Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
Neighborhood of Brooklyn
Bed-Stuy, Do or Die
|City||New York City|
|Community District||Brooklyn 3, Brooklyn 8|
|• Total||7.21 km2 (2.782 sq mi)|
|• Density||21,863/km2 (56,625/sq mi)|
|• Median income||$51,907|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
11205, 11206, 11216, 11221, 11233, 11238
|Area code||718, 347, 929, and 917|
Bedford–Stuyvesant, colloquially known as Bed–Stuy, is a neighborhood in the northern section of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Bedford–Stuyvesant is bordered by Flushing Avenue to the north (bordering Williamsburg), Classon Avenue to the west (bordering Clinton Hill), Broadway to the east (bordering Bushwick and East New York), and Atlantic Avenue to the south (bordering Crown Heights and Brownsville). The main shopping street, Fulton Street runs east–west the length of the neighborhood and intersects high-traffic north–south streets including Bedford Avenue, Nostrand Avenue, and Stuyvesant Avenue. Bedford–Stuyvesant contains four smaller neighborhoods: Bedford, Stuyvesant Heights, Ocean Hill, and Weeksville (also part of Crown Heights). Part of Clinton Hill was once considered part of Bedford–Stuyvesant.
Bedford–Stuyvesant has the largest collection of intact and largely untouched Victorian architecture in the United States, with roughly 8,800 buildings built before 1900. Its building stock includes many historic brownstones. These homes were developed for the expanding upper-middle class from the 1890s to the late 1910s. These homes contain highly ornamental detailing throughout their interiors and have classical architectural elements, such as brackets, quoins, fluting, finials, and elaborate frieze and cornice banding.
Since the late 1930s, the neighborhood has been a major cultural center for Brooklyn's African American population. Following the construction of the Fulton Street subway line (A and C train) in 1936, African Americans left an overcrowded Harlem for greater housing availability in Bedford–Stuyvesant. From Bedford–Stuyvesant, African Americans have since moved into the surrounding areas of Brooklyn, such as East New York, Crown Heights, Brownsville, and Fort Greene.
Bedford–Stuyvesant is mostly part of Brooklyn Community District 3, though a small part is also in Community District 8. Its primary ZIP Codes are 11205, 11206, 11216, 11221, 11233, and 11238. Bedford–Stuyvesant is patrolled by the 79th and 81st Precincts of the New York City Police Department. Politically it is represented by the New York City Council's 36th District.
The neighborhood's name is a combination of the names of the Village of Bedford and Stuyvesant Heights neighborhoods. The name Stuyvesant derives from Peter Stuyvesant, the last governor of the colony of New Netherland.
17th and 18th centuries
In the second half of the 17th century, the lands which comprise the present neighborhood belonged to three Dutch settlers, Dirck Janse Hooghland, who operated a ferryboat on the East River, Jan Hansen and Leffert Pietersen van Haughwout, both farmers. In pre-revolutionary Kings County, Bedford was the first major settlement east of the then Village of Brooklyn on the ferry road to the town of Jamaica and eastern Long Island. Stuyvesant Heights, however, was farmland; the area became a community after the American Revolutionary War. In 1838 the Weeksville subsection was recognized as one of the first free African American communities in the United States.
For most of its early history, Stuyvesant Heights was part of the outlying farm area of the small hamlet of Bedford, settled by the Dutch during the 17th century within the incorporated town of Breuckelen. The hamlet had its beginnings when a group of Breuckelen residents decided to improve their farm properties behind the Wallabout section, which gradually developed into an important produce center and market. The petition to form a new hamlet was approved by Governor Stuyvesant in 1663. Its leading signer was Thomas Lambertsen, a carpenter from Holland. A year later the British capture of New Netherland signaled the end of Dutch rule. In Governor Nicolls' Charter of 1667 and in the Charter of 1686, Bedford is mentioned as a settlement within the Town of Brueckelen. Bedford hamlet had an inn as early as 1668, and in 1670 the people of Breuckelen purchased from the Canarsie Indians an additional area for common lands in the surrounding region.
