FORT GREENE, BROOKLYN
Fort Greene, Brooklyn:
We all have childhood memories that are both good and bad. We can remember playing basketball all night long, playing skelly, coco levio (I think that’s how you spell it) or jumping rope all night long. All of the fights and altercations you had growing up with the people who would eventually be some of your closest friends. We can remember our first loves whether that pertains to boys/girls, sports, rapping & etc.
I just get that nostalgic feeling when I think of the place I grew up @ Fort Greene, Brooklyn. I spent most of my childhood growing up in another section of Brooklyn which is also near and dear to my heart Brownsville, Brooklyn. Then the family was uprooted to a place I initially don’t want to come to. Fort Greene had this reputation for being gangsta! At least that’s what I would hear whenever it was referenced from someone.
I wasn’t happy with my mothers choice for our family’s relocation. Who knew I would fall in love with this neighborhood so fast. It did live up to its reputation. I can remember the first night in our new apt, there was so many gunshots I thought we were at war with Farragut houses. Everyone I would talk to would give this advice “don’t tell anyone from Farragut that you’re from Fort Greene, for your own safety” and vice versa words to live by.
However, things weren’t all bad I met alot of great people growing up there. A place where I would meet my My childhood sweetheart whom I would eventually marry. Who knew we would share so many common factors. We’re both from Brownsville, I went to school with her brother, yet I never met her until me moved to the Fort go figure.
Fort Greene summers were the absolute best. I remember all of the basketball tournaments that would take us on a tour of the whole neighborhood. From P.S 20 schoolyard to Tillary park and all sections in between. I know there are people out there who’s memories outreach mines. There are generations of families that were virtually here since its inception.
I can remember Fort Greene Day was and still is a prideful day for Fort Greene residents. All beef would be set aside (seemingly) not always but if was a family feel. Watching the groups of kids performing their dance Routines throughout the PJ’s to the summers hottest anthems. Every bldg had their own group of clicks. Even within the bldg itself, you had the group of guys who played ball, the hustlers, the rappers. Umm nostalga i can just picture it now. Standing in the bldg lobby banging on the walls freestyling, nothing like it in the world. Snapping, cutting ass or playing the dozens.
It was such an interesting dynamic because in the daytime the lobby was filled by the bldg tenant patrol. Which probably consists of your grandmother and father, Aunts & Uncles & nosey neighbors. However when the sun went doen and they folded their tables and chairs the kids took over the lobby especially in the winter months.
Now when I say Fort Greene in this blog it basically means the projects. No disrespect to all of the side blocks and adjoining neighborhoods such as Clinton Hill which many people consider to be an extension of the Fort Greene boundaries. However i would be remiss if i didn’t mention the overall history of the whole area.
In Walt Whitman Houses better known as Fort Greene Projects. If you live or lived here you probably never referenced it as Walt Whitman its “official name”. Is a very historic area of Brooklyn for many reasons. We have so much history within our boundaries, such as:
- The Brooklyn Navy Yard– where the officers there made the warships that would eventually help win the war in world war II
- Fort Greene Park– Is the first park established in Brooklyn. It is also the crown jewel of the neighborhood. Fort Greene park is also the resting place for a lot of Revolutionary war casulties who fought under the leadership of Gen. George Washington (our nations 1st president).
- Williamsburg Savings Bank Tower– Better known as the the tallest building in Brooklyn
- Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)-America’s Oldest performing Arts center since 1861
- Hanson Place Baptist Church– A stop on the trail of the Underground Railroad.
Fort Greene is and has been the home of many famous & Noteworthy people, such as:
- Dana Dane– Hip Hop artist & pioneer.
- Bernard King– NBA player who played for the Knicks in the mid 80’s
- Spike Lee-Film Director and avid fan of the NY Knicks.
- Rosie Perez-Hollywood Actress.
- Chubb Rock– Hip Hop pioneer.
- Michael Jordan-Born in Cumberland Hospital.
- 50 Cent-The Original 50 cent.
- Walt Whitman-Novelist Poet and editor.
There are basically Four distinct parts to to Fort Greene Projects:
- The Far Side- basically from Carlton Ave to N. Portland Av. (South is Myrtle Av. North is Park Av.).
- The Middle Side– St. Edwards St To Navy St. (South is Myrtle Ave. North is Park Av.).
- The Island- N. Portland Av. to St. Edwards St. (South is Myrtle Av, North is Ashburn Pl.).
- The First Side- Prince St. to Navy st. (South is Myrtle Av. North is Park Av.).
We all know that gentrification now plays a huge part in today’s society. It has in many Fort Greene residents eyes changed things far too much. It’s main purpose it to uplift and create a better living environment for the people of the community but really all it does is push out all the “unwanted residents, under performing, financially unbalanced & lower income people” who made this great community what it is now. There is no excaping the fact that things needed to change and be improved upon. However to strip a community of it’s core fiber in order to make it what the city feels a more appealing, more exclusive place to live is simply wrong.
Myrtle Ave, one of Fort Greene main thoroughfares has changed drastically no longer are there just simply broken down bodegas, chinese restaurants and dilapilated building encasing the streets. Now it looks so trendy, there are Bars, Coffee shops, Banks, clothing outlets & etc. Yes there is a significant change happening, there are condos and co-ops popping up on every corner seemingly. Rent rates in the blocks surrounding the projects have soared. It seems that the projects are the only place in the neighborhood to live where you can afford to pay the rent.
I’m not as opposed to gentrification of the neighborhood as long it includes the current residents and not exclude them on the new brighter future of Fort Greene. If you grew up here you probably share the same sentiments. Whether you still live here, have lived here in the past or plan to live here in the future. We need to protect our history while encouraging and supporting our future. Stay strong neighbors and keep representing your hood, in this case mines is Fort Greene (Projects).