Flatbush is a large neighborhood in central Brooklyn, located between Prospect Park and Canarsie. One of the original Six Towns that merged to become Brooklyn, Flatbush includes the planned communities of Prospect Park South, Ditmas Park, and Fiske Terrace. The community of Pigtown, once a part of Flatbush, is now within the boundaries of Crown Heights.
The name “Flatbush” is an English version of the Dutch “Vladbos” or “Flakkebos”, meaning (roughly) “Wooded Land”. The nearby neighborhood of Midwood is considered by some to be a part of Flatbush, but this is historically incorrect, since Midwood was actually a part of the New Utrecht and Gravesend settlements.
Flatbush is bordered by Crown Heights to the north (at Clarkson Avenue), East Flatbush to (surprisingly enough) the east at Flatbush Avenue, Midwood to the south (at Avenue K), and Ditmas Park / Kensington to the west (at Coney Island Avenue if you consider Ditmas Park to be a part of Flatbush, or Ocean Parkway for the purists insistent on calling Ditmas a separate neighborhood).
Flatbush is famous for its inventory of detached Victorian mansions, but its housing stock is much more diverse. Flatbush has over 3,500 houses, and over 30,000 apartments. As one of the original Six Towns, Flatbush has witnessed waves of immigration from around the globe, and every change brought with it a preference for a different architectural style.
To illustrate the amazing variety of Flatbush housing styles, here are some examples. In the northwest corner of Flatbush, you may find an outcropping of barrel-front limestone rowhouses (Martense Avenue), while the southeast presents a mix of brick and frame semi-detached Colonial and Ranch houses. Albemarle Terrace is filled with English Georgian revival row cottages, each with a distinctive paint scheme.
The neighborhood is home to several historic and cultural landmarks. The main campus of the Brooklyn College, considered to be the best-looking campus in the borough, is located in south-central Flatbush. The 96-acre Holy Cross Cemetery, founded in 1849, is located in north-central Flatbush, at the exact geographical center of Kings County.
The Erasmus Hall High School, founded in 1903, is located on Flatbush Avenue just south of Church Avenue. The school’s founders included Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, and its long list of alumni includes such notables as Neil Diamond, Joseph Barbera, Bobby Fischer, Barbra Streisand, Mae West, and dozens of others. The academy’s stately Collegiate Gothic buildings are a treasured part of Brooklyn’s architectural portfolio, as is The Dutch Reformed Church, at 890 Flatbush Avenue, one of the oldest in the city.
Public transportation in Flatbush is provided by the 2, 5, B, and Q subway lines, as well as over a dozen buses. The B/Q serves the neighborhood’s western part (Ditmas Park), while the 2/5 line provides central Flatbush residents with a connection to the Atlantic-Pacific hub, with its 11 train lines, over a dozen bus lines, and LIRR access. Local buses run along all major avenues, and there’s even an express to Manhattan (X29) and the Queens-bound Q35.
The neighborhood’s largest green-space is the 585-acre Prospect Park, which adjoins the western side of Flatbush. The park complex includes a 114-acre forest and a lake with a 90-acre meadow (largest urban-park meadow in the nation). The park’s recreational facilities offer athletic equipment and fields, community events, free concerts and tours, and much more. Nearby Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a 52-acre expanse filled with over 10,000 species of plants. The Grand Army Plaza complex, Prospect Park’s majestic main entrance, includes landmarks such as the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the main location of the Brooklyn Public Library.