Originally known as Crown Hill by the Lenape Indians that lived there, Crown Heights has evolved into a diverse neighborhood, occupied primarily by Hasidic Jews and one of the largest Caribbean populations to be found anywhere outside of the West Indies.
Head over to Nostrand Avenue, one of the main West Indian commercial areas in the neighborhood, which is lined with stores that have been in those exact same places for generations, providing their goods and services to area residents. Kingston Avenue has similar commercial activities that support the Jewish community, and Franklin Avenue shows the most signs of change and gentrification, with an ever-expanding mix of yoga studios, coffee shops, and organic grocery stores that serve the influx of young professionals. No matter which of these areas you visit, you will find an interesting mix of businesses that you wouldn’t normally picture as existing side-by-side. It is all part of the cultural diversity of Crown Heights.
The neighborhood is bisected, from east to west, by Eastern Parkway, which is a beautiful, 3-mile-long boulevard lined with mature trees. This leafy oasis was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, famed designer of Central Park, the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, and the U. S. Capitol in Washington, D. C.
You will find a mix of low-rise apartment buildings, large middle-class elevator buildings, brownstones, and some luxury buildings. Century-old architecture stands next to modern residential developments in a visually interesting mix of styles, much as the diversity of the residents exists. People who would not normally meet and mix are forging new pathways to cultural understanding by working, living, and playing together in the same neighborhood.