Downtown Brooklyn

Downtown Brooklyn

Creative Industry, Innovative Destruction: Urban Transformation in Downtown Brooklyn

Downtown Brooklyn, Image credit: Jinwon Kim

Downtown Brooklyn, the civic and commercial center of the borough, has attracted new jobs and residents in the past decade. Between 2010 and 2016, according to the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, the neighborhood has grown in residential population by 31%, and tech, advertising, media and information jobs grew 115; 1,211 new firms were added between 2010 and 2015. However, this growth and economic development mainly benefit people with high human and financial capital. For example, the Fulton Mall has undergone dramatic changes in the past two decades. Once a shopping district for white middle- and upper-middle class Americans until 1940s, it became a commercial center for largely for African American and Caribbean shoppers. In recent years it has transformed yet again, attracting national retail chains and luxury stores. Downtown Brooklyn, in fact, has become a battlefield over gentrification and the displacement of mom-and-pop stores and old residents – mostly people of color, particularly Black residents, who were left behind in the neighborhood during the urban crisis and white flight.

These urban transformations raise several questions regarding what Brooklyn is and who belongs here.  I am interested in learning about the landscape of Downtown Brooklyn by highlighting three themes: 1) urban redevelopment and rezoning – the development of high-rise luxury condos and new luxury shops, 2) new industries – tech, advertising, media and information, and 3) colleges and universities.


As a part of my ongoing project, I have incorporated my research into my teaching. I brought my urban sociology students to Downtown Brooklyn in order to observe urban changes; and requested them to write four writing assignments, based on their field work and archival research, before we transformed all the in-person classes into online classes.

I participated in the OER(Open Educational Resources) fellowship at my institution, City Tech, CUNY; and will implement my work to my urban sociology class in Fall, 2020.  If you want to know more about my OER class, please visit my class site. Click this link!