You know you’re living in a hot neighborhood when people from Manhattan visit the area to sample the restaurants and shopping. That’s exactly the status enjoyed by Park Slope, Brooklyn, the area under the south side of Prospect Park that is home to a varied and vibrant population that includes students, young married couples, new parents, wealthy professionals—and some longtime residents who stuck with the area through some rough times and are now enjoying the social and financial fruits of the neighborhood’s revitalization. It’s hard to find someone who lives in “The Slope” who doesn’t love it.
Slope of Ages
Before the Brooklyn Bridge was built in 1883, the area that was to become Park Slope was accessible from Manhattan only by ferry, making it largely the domain of farmers and wealthy landowners keen on elbowroom.
One of the latter was lawyer and railroad magnate Edwin C. Litchfield, who owned all of what eventually became Prospect Park. The city purchased the 526 acres for the park from the Litchfield family in the 1860s, and today the Brooklyn Parks Department uses the Litchfield Manor as its headquarters. The creation of Prospect Park gave the neighborhood an anchor, and the presence of established, wealthy families like the Litchfields made Park Slope a fashionable place for the very wealthy to build and live.
Construction of the Brooklyn Bridge enabled goods and people to pass back and forth with greater ease and less expense, and by the end of the 19th century the U.S. Census Bureau reported that Park Slope residents had the highest per capita income in the nation. The ornate limestone and brownstone façades of Park Slope are a testament to the attention those Victorian Brooklynites paid to detail and luxury—and to the money they were willing to spend for both.