Bedford Corners, located approximately where the present Bedford Avenue meets Fulton Street, and only three blocks west of the present Historic District, was the intersection of several well traveled roads. The Brooklyn and Jamaica Turnpike, constructed by a corporation founded in 1809 and one of the oldest roads in Kings County, ran parallel to the present Fulton Street, from the East River ferry to the village of Brooklyn, thence to the hamlet of Bedford and on toward Jamaica via Bed–Stuy. Farmers from New Lots and Flatbush used this road on their way to Manhattan. Within the Stuyvesant Heights Historic District, the Turnpike ran along the approximate line of Decatur Street. Cripplebush Road to Newtown and the Clove Road to Flatbush also met at Bedford Corners. Hunterfly Road, which joined the Turnpike about a mile to the east of Clove Road, also served as a route for farmers and fishermen of the Canarsie and New Lots areas.
At the time of the Revolution, Leffert's son Jakop was a leading citizen of Bedford and the town clerk of Brooklyn. His neighbor Lambert Suydam was captain of the Kings County troop of horse cavalry in 1776. An important part of the Battle of Long Island took place in and near the Historic District. In 1784, the people of the Town of Brooklyn held their first town meeting since 1776.
In 1800, Bedford was designated one of the seven districts of the Town of Brooklyn, and in 1834 it became part of the seventh and ninth wards of the newly incorporated City of Brooklyn.
The present gridiron street system was laid out in 1835, as shown by the Street Commissioners map of 1839, and the blocks were lotted. The new street grid system led to the abandonment of the Brooklyn and Jamaica Turnpike in favor of a continuation of Brooklyn's Fulton Street, which was opened up just south of the Historic District in 1842. The lands for the street system within what is now Bedford–Stuyvesant however were not sold to the City of Brooklyn until 1852. Earlier in the same year Charles C. Betts had purchased Maria Lott's tract of land. This marked the end of two centuries of Dutch patrimonial holdings. Betts, as Secretary of the Brooklyn Railroad Company acquired the land for the horsecar, later trolley, lines on Fulton Street and for investment purposes. Most of the streets were not actually opened, however, until the 1860s. Streets in Bedford–Stuyvesant were named after prominent figures in American history. Francis Lewis was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, whilst Bainbridge, Chauncey, Decatur and MacDonough were naval heroes of the Tripolitan War and the War of 1812. The Dripps Map of 1869 shows that the area was still largely rural with a few freestanding houses mostly on MacDonough Street. The real development of the district began slowly at first, accelerating between 1885 and 1900, and gradually tapering off during the first two decades of the 20th century.
With the building of the Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad in 1833, along Atlantic Avenue, Bedford was established as a railroad station near the intersection of current Atlantic Avenue and Franklin Avenues. In 1836, the Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad was taken over by the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). In 1878, the Brooklyn, Flatbush and Coney Island Railway established its northern terminal with a connection to the LIRR at the same location.
Construction of masonry row houses in the 1870s began to transform the rural district into an urban area. The first row of masonry houses in Stuyvesant Heights was built in 1872 on MacDonough Street for developer Curtis L. North. In the 1880s and 1890s, more rows were added, most of the Stuyvesant Heights north of Decatur Street looked much as it does today. Stuyvesant Heights was emerging as a neighborhood entity with its own distinctive characteristics. The houses had large rooms, high ceilings, and large windows. The people who brought these houses were generally upper-middle-class families, mostly lawyers, shopkeepers, and merchants of German and Irish descent, with a sprinkling of English people; there were also a few professionals. A contemporary description calls it a very well kept residential neighborhood, typical of the general description of Brooklyn as "a town of homes and churches."
Built in 1863, the Capitoline Grounds were the home of the Brooklyn Atlantics baseball team. The grounds were bordered by Nostrand Avenue, Halsey Street, Marcy Avenue, and Putnam Avenue. During the winters, the operators would flood the area and open an ice-skating arena. The grounds were demolished in 1880.
