Close-Up on Prospect Heights


“Prices are just ridiculous,” says Marjorie Thompson, a broker and resident of Prospect Heights for 10 years. Located on the northern edge of Prospect Park and bordered by Eastern Parkway and Flatbush, Washington, and Atlantic avenues, Prospect Heights is home to the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, the Brooklyn Public Library, and Grand Army Plaza. The neighborhood has recently been affected by Park Slope’s steroidal rent increases, which have pushed renters across Flatbush into the row houses of Park Place and Carlton Avenue. It is a reminder of Brooklyn’s late-19th-century opulence as well as its decline from the ’60s through the ’80s and a signifier of its current return to hip. Yet Prospect Heights does not strive to replicate Park Slope, and some residents worry over its recent popularity. Since the 1870s it has seen a mix of Italian, African American, Irish, and Jewish cultures, and it currently has a strong Caribbean presence.

Mass Transit: 25 minutes to 14th Street; 1, 2, 4 (late night) trains from Grand Army Plaza; 1, 2, 4 (late night) from Eastern Parkway and Bergen.

Average Apartment Rents: Studio: $950; one-bedroom: $1100; two-bedroom: $1700.

Average Price to Buy: One-bedroom co-op: $175,000; two-bedroom co-op: $250,000 to $300,000. Three-story brownstone: $850,000. Prices vary greatly, with the hottest property on Eastern Parkway or on the neighborhood’s south end between Carlton and Vanderbilt.

Main Drags: Eastern Parkway, Vanderbilt Avenue, and Washington Avenue.

Notable Events: The West Indian-American Day Parade, which ends at Washington Avenue, is held annually on Eastern Parkway on Labor Day. In its 33rd year, it is the Northeast’s biggest festival. Weeks before the parade/carnival, steel-drum bands can be heard in backyards and open spaces throughout Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, and Flatbush.

Landmarks: Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux outdid themselves with 526-acre Prospect Park. In 1892, John Duncan built the 80-foot-tall Soldiers’s and Sailors’s Memorial Arch, commemorating Union Civil War troops and giving Brooklyn a far superior Grand Army Plaza to Manhattan’s barely known site just southeast of Central Park. From 1 to 5 p.m. on weekends, from May 10 through October 27, climb the archway’s 103 stairs, catch views of the park, downtown Brooklyn, and Manhattan. The apartment building on the corner of Plaza Street East and Vanderbilt was once the upper-crust Riding and Driving Club, which had a direct entrance into the park. Mount Prospect, a 7.8-acre park and playground sandwiched between the library and the museum on Brooklyn’s second highest point, was a Continental Army lookout post before the Battle of Brooklyn in 1776. In 1856 it was turned into a reservoir. In the late 1930s, the city filled it in and converted it to a park.

Cultural Institutions: Rudy’s pet peeve, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Botanical Gardens are on Eastern Parkway. Don’t forget the Public Library—Brooklyn’s rival to 42nd Street—and the Saturday farmer’s market near the Grand Army Plaza entrance to the park. A new resident, the nonprofit Nkiru Center for Education & Culture, 732 Washington Avenue, includes the oldest African American-owned bookstore in Brooklyn. It moved from Park Slope two years ago. Bought in 1998 by hip-hop poets Talib Kweli and Mos Def, current Topdog/Underdog star, Nkiru organizes literacy projects with city schools and conducts workshops, storytellings, and lectures. Check out Foundations!—open-mike, hip-hop, and spoken word on the last Saturday of every month.

Famous Residents: Inga Marchand, a/k/a Foxy Brown, grew up in Prospect Heights.

Local Politicos: Congressman and longtime Prospect Heights resident Major Owens (Democrat); Assemblyman Roger Green (Democrat), City Councilman James E. Davis (Democrat); State Senator Velmanette Montgomery (Democrat).

Best Restaurants: In another incarnation it was a numbers hall, but now you can get super-hot veggie patties and roti at Little Miss Muffin ‘N’ Her Stuffin, 174 Park Place, just off Flatbush. Bob Law’s Seafood Café, 637 Vanderbilt, has good collard greens and grilled salmon. The owner of S&D Restaurant and Bakery barbecues jerk chicken and pepper shrimp out front at 667 Washington Avenue every day. For something candlelit try the Tavern on Dean, 755 Dean Street. And there’s the neighborhood relic, Tom’s Restaurant, 782 Washington, with sunflower-and-butterfly mugs, electric Santas on top of the ice chests, and a good BLT on white. They serve coffee and orange slices while you wait in line.

Best Bars: An old Daily News spot back when its printing plant was in Brooklyn, Freddy’s, 485 Dean Street, has a good jukebox, rocker crowd, and bands on weekends. Mooney’s Pub, 353 Flatbush, is a mainstay. Most bartenders have a personal-mix CD on the jukebox, and you can bring chicken wings from next door. Two doors down is the Up Over Jazz Café, where recent performances have included the Freddie Hubbard Quintet and Vanessa Rubin is scheduled to appear May 10.

Crime Stats: Prospect Heights, along with Crown Heights and Weeksville, is policed by the 77th Precinct. The 77’s most recent year-to-date report lists 7 homicides, 10 rapes, 138 robberies, and 144 burglaries. Homicides are up 17 percent from last year. Rapes have declined 29 percent, robberies 8 percent, and burglaries 3 percent.