Past in Crown Heights Is Baltimore’s Present

February 21, 2011  |  

(Wall Street Journal) — Developers are courting a new class of upscale condo buyers in Crown Heights, as gentrification marches east from what has been traditionally known as “Brownstone Brooklyn,” as The Journal reported Friday.  Swanky new construction and a middle-class influx are significant changes for Crown Heights, a neighborhood that has suffered from problems with crime, unemployment and disinvestment in past decades. An important factor: many older residents still hear echoes of the three days in August 1991 that ripped the social fabric in a neighborhood still shared by Jewish and Afro-Caribbean populations.

It has been nearly two decades since the Crown Heights riots, a three-day burst of violence that pitted the neighborhood’s black community against its Orthodox Jewish community. The violence, triggered by the accidental death at the hands of a Jewish driver of a seven-year-old black boy named Gavin Cato, resulted in widespread property destruction and led to the murder of a young Jewish man visiting from Australia. Fallout from the incident helped to swing the 1993 mayoral election in favor of Rudy Giuliani over incumbent Mayor David Dinkins.

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