In 1890, the city of Brooklyn founded another subsection Ocean Hill, a working-class predominantly Italian enclave.
In the last decades of the 19th century, with the advent of electric trolleys and the Fulton Street Elevated, Bedford–Stuyvesant became a working-class and middle-class bedroom community for those working in downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan in New York City. At that time, most of the pre-existing wooden homes were destroyed and replaced with brownstone rowhouses.
1900s to 1950s
In 1907, the completion of the Williamsburg Bridge facilitated the immigration of Jews and Italians from the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
During the 1930s, major changes took place due to the Great Depression years. Immigrants from the American South and the Caribbean brought the neighborhood's black population to around 30,000, making it the second largest Black community in the city at the time. During World War II, the Brooklyn Navy Yard attracted many blacks to the neighborhood as an opportunity for employment, while the relatively prosperous war economy enabled many of the resident Jews and Italians to move to Queens and Long Island. By 1950, the number of blacks had risen to 155,000, comprising about 55 percent of the population of Bedford–Stuyvesant. In the 1950s, real estate agents and speculators employed blockbusting to turn a profit. As a result, formerly middle class white homes were being turned over to poorer black families. By 1960, eighty-five percent of the population was black.
Gang wars erupted in 1961 in Bedford–Stuyvesant. During the same year, Alfred E. Clark of The New York Times referred to it as "Brooklyn's Little Harlem". One of the first urban riots of the era took place there. Social and racial divisions in the city contributed to the tensions, which climaxed when attempts at community control in the nearby Ocean Hill-Brownsville school district pitted some black community residents and activists (from both inside and outside the area) against teachers, the majority of whom were white, many of them Jewish. Charges of racism were a common part of social tensions at the time.
In 1964, race riots broke out in the Manhattan neighborhood of Harlem after an Irish-American NYPD lieutenant, Thomas Gilligan, shot and killed an African American teenager, James Powell. The riot spread to Bedford–Stuyvesant and resulted in the destruction and looting of many neighborhood businesses, many of which were Jewish-owned. Race relations between the NYPD and the city's black community were strained as police were seen as an instrument of oppression and racially biased law enforcement; further, at that time, few black policemen were present on the force. In predominantly black New York neighborhoods, arrests and prosecutions for drug-related crimes were higher than anywhere else in the city, despite evidence that illegal drugs were used at at least the same rate in the white community, further contributing to the problems between the white dominated police force and black community. Coincidentally, the 1964 riot took place throughout the NYPD's 28th and 32nd precincts, in Harlem, and the 79th precinct, in Bedford–Stuyvesant, which at one time were the only three police precincts in the NYPD where black police officers were allowed to patrol. Race riots followed in 1967 and 1968, as part of the political and racial tensions in the United States of the era, aggravated by continued high unemployment among blacks, continued de facto segregation in housing, and the failure to enforce civil rights laws.
Following the 1964 election, With the help of local activists and politicians, such as Civil Court Judge Thomas Jones, grassroots organizations of community members and businesses willing to aid were formed and began the rebuilding of Bedford–Stuyvesant. Kennedy's program was soon used as a nationwide model in other large urban areas to fight the War on Poverty.
In 1965, Andrew W. Cooper, a journalist from Bedford–Stuyvesant, brought suit under the Voting Rights Act against racial gerrymandering. The lawsuit claimed that Bedford–Stuyvesant was divided among five congressional districts, each represented by a white Congress member. It resulted in the creation of New York's 12th Congressional District and the election in 1968 of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman and West Indian American ever elected to the US Congress. In early 1975, when Seatrain Shipbuilding, inside the Brooklyn Navy Yard, experienced a massive layoff of shipbuilders—80% of those affected living in and around Bedford–Stuyvesant—it was Congresswoman Chisholm who came to their rescue. Chisholm convinced the government to restructure existing loans and guarantee new loans backed by the VLCC's Stuyvesant and Bay Ridge so the shipbuilders could resume building them. From 1968 through 1979, Seatrain Shipbuilding was the largest employer inside the Brooklyn Navy Yard, providing an estimated $750 million in economic stimulus to the City of New York by way of its shipbuilding activities in those years.
