Saturday, August 29, 2009

Jewish Knowledge (11)

Topic: Jewish Tid-Bits Brooklyn #5

The first and perhaps the most striking of the large-scale settlements in Brooklyn was Brownsville. It began when Jaco b Cohen, a prosperous tailor from New York, bought a house in Brown's Village in 1885 because his wife needed the fresh country air. A tiny farm village far beyond Brooklyn's city limits, its residents were stirred from their bucolic quiet when Cohen moved his factory to remote Brown's Village and was followed by many of his workers. Other East Side manufacturers and their employees joined the exodus and soon the farmers were c utting up their land into building lots which were sold to speculators who in turn sold to realtors and builders. The result was a real-estate boom.

Attracted by the low prices of lots and homes and the opportunity for inexpensive country living near their work, Jews began crowding into Brownsville. The opening of the Williamsburg Bridge was the signal for a tremendous rush of Jews to the then remote neighborhood. As the multitude of newly-arrived European Jews flocked over the bridge from the East Side of Manhattan to Williamsburg, thousands moved from that section to Brownsville, Immigrants also joined the exodus to Brownsville so that by 1914 that area had over 100,000 Jews and a vast complex of synagogues, Talmud Torahs, cultural agencies, labor unions and other communal institutions. In 1935, Brownsville's Jewish community had grown to 200,000; another 75,000 Jews were crowded into nearby East New York.

Bensonhurst, Borough Park, Coney Island and Flatbush began displacing Brownsville and East New York as the hub of Brooklyn's Jewish population in the late 1930s and early 1940s. In the next decade the growth of Brooklyn Jewry came to a halt for the first time in half a century, as the tide of Jewish settlement shifted to the borough of Queens and the suburban counties of Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester.

to be continued:


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