‘Little Caribbean’ coming to Brooklyn: Pols designate district spanning nabes in honor of region’s immigrants

‘Little Caribbean’ coming to Brooklyn: Pols designate district spanning nabes in honor of region’s immigrants
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

Visiting the Caribbean is about to get a lot easier.

Local pols will designate the city’s first-ever “Little Caribbean” district on Sept. 28, officially commemorating parts of Prospect-Lefferts Gardens and Flatbush for their robust communities of immigrants from the region.The recognition will ensure the fast-gentrifying neighborhoods retain their Caribbean history and identity, according to the woman who spearheaded the naming initiative.

“Our communities are rapidly changing, especially in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, and it’s very important now to put our stake in the ground and make a collective effort to preserve and protect Caribbean culture for generations to come,” said Shelley Worrell, the founder of cultural advocacy group Caribbeing.

Kings County’s Caribbean population is second only to that of the region itself and formally recognizing it will increase awareness of the local community, ensuring it continues to thrive, Worrell said.

“Brooklyn has the largest and most diverse Caribbean population outside of the region,” she said. “One of the goals of Little Caribbean is to increase visibility and sales for small business along the corridors, in addition to showing Caribbeans back home that we are united here.”

Little Caribbean will include Flatbush Avenue between Empire Boulevard and Nostrand Avenue, Church Avenue between Flatbush and New York avenues, and Nostrand Avenue between Flatbush Avenue and Empire Boulevard. Passersby will know they are in the quarter thanks to new promotional signs that will be displayed throughout it, the Caribbeing president said.

The moniker is similar to those for other ethic enclaves such as Little Italy and Chinatown, according to Worrell, who said it is a designation in name only and does not mark the district for historic protection under the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

But the mayor and city Council support it, along with the borough president, who said he is looking forward to christening the area and the flurry of activity the naming will bring to the surrounding nabes.

“I’m proud to be a longtime supporter of Little Caribbean, and I’m even prouder that this designation is coming to fruition. Brooklyn is the epicenter of the Caribbean Diaspora, and this branding promises to have an incalculable value on the economic development and cultural pride of Flatbush and East Flatbush,” said Borough President Adams.

The designation follows the borough’s 50th-annual West Indian American Day Parade, a milestone that proved Brooklyn’s long-time Caribbean community deserves its own hub, Worrell said.

“Right now we are witnessing a number of changes. The West Indian American Day Carnival just celebrated 50 years of existence, signifying that the Caribbean community has a strong foothold in Brooklyn, central Brooklyn in particular,” she said.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com.