In 1967, Robert F. Kennedy, who was elected US Senator for the State of New York, was tasked on fighting the war on poverty as race riots broke out across the urban north while the issues of the civil rights movement in southern states were still more of a priority for African American rights activists. Rather than focus on problems facing African Americans outside of New York, Kennedy launched a study of problems facing the urban poor in Bedford–Stuyvesant, which received almost no federal aid and was the city's largest non-white community. The Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation was established as the United States’ first community development corporation, envisioned by Kennedy, along with Jacob Javits, Elsie Richardson, Franklin A. Thomas, John Doar, and other activists. The Manhattan-based Development and Services Corporation (D&S) was established, which was composed of business, banking and professional leaders which advised and fundraised private funding for the BSRC’s projects.
The abandoned Sheffield Milk bottling plant on Fulton Street was turned into the BRSC offices in 1967; the same year saw the start of the exterior restoration project, which employed local residents to work with contractors to repair facades, restore stoops, fix and replace railings and fences and redo sidewalks. The BSRC bought many housing units in Bedford-Stuyvesant and hired local residents to renovate the units; the BRSC also administered a $73 million mortgage assistance program to encourage African-American homeownership. In 1968, Thomas A. Watson, who was on the board of directors for the D&S, opened an IBM computer cable factory in an abandoned building on the corner of Gates and Nostrand.
As part of the BRSC, architect I.M. Pei implemented a controversial plan to create two superblocks on St. Marks Avenue and Prospect Place, between Kingston and Albany avenues; the project closed the streets off from traffic and cut a pathway mid-block to join the two and fill the street spaces with recreational spaces.
1970s and 1980s
In 1977, a power outage occurred across New York City due to a power failure at the Con Edison Plant. Looters took advantage of the outage, and Bedford–Stuyvesant and neighboring Bushwick were two of the worst-hit areas. Thirty-five blocks of Broadway, the street dividing the two communities, were affected, with 134 stores looted, 45 of which were set ablaze.
In the late 1980s, resistance to illegal drug-dealing included, according to Rita Webb Smith, following police arrests with a civilian Sunni Muslim 40-day patrol of several blocks near a mosque, the same group having earlier evicted drug sellers at a landlord's request, although that also resulted in arrests of the Muslims for "burglary, menacing and possession of weapons", resulting in a probationary sentence.
Beginning in the 2000s, the neighborhood began to experience gentrification. The two significant reasons for this were the affordable housing stock consisting of brownstone rowhouses located on quiet tree-lined streets and the marked decrease of crime in the neighborhood. New clothing stores, mid-century collector furniture stores, florists, bakeries, cafes, and restaurants opened, and Fresh Direct began delivering to the area. As a result, Bedford–Stuyvesant became increasingly racially, economically, and ethnically diverse, with an increase of foreign-born Afro-Caribbean and African residents as well as residents of other ethnic backgrounds. As is expected with gentrification, the influx of new residents has contributed to the displacement of poorer residents. In other cases, newcomers have rehabilitated and occupied formerly vacant and abandoned properties.
Through a series of "wallscapes" (large outdoor murals), the campaign honored famous community members, including community activist and poet June Jordan, activist Hattie Carthan, and rapper The Notorious B.I.G. The campaign sought to show off the area's positive accomplishments.
