Sunday, March 15, 2009Bedford-Stuyvesant is the amalgam of two middle-class communities of the old City of Brooklyn: Bedford, the western portion, and Stuyvesant Heights, to the east. Today's Bedford Stuyvesant is one of the city's two major black enclaves; the other is its peer, Harlem. Often called Bed-Stuy it differs from its Manhattan counterpart in its much larger percentage of home owners, although Harlem is rapidly following its lead in gentrifying its own blocks. The southern and western portions comprise masonry row housing of distinguished architectural quality and vigorous churches whose spires contribute to the area's frequently lacy skyline. At one time the northeastern reaches have considerable numbers of wooden tenements, containing some of the nation's worst slums now have new buildings rising everyday. But on the whole, Bed-Stuy has a reputation that doesn't fit with reality: a stable community with hundreds of blocks of well-kept town houses.Where Bedford-Stuyvesant has distinguished architecture, it is very good. Its facades of brownstones and brickfronts create a magnificent town scape as good as-and sometimes better than-many fashionable areas of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Parts of Chauncey, Decatur, MacDonough, Jefferson, Halsey and Macon Streets, and the southern end of Stuyvesant Avenue, are superb. Hancock Street, between Nostrand and Tompkins Avenues, was considered a showplace in its time (why not now too?). Alice and Agate Courts, short cul-de-sacs isolated from the macrocosm of the street system, are particularly special places in the seemingly endless, anonymous grid.
Bed-Stuy comprises roughly 2,000 acres and houses 400,000 people, making it among the 30 largest American cities.