Flatbush is a community of the Borough of Brooklyn, a part of New York City, consisting of several neighborhoods.
The name Flatbush is an Anglicization of the Dutch language Vlacke bos (vlacke = vlak = flat; "flat woodland" or "wooded plain").
The Flatbush Post Office is assigned postal zone 11226, but the area understood as included in Flatbush extends into other postal zones.
The Flatbush community has been receiving an influx of immigrants from the Caribbean (West Indies), mostly from Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Grenada, Guyana, Barbados, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Belize, since the 1980s, as well as immigrants from India and African countries like Ghana, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and Kenya. Haitians are the largest ethnic group in Flatbush. Prior to the arrival of these groups, the Flatbush community had already been diverse, with many Italians, African-Americans and Jews. Flatbush is patrolled by the NYPD's 67th and 70th Precincts.
Flatbush was originally chartered as the Dutch Nieuw Nederland colony town of Midwout in 1651. Both names were used in the Dutch era, and Midwood was an alternative name for Flatbush into the early 20th century. Midwood now describes the area immediately south of Brooklyn College. Midwood's residents predominately feature a mix of Orthodox Jews and Irish Americans.
Flatbush and the five other towns of what was to become Kings County were surrendered to the English in 1664. The influence of Dutch merchant and farming families remained strong in the area until after consolidation into the City of Greater New York in 1898, after which the development of Flatbush as a suburb, and then an integral part of the larger city, proceeded apace.
Before it was incorporated into the City of Brooklyn in 1894, Flatbush described both the Town of Flatbush, incorporating a large swath of central Kings County extending east to the Queens County border, and the Village of Flatbush, formerly the heart of the current community. Many of the remaining early Dutch structures are in the Flatlands and Marine Park neighborhoods.
In the first half of the 20th century, Flatbush had a sizable population of Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans and Jews. Much as it is today, it was a working class neighborhood. A vast portion of Flatbush residents closely followed the Brooklyn Dodgers, which at the time were not only the team of Brooklyn but also of Flatbush in particular. Duke Snider was known as “the Duke of Flatbush”. However, by 1958 the Dodgers left Brooklyn, and Ebbets Field was eventually torn down. Due to shifting neighborhood boundaries, Ebbets Field today would technically be in Crown Heights, as the ballpark was located just north of Empire Boulevard.
During the 1970s and early 1980s, Flatbush experienced a shift in demographics as it went from being a mostly White, Irish, Italian and Jewish community to a mostly Black, West Indian community. While most sections of Flatbush were working class before the demographic shift, there were a few affluent areas. Prospect Park South had a sizable number of more affluent homeowners, and more than a few doctors resided on a stretch of Parkside Avenue immediately adjacent to Prospect Park. However by the mid-1980s, there were a number of abandoned or semi-abandoned buildings in the community, with a number of apartment houses falling into a state of disrepair. Many of the affluent residents left Flatbush and were replaced by lower income residents. While crime had generally always been a problem in the community (e.g., a number of stores on Flatbush and Church Avenues were looted during the 1977 blackout), a drug epidemic ravaged Flatbush during the 1980s and early 1990s. The area around the Parade Grounds was particularly notorious for drug turf wars and shootouts. Street gangs were also prevalent in Flatbush. Columbia Pictures shot some of the 1974 film The Lords of Flatbush here, and CBS aired a short-lived sitcom named Flatbush in 1979, based somewhat on The Lords of Flatbush, but set in contemporary times.
While Flatbush today is predominantly African American and West Indian, there are sizable numbers of Caucasians, Latinos and Arabs living within its borders. While a majority of residents are working class, there are also middle-class and wealthier residents who call Flatbush home. The primary commercial strips are Flatbush, Church and Nostrand Avenues, with Coney Island Avenue also emerging as a major strip. One can find Caribbean, Soul food, Chinese, Mexican and South Asian restaurants. Most of the businesses are small ones, with some larger businesses also present, such as Old Navy, Rite-Aid, Stop & Shop, Staples, GameStop, and Target.
Flatbush housing varies in character. It generally features apartment buildings, though some rowhouses are also present. Victorian-style (albeit older) housing can be found in Prospect Park South, and brownstones in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens.
Flatbush includes the southernmost portion of Prospect Park.
The neighborhoods of Flatbush extend south from the old Brooklyn City Line north of the southern edges of Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Empire Boulevard. The southern border of Flatbush neighborhoods is approximately on the line of the Long Island Rail Road's Bay Ridge Line, which runs to the south of Avenue H, the campus of Brooklyn College, and "The Junction" where Flatbush and Nostrand Avenues intersect. "The Junction" is also the location of Brooklyn College–Flatbush Avenue station, the southern terminal of the IRT Nostrand Avenue Line of the New York City Subway and the Junction Mall. Flatbush's eastern border is roughly around New York Avenue , while its western border is Coney Island Avenue.
Neighborhoods within Flatbush include the planned communities of Prospect Park South, Beverley Square West, Beverley Square East, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Ditmas Park, Fiske Terrace and Albemarle-Kenmare Terrace. Bordering Flatbush on the north are the community of Crown Heights and the former neighborhood of Pigtown. On the east, within the old town of Flatbush, is East Flatbush, on the west are Kensington and Parkville (formerly Greenfield), and on the south is Midwood. Many consider Midwood to be a part of Flatbush, but historically it was part of the neighboring former towns of New Utrecht, Gravesend and Flatlands.