Despite the largest recession to hit the United States in the last 70 years, gentrification continues steadily throughout the neighborhood, if not accelerated by the relatively affordable prices of living in Bedford–Stuyvesant. The strong community and abundance of historic brownstone townhouses in the neighborhood contribute to its growth. Since 2008 a score of new cafes, restaurants, bakeries, boutiques, galleries, and wine bars have sprung up in the area, with concentrated growth along the western and southern parts of the neighborhood; the blocks north of the Nostrand Avenue and Fulton Street intersection and west of Fulton Street and Stuyvesant Avenues were particularly impacted. In 2011, Bedford–Stuyvesant listed three Zagat-rated restaurants for the first time. Today there are over ten Zagat-rated establishments, and in June 2013, 7 Arlington Place, the setting for Spike Lee's 1994 film Crooklyn, was sold for over its asking price, at $1.7 million.
A diverse mix of students, hipsters, artists, creative professionals, architects, and attorneys of all races continue to move to the neighborhood. A business improvement district has been launched along the Fulton and Nostrand Corridor with a redesigned streetscape to include new street trees, street furniture, pavers, and signage and improved cleanliness in an effort to attract more business investment. Major infrastructure upgrades have been performed or are in progress, such as Brooklyn's first Select Bus Service route, the B44 SBS Bus Rapid Transit service along Nostrand and Bedford Avenues, which began operating in late 2013. Other infrastructure upgrades in the neighborhood includes major sewer and water modernization projects. Verizon FiOS and Cablevision also continue to expand high-speed fiber-optic and cable service to the area. Improved natural and organic produce continue to become available at local delis and grocers, the farmer's market on Malcolm X Boulevard, and through the Bed-Stuy Farm Share. FreshDirect services the neighborhood, and a large member constituency of the adjacent Greene-Hill Food Coop are from Bedford–Stuyvesant.
In spring 2013, the Bedford–Stuyvesant YMCA received a $25,000 donation from DKNY following the wishes of a resident photographer whose work had been used by the company without his permission.
- Bedford, the western section of Bedford-Stuyvesant. Before the American Revolutionary War times, it was the first settlement to the east of the Village of Brooklyn.
- Ocean Hill, the eastern section. Ocean Hill received its name in 1890 for being slightly hilly. Hence it was subdivided from the larger community of Stuyvesant Heights. From the beginning of the 20th century to the 1960s Ocean Hill was an Italian enclave. By the late 1960s Ocean Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant proper together formed the largest African American community in the United States.
- Stuyvesant Heights, the center and northeast section. It has historically been an African-American enclave.
- Weeksville, the southeast section. Weeksville was named after an ex-slave from Virginia, who in 1838 bought a plot of land and founded Weeksville.
Stuyvesant Heights Historic District
On Decatur Street
|Location||Roughly bounded by Macon, Tompkins, Decatur, Lewis, Chauncey, and Stuyvesant, New York, New York|
|Area||42 acres (17 ha)|
|Architectural style||Italianate, Queen Anne, Romanesque|
|NRHP reference No.||75001193|
Stuyvesant Heights Historic District (Boundary Increase)
|Location||Roughly, Decatur St. from Tompkins to Lewis Aves., Brooklyn, New York|
|Area||10 acres (4.0 ha)|
|Architectural style||Italianate, Second Empire, Queen Anne|
|NRHP reference No.||96001355|
|Added to NRHP||November 15, 1996|
|Added to NRHP||December 4, 1975|
Stuyvesant Heights Historic District is a national historic district in Bedford-Stuyvesant that consists of 577 contributing residential buildings built between about 1870 and 1900. The district encompasses 17 individual blocks (13 identified in 1975 and four new in 1996). The buildings within the district consist primarily of two and three-story rowhouses with high basements, with a few multiple dwellings and institutional structures. The district includes the Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church, the Romanesque Revival style Mount Lebanon Baptist Church, and St. Phillip's Episcopal Church. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and expanded in 1996. Bedford Stuyvesant/Expanded Stuyvesant Heights Historic District was designated on April 16, 2013 and extended the district north to Jefferson Ave, east to Malcolm X Blvd, and west to Tompkins Avenue.
