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What Brooklyn looked like in the 1990s Through these Captivating Photos

Close your eyes and imagine Brooklyn. Do you see trendy coffee shops and million-dollar lofts? Bustling tech firms and artisanal ice cream stores? While that’s certainly the Brooklyn of today, step back in time to the 1990s and you’ll find a borough vastly different, a vibrant tapestry woven with grit, creativity, and an undeniable magic.

The Hip-Hop Renaissance and Beyond

Music was the lifeblood of 90s Brooklyn. Boomboxes blasted hip-hop anthems on street corners, while the sounds of nascent grunge filtered out of basement venues. Coffee shops served as open mic nights, and record stores like St. Mark’s Sounds became cultural hubs.

Legends like Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z emerged, putting Brooklyn on the global map with their lyrical prowess. Simultaneously, alternative and indie music scenes thrived, with venues like the Williamsburg’s Northsix attracting burgeoning talents and music aficionados alike.

Reclaiming and Revitalizing Spaces

Brooklyn’s urban landscape underwent significant changes in the ’90s. Abandoned warehouses in areas like DUMBO transformed into artists’ lofts and trendy galleries. The brownstone revival, which began in the ’80s, gained momentum, with more families and young professionals choosing Brooklyn as their home, reinvigorating neighborhoods and elevating property values.

Green Spaces and Community Gatherings

The decade saw a renewed focus on Brooklyn’s parks and recreational spaces. Prospect Park, under revitalization efforts, reemerged as a beloved oasis for families, joggers, and nature enthusiasts. Additionally, community gardens sprouted across the borough, turning vacant lots into verdant communal havens.

#1 Street Scene in Brighton Beach, Nicknamed ‘Little Odessa’ in Brooklyn, 1990

#2 A Baker in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, Displays Various Types of Bread, 1990

#3 View from Under Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO, Brooklyn, 1990

#4 North Atlantic Textile Factory Building in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 1990

#5 Exterior of the Faith That Pleases God Church in Brooklyn, 1990

#6 Brooklyn Bridge View from Under Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO, Brooklyn, 1990

#7 Trolley Tracks on Cobblestone Street Under Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn, 1990

#8 Demonstrators Wait for Verdict in Yusuf Hawkins Trial in Brooklyn, 1990

#9 Teacher with 4th-Grade Class at Public School 309 in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, 1990

#10 Russian Orthodox Church in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, 1990

#11 Randy Weston Rides a Carousel at Coney Island in Brooklyn, 1991

#13 Smith Building with Fire Escape in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 1991

#14 Streets of Bushwick Show Poverty and Crime in Brooklyn, 1991

#15 Troutman Street in Bushwick Known for Drugs and Prostitution in Brooklyn, 1991

#16 Dumping Area in Brooklyn Captured in October, 1991

#17 Kids Build Sand Castles on Coney Island Boardwalk in Brooklyn, 1991

#18 Civil War Era Warehouse in Red Hook, Brooklyn, 1992

#19 Warehouses Connected by Walkways in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 1992

#20 Washington Cemetery Building Seen from Train Platform in Brooklyn, 1992

#21 Facade of Spike Lee’s Retail Store Spike’s Joint in Brooklyn, 1992

#22 Facade of Spike Lee’s Retail Store Spike’s Joint in Brooklyn, 1992

#23 Facade of Spike Lee’s Retail Store Spike’s Joint in Brooklyn, 1992

#24 Graffiti-Covered Wall in Poor Neighborhood in Brooklyn, 1992

#25 New York City Marathon Water Station on Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 1992

#26 Runner and Wheelchair Racer in NYC Marathon, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 1992

#27 Abandoned Building on South 4th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 1992

#28 Marathon Volunteers Set Up Water Stations in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 1992

#29 Marathon Water Stations at 10 Mile Marker in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 1992

#30 Marathon Volunteers Fill Water Cups in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 1992

#31 Marathon Water Station Setup in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 1992

#32 Man Fills Large Container for Marathon in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 1992

#33 Marathon Runners Pass 10 Mile Marker in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 1992

#34 Woman Sits in Plastic Pool Under Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn, 1993

#35 Snowstorm Blankets Coney Island in Brooklyn, 1993

#36 Graffiti-Laden Subway Station on Dean Street, Brooklyn, 1993

#37 Debris in Steeplechase Park After Riot in Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1993

#38 Notorious B.I.G. Outside His Mother’s House in Brooklyn

#39 NYPD Mounted Unit Patrols Coney Island Boardwalk, Brooklyn, June 24

#40 Fishermen and Others on Coney Island Pier, Brooklyn, 1995

#41 Children Seated on F Train in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, 1995

#42 Commuters on F Train at Unidentified Station, Brooklyn, 1995

#43 Sideshow Artists Perform on Coney Island Boardwalk, Brooklyn, 1995

#44 Edward Krachie Wins Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1995

#45 Jack Nicholson on Set of “As Good As It Gets” in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn

#46 Wonder Wheel at Luna Park, Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1997

#47 Man Dressed as Mickey Mouse at Luna Park, Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1997

#48 Biggie Smalls’ Funeral Procession in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, 1997

#50 View of World Trade Center from Gowanus Overpass, Brooklyn, 1998

#51 Resident on Brownstone Stoop in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, 1998

#52 Boy Throws Flower into Atlantic Ocean, Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1998

#55 Facade of Spike Lee’s Retail Store Spike’s Joint, Brooklyn, 1990

#56 View of Manhattan from Under Brooklyn Bridge, 1990

#57 Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, Downtown Manhattan, 1993

#60 Young Hassidic Boy Goes for Pony Ride, Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1995

#61 People Enjoy View from South Street Seaport to Brooklyn Bridge, 1994

#63 Falun Dafa Group in Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

#64 Person Views Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges from South Street Seaport, 1990s

#66 E.P. Grocery Store, corner of Mother Gaston Blvd. and Belmont Ave., Brooklyn, 1998.

#67 View from the Tompkins Houses toward Park Ave. at Tompkins Ave., Pfizer Plant on the right, Brooklyn, 1998.

#68 Crime scene, Eastern Parkway by Saratoga Ave., Brooklyn, 1998. Uncle killed his niece and them himself, 1998.

#69 View from the roof of Marcus Garvey Houses at 317 Sutter Ave., toward Rockaway Ave., Brooklyn, 1998.

#70 Methadone Clinic, Powell Ave. at Sutter Ave., Brooklyn, 1997.

#71 Holy House of Prayer for All People, formerly the Parkway Theater, 1768 St. Johns Place, Brooklyn, 1996.

#75 517 Nostrand Ave. by Herkeimer St., Brooklyn, 1996.

#76 Prayer Palace, Broadway at Greene Ave., Brooklyn, 1996.

#77 View of Lower Manhattan from Crown Heights, showing the 1927 Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower, Brooklyn, 1996.

#78 Former Aidlin Automation, 1613 East New York Ave., Brooklyn, 1996.

#79 View from 1140 Broadway along the J and Z lines, Brooklyn, 1996.

#80 Urban Strategies Inc., Day Care Center #2, 452 Pennsylvania Ave., Brooklyn, 1994.

#81 Former Aidlin Automation, 1613 E. New York Ave., Brooklyn, 1994.

#82 View of the J and Z lines along Broadway from Sumpter St., Brooklyn, 1994.

#83 View from Flushing Ave. entrance to the G train toward Union Ave. and Gerry St., Brooklyn, 1994.

#84 J.R. Food Center, corner of Mother Gaston Blvd. and Belmont Ave., Brooklyn, 1993.

#86 Homeless shelter, Chauncey St., view north from Broadway, Brooklyn, 1993.

#87 View from the Tompkins Houses toward Park Ave. at Tompkins Ave., Pfizer Plant on the right, Brooklyn, 1992.

#89 View of the J and Z lines along Broadway from Sumpter St., Brooklyn, 1992.

#90 View toward Bergen St. from the roof of the Howard Houses, Mother Gaston Blvd. at E. New York Ave., Brooklyn, 1992.

#92 Z and L lines, ENY from Liberty St., Brooklyn, 1991.

#94 Corner of Saratoga Ave. at St. Mark’s Ave., Brooklyn, 1991.

#95 View along Broadway from Sumpter St., Brooklyn, 1991.

#96 View from the L line, at Van Sinderen Ave. and E. New York Ave., Brooklyn, 1991.

#98 St. Luke Community Church, 142 Watkins St., Brooklyn, 1990

#99 View north toward Broadway from 8th St., Brooklyn, 1990

#100 View toward Broadway, Subway entering Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 1990

#101 View SW along S. 8th St. from Berry Ave., Brooklyn, 1990

#102 L Line, view of E. N.Y. from Junius St. at Livonia Ave., Brooklyn, 1990,

#104 Methadone Clinic, 629 Classon Ave., Brooklyn, 1990

#105 Southwest view towards Manhattan, New York, from Independence Houses, Taylor Street at Whyte Place, Brooklyn, 1990

#106 View west along Broadway from Sumpter St., Brooklyn, 1990

#107 L Line, view of E. N.Y. from Junius St. at Livonia Ave., Brooklyn, 1999.

#109 Former Aidlin Automation, 1613 E. New York Ave., Brooklyn, 1999.

#110 View west along Broadway from Sumpter St., Brooklyn, 1999.

#111 Providence House, 703 Lexington Ave., Brooklyn, 1999.

Written by Adriana Palmer

Blogger, Editor and Environmentalist. A writer by day and an enthusiastic reader by night. Following the Jim Roh's prophecy “Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.”

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