Conveniently situated just north of the beautiful and lush Prospect Park, Fort Greene is rich with history. Representative of an aesthetic that Brooklyn is often associated with--the brownstone and row house architecture being an institution of the community--Fort Greene is decidedly singular in visual style. As part of the National Register of Historic Places, this South Brooklyn neighborhood offers unique charm and plenty of character.
Beginning with its early military-oriented inception (the territory was central to the Battle of Long Island), Fort Greene has always been recognized for its spaciousness and a sense of openness. Filled with nature and greenery, it is also home to its very own eponymously named park in addition to being in close proximity to Brooklyn’s largest recreational area, Prospect Park (containing the beloved Prospect Park Zoo within it).
Many residents come from different socioeconomic backgrounds and commute to their workplaces in Manhattan, while keeping Fort Greene as their separate haven. The diversity of the area has proven to be one of the few examples of a Brooklyn neighborhood maintaining its roots in part thanks to its protected status.
Brooklyn Academy of Music. Among many cultural institutions, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) is one of the most innovatively designed art hubs in New York. BAM’s construction in the early twentieth century was extremely significant to the neighborhood and its direction toward becoming a sought after destination. Offering live performances as well as film showings, BAM remains a powerhouse in Fort Greene’s arsenal (no military pun intended).
Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument and crypt, located within Fort Greene Park, is home to the remains of roughly 12,000 Revolutionary soldiers (and civilians) that were cast out of British prison boats and later washed to the shore.
Fort Greene Park, thirty acres of land designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux (better known for their work on Central Park) that local resident Walt Whitman was a strong advocate for repurposing as a park when its military value was no longer of practical use.
Barclay’s Center, Just at the edge of the neighborhood, Barclay’s Center is home to the Brooklyn Nets and New York Islanders, and also offers plenty of opportunity for locals to see their favorite musicians perform live.
A sign of development in the area, the Apple Store and Whole Foods Market are also right near BAM. In terms of additional entertainment options, locals also find it easy to walk or hop the train a couple stops to the recently opened Alamo Drafthouse movie theater, within the City Point Shopping Center.
What You Might See
Tree-lined streets galore. Paired with the standout hybrid of Eastlake and Italianate (both styles common in the mid-nineteenth century) architecture, the look of Fort Greene is undeniably one-of-a-kind with its low-rise brownstones and signature row houses.
Plenty of original constructions and architecture, particularly on streets like Adelphi, Cumberland, Portland and Oxford (each named after streets of London’s Westminster district).
Enjoy some of the most prime examples of Brooklyn’s varied cuisine options--from sit-down pizza eateries Speedy Romeo and Emily to renowned Cuban joint Habana Outpost. There’s no shortage of options for satisfying whatever the taste buds desire!
A notable student community in the area thanks to nearby Pratt Institute in Clinton Hill, as well as local high schools like Brooklyn Technical High School.
What's In The Future
Mostly more of the same, with new development along the border of the neighborhood near Barclay’s Center. High-rise construction along the divide where Downtown Brooklyn begins has seen new buildings crop up, particularly on the Flatbush Avenue side.
Though Fort Greene continues to attract new residents, from an expansion standpoint, it isn’t as rife for building and additions as other parts of South Brooklyn--especially because of its historical significance.
What You Might Not Know
The neighborhood is named in honor of a star-shaped fort that mounted a total of six cannons built during the American Revolution under the supervision of General Nathanael Greene. The first park in Brooklyn, originally called Washington Park before being renamed to Fort Greene Park, is also named after General Greene and his historical importance to the area.
Fort Greene has upheld its visual and demographical integrity through many decades of change. At the height of the crack epidemic in the 1980s, Spike Lee specifically chose to open his film production company, 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, as a means to help revitalize the neighborhood, one that he has so lovingly featured in his work over the years.
The literary background of Fort Greene is also of particular note. Walt Whitman, who held much influence over the neighborhood as an editor at the Brooklyn Eagle, would end up completing one of his major works of poetry, Leaves of Grass, at the Italianate row house located at 99 Ryerson Street. What’s more, Richard Wright wrote Native Son while living on Carlton Avenue and poet Marianne Moore resided at 260 Cumberland Street for thirty-seven years.
What We Love
The hyper-local, community-oriented vibe of the area. Fort Greene truly is a peaceful oasis in a city that loves to get loud. And then, of course, there are the breathtaking nearby parks to retreat to for recreation and relaxation.
But when in the mood to become a part of the noise, it’s incredibly easy to get to other parts of Brooklyn, Manhattan and beyond. Super close to Atlantic Terminal and sports arena/music venue Barclay’s Center, access to the LIRR/2/3/4/5/B/D/Q/R is a stone’s throw from any doorstep.