The entirety of Community Board 3 had 152,403 inhabitants as of NYC Health's 2018 Community Health Profile, with an average life expectancy of 76.8 years. This is lower than the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods. Most inhabitants are middle-aged adults and youth: 24% are between the ages of 0–17, 33% between 25–44, and 22% between 45–64. The ratio of college-aged and elderly residents was lower, at 10% and 11% respectively.
As of 2016, the median household income in Community Board 3 was $51,907. In 2018, an estimated 23% of Bedford–Stuyvesant residents lived in poverty, compared to 21% in all of Brooklyn and 20% in all of New York City. One in eight residents (13%) were unemployed, compared to 9% in the rest of both Brooklyn and New York City. Rent burden, or the percentage of residents who have difficulty paying their rent, is 53% in Bedford–Stuyvesant, higher than the citywide and boroughwide rates of 52% and 51% respectively. As of late 2021, Bedford–Stuyvesant is considered to be gentrifying.
The 1790 census records of Bedford lists 132 freemen and 72 slaves. Rapid population growth followed major improvements to public transportation. By 1873, Bed-Stuy's (predominantly white) population was 14,000. In the early 1900s, prosperous black families began buying up the mansions of Bed-Stuy, many of which were designed by prominent architects. The population was quick to grow, but it wasn't until the 1930s that Bed-Stuy's black population boomed. Following the introduction of the IND Fulton Street Line (a.k.a. the A/C line) in 1936, African-Americans left crowded Harlem in search of better housing opportunities. Bed-Stuy quickly became the second destination for black New Yorkers and the New York Times even dubbed it “Little Harlem” in 1961.
After a large decline during the 1970s (mirroring the citywide decline), the population in Bedford Stuyvesant grew by 34 percent between 1980 and 2015 (faster than the citywide growth rate of 21 percent) to reach 150,900 residents. The population increased by 25 percent between 2000 and 2015, more than three times faster than the citywide rate. The ethnic and racial mix of the population has undergone dramatic changes in the past 15 years as the neighborhood has attracted new residents. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, three-quarters of the residents identified as black or African-American in 2000, but this share had declined to less than half of the population by 2015. In 2015 (the latest year for which census data are available), one-quarter of the residents were white and nearly one-fifth were Hispanic. By comparison, in 2000, less than 3 percent of the population was white (the Hispanic share of the population has remained relatively unchanged). The Asian population has grown, but remains relatively small, making up less than 3 percent of the neighborhood According to the US Census Bureau, in 2019 the population was 46% Black, 29% White, 20% Hispanic, 3% Asian, and 2% other or from two or more races.
Bedford–Stuyvesant is served by the New York City Subway's IND Fulton Street Line (A and C train), which opened in 1936. This underground line replaced the earlier, elevated BMT Fulton Street Line on May 31, 1940. The IND Crosstown Line (G train), running underneath Lafayette Avenue and Marcy Avenue, opened for service in 1937. The elevated BMT Jamaica Line (J, M, and Z train) also serves the neighborhood, running alongside its northern boundary at Broadway. Additionally, the elevated BMT Lexington Avenue Line served Lexington Avenue until 1950 and the elevated BMT Myrtle Avenue Line served Myrtle Avenue to the north until 1969.
Bedford–Stuyvesant is also served by the Nostrand Avenue station of the Long Island Rail Road.
Several bus routes, operated by MTA Regional Bus Operations, run through Bedford–Stuyvesant. The B7, B15, B43, B44, B44 SBS, B46, B46 SBS, B47, B48, B60 routes run primarily north to south through the neighborhood, while the B25, B26, B38, B52, B54, B57 run primarily west to east, and the Q24, B46, and B47 run northwest to southeast on Broadway.
In popular culture
- Billy Joel's 1980 song "You May Be Right" includes "I walked through Bedford-Stuy alone" in a list of foolhardy things the singer has done.
- Do the Right Thing, a movie by Spike Lee
- Notorious B.I.G., a rapper who included Bed–Stuy in his lyrics, he "publicly claim[ed] Bedford-Stuyvesant as his neighborhood". A 2009 film, Notorious, about life in Bed–Stuy in the 1990s, emphasized Notorious B.I.G.
