; Los hispanos permanecen en el transformado sector de Williamsburg y recuerdan su pasado sin nostalgia", El Diario La Prensa, January 17, 2016. Accessed January 18, 2018. "La cantante Kany García, ganadora del Latin Grammy filmó su video 'Feliz' en Los Sures."