Bushwick - The Beer Capital Neighborhood in Brookly
As Bob Dylan wrote, “the times they are a-changin’, ” and no where is that phrase more evident in Brooklyn than in the neighborhood of Bushwick. During the 1977 Blackout, Bushwick was hit by riots, looting, and arson, destroying entire blocks of the commercial strips and resulted in the closing of one-third of the neighborhood’s stores. Within one year of the event more than 40 percent of the commercial and retail businesses shut their doors. But today, the landscape of Bushwick is being reborn with private and nonprofit partnerships producing affordable housing, government funded senior housing, luxury condominiums, and the arrival of artists, who have been at the forefront of development in many other Brooklyn neighborhoods.
Similar to other Brooklyn communities, in the 19th Century, Bushwick was a farming community, producing crops and tobacco that were purchased locally and exported to New York City. In the 1840s, heavy industry moved in to produce refined sugar, oil, chemicals, and glue. The inventor, manufacturer, philanthropist, and founder of Cooper Union, Peter Cooper, built his first factory in Bushwick.
Large groups of German-speaking immigrants settled in Bushwick, establishing so many breweries and beer gardens, that it soon became the “beer capital of New York” and a section with more then 10 breweries operating in a 14 block area was named “Brewer’s Row”. Brewers and other professionals lived in large mansions along Bushwick Avenue, and townhouses filled the side streets. Bushwick claimed only seven breweries after World War II. Other groups in the community included immigrants from France, Scandinavia, and England, and later immigrants came from Ireland, Russia, Poland, and Italy. After World War II African Americans and Puerto Ricans dominated, and in recent decades, immigrants from the Dominican Republican, Guyana, Ecuador, Jamaica, India, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan have moved in.