- The television show Everybody Hates Chris was partially based in Bed-Stuy.
- The 2011 Jay-Z song "Gotta Have It" featuring Kanye West contains the lyrics "Made a left on Nostrand Ave., we in Bed-Stuy".
- Bed-Stuy is the main setting of Rita Williams-Garcia's novel P.S. Be Eleven.
- In the 2012 volume of Hawkeye, Clint Barton lives in and assumes ownership of an apartment in Bed-Stuy, which provides the main setting for the comic.
- The song Hurricane by Halsey_(singer) mentions the suburb Bed-Stuy several times "there's a place way down in Bed-Study, where a boy lives behind bricks."
Bedford–Stuyvesant generally has a lower ratio of college-educated residents than the rest of the city as of 2018[update]. While 35% of residents age 25 and older have a college education or higher, 21% have less than a high school education and 43% are high school graduates or have some college education. By contrast, 40% of Brooklynites and 38% of city residents have a college education or higher. The percentage of Bedford–Stuyvesant students excelling in reading and math has been increasing, with reading achievement rising from 32 percent in 2000 to 37 percent in 2011, and math achievement rising from 23 percent to 47 percent within the same time period.
Bedford–Stuyvesant's rate of elementary school student absenteeism is higher than the rest of New York City. In Bedford–Stuyvesant, 30% of elementary school students missed twenty or more days per school year, compared to the citywide average of 20% of students. Additionally, 70% of high school students in Bedford–Stuyvesant graduate on time, lower than the citywide average of 75% of students.
Several public schools serve Bedford-Stuyvesant. The zoned high school for the neighborhood is Boys and Girls High School on Fulton Street. The Brooklyn Brownstone School, a public elementary school located in the MS 35 campus on MacDonough Street, and was developed in 2008 by the Stuyvesant Heights Parents Association and the New York City Board of Education. At the eastern edge of the neighborhood is Paul Robeson High School for Business and Technology.
Many public schools are named after prominent African-Americans and, as stated by Nikole Hannah-Jones in The New York Times, were "intended to evoke black uplift". Hannah-Jones wrote in 2016 that many wealthier residents choose to use magnet schools or private schools instead of neighborhood schools.
For the early grades Ember Charter School for Mindful Education and Success Academy Bed-Stuy 1 and 2 are charter schools. Bed-Stuy is also home to the Brooklyn Waldorf School, which moved to Claver Castle (at 11 Jefferson Avenue) in 2011.
Other institutions include:
- Boys High School
- Girl's High School
- Pratt Institute
- Brooklyn Brownstone Elementary School
- Weeksville Heritage Center
- Bedford Academy High School
By 2021 the interim location of the German School of Brooklyn (GSB) was the former Coop School in the Bedford Stuyvesant and Clinton Hill area. In 2021 the school moved all levels to its permanent site at 9 Hanover Place in Downtown Brooklyn.
The Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) has four branches in Bedford-Stuyvesant:
- The Bedford branch and Bedford Learning Center, at 496 Franklin Avenue near Fulton Street. The branch opened in 1905.
- The Marcy branch, at 617 DeKalb Avenue near Nostrand Avenue.
- The Macon branch, at 361 Lewis Avenue near Macon Street. The branch is a Carnegie library that opened in 1907. It contains the Dionne Mack-Harvin Center, a collection dedicated to African American culture.
- The Saratoga branch, at 8 Thomas S. Boyland Street near Macon Street. The branch is a Carnegie library that opened in 1909.
- Aaliyah (1979–2001), Grammy-nominated singer.
- Aja (born 1994), drag queen and performer.
- Big Daddy Kane (born 1968), rapper.
- Memphis Bleek (born 1978), rapper.
- Mark Breland (born 1963), boxer.
- Foxy Brown (born 1978), rapper
- Lil Cease (born 1977), rapper
- Shirley Chisholm (1924–2005), congresswoman
- Imani Coppola (born 1978), singer-songwriter
- Alan Dale (1925–2002), singer and star of The Alan Dale Show
- Tommy Davis (1939–2022),professional baseball player and coach, who played in Major League Baseball as a left fielder and third baseman from 1959 to 1976 for ten different teams, most notably for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
- Deemi (born 1980), singer
- Desiigner (born 1997), rapper
- Easy Mo Bee (born 1965), record producer
- Nelson Erazo (born 1977), professional wrestler better known by his ring name Homicide
- Fabolous (born 1977), rapper
- Bobby Fischer (1943–2008), eleventh World Chess Champion.
- William Forsythe (born 1955), actor.
- Jackie Gleason (1916–87), actor, comedian
- Carl Gordon (1932–2010), actor
- Kadeem Hardison (born 1965), actor, portrays Dwayne Wayne on A Different World
- Richie Havens (1941–2013), musician and poet
- Connie Hawkins (1942-2017), Basketball Hall of Fame player
- Lena Horne (1917–2010), actress and singer
- Jay-Z (born 1969), rapper and entrepreneur, who lived in the Marcy Housing Projects for most of his childhood
- Jaz-O (born 1964), rapper
- Norah Jones (born 1979), singer
- June Jordan (1936–2002), Caribbean American poet, novelist, journalist, biographer, dramatist, teacher and activist
- Wee Willie Keeler (1872–1923), Baseball Hall-of-Famer
- Brian Kokoska (born 1988), artist
- Talib Kweli (born 1975), emcee
- Lil' Kim (born 1974), rapper
- Maino (born 1973), rapper
- Masta Ace (born 1966), rapper
- Frank McCourt (1930–2009), a writer, and Malachy McCourt (born 1931), an actor, writer and politician. Frank's autobiographical bestseller Angela's Ashes describes their early childhood life in a working-class apartment building on Classon Avenue.
- Frank Mickens (1946–2009), educator
- Stephanie Mills (born 1957), singer
- Sauce Money (born 1969), rapper
- Dianne Morales (born 1967), non-profit executive, 2021 mayoral candidate for New York City
- Tracy Morgan (born 1968), comedian and actor
- Mos Def (aka Yasiin Bey) (born 1973), rapper
- Ali Shaheed Muhammad (born 1970), DJ, producer and member of A Tribe Called Quest
- Jack Newfield (1938–2004), journalist
- Harry Nilsson (1941-1994), musician, songwriter and author
- The Notorious B.I.G. (born Christopher Wallace; also Biggie Smalls) (1972–97), rapper, grew up near the Clinton Hill-Bed Stuy border.
- Oddisee (born 1985), rapper and producer
- Papoose (born 1978), rapper
- Floyd Patterson (1935–2006), boxer
- Martha M. Place (1849–99), first woman to be put to death in the electric chair
- Jackie Robinson (1919–1972), professional baseball player with the Brooklyn Dodgers
- Chris Rock (born 1965), actor/comedian. Also made a TV series about his early life, with much of it based in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
- Tony Rock (born 1974), comedian and younger brother of Chris Rock.
- Gabourey Sidibe (born 1983), Academy Award-nominated actress
- Skyzoo (born 1982), rapper
- Brandon Stanton (born 1984), Humans of New York author and photographer
- Tek (born 1973), one half of Smif-N-Wessun
- Bill Thompson (born 1953), New York City 2013 Mayoral candidate
- Mike Tyson (born 1966), boxer, lived there with his family until the age of 10.
- Martha Wainwright (born 1976), singer
- Dan Washburn (born 1973), author of The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream.
- Whodini, hip-hop group
- Lenny Wilkens (born 1937), Basketball Hall of Fame player and coach
- Juan Williams (born 1954), journalist and political analyst
- Ted Williams (born 1957), voiceover artist
- Vanessa A. Williams (born 1963), actress