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For displaced, misplaced, and nostalgic ex-Brooklynites


For our first survey in quite a while, we went back to the beginning of The Brooklyn Board and reissued this survey about where and when we lived in Brooklyn, and when and why we left. Our intention was to allow our "1998" audience to share this interesting data with us, and the response was very good. In only a week we received 129 usable responses, significantly faster than the rate last year, when it took us two weeks to receive 97 responses. This turnout highlights the ongoing popularity of the board. Several enthusiastic people provided more than one response. In such cases, only the first was accepted.

Overall, the results seem to mimic those of the first survey, with some minor but interesting differences. A few new questions were added this time around.

The total number of unique, usable responses was 129.

The average of the span of years of people living in Brooklyn was 1947 through 1971, which extends the first survey's result (1949-1971) by two years. The earliest year anyone reported living in Brooklyn was 1928, while last year someone reported living in Brooklyn as early as 1922. As expected, there were those who reported 1998 as the year they left. The average number of years you lived in Brooklyn was very similar to last year's result (22): 21.5.

The neighborhood breakdown was as follows:
(Percentages are of all responses, rounded to nearest integer)
Bergen Beach 1 1%
Bay Ridge 4 3%
Bedford-Stuyvesant 3 2%
Bensonhurst 7 5%
Borough Park 2 2%
Brighton Beach 10 8%
Brownsville 2 2%
Canarsie 6 5%
Coney Island 8 6%
Crown Heights 5 4%
East New York 9 7%
Flatbush 28 22%
Flatlands 1 1%
Graves End 4 3%
Greenpoint 1 1%
Midwood 4 3%
Mill Basin 2 2%
Park Slope 8 6%
Red Hook 2 2%
Seagate 2 2%
Sheepshead Bay 15 12%
Sunset Park 4 3%
Not sure 1 1%

Those neighborhoods not listed above (Brooklyn Heights, Marine Park, etc.) were not represented in the response set.

How old were you when you left Brooklyn?

Younger than 12 4 3%
12 - 20 30 23%
21 - 30 69 53%
31 - 40 16 12%
41 - 50 7 5%
Older than 50 3 2%

What were the reasons you left Brooklyn?
(Multiple responses were allowed, so the sum of the percentages exceeds 100.)
A Better Life 58 45%
Career Opportunities 34 26%
College/Graduate School 18 14%
Crime/Lack of Safety 25 20%
Educational Opportunities (i.e. better schools) 37 29%
Family Obligations (parents/marriage/divorce/etc.) 24 19%
General Deterioration of the Neighborhood 32 25%
Hated City Life 13 10%
Housing Opportunities 30 23%
Just Needed A Change 16 12%
Military Service 14 11%
Retirement 11 7%
Other* 8 5%

When you left Brooklyn, were you sure that you'd never live there again?

Yes 70 54%
No 59 46%

When you left Brooklyn, did you leave behind any family?

Yes 114 88%
No 15 12%

Which, if any, of the following expressions would be closest to describing the feeling you had on the day you finally left Brooklyn for good?

Good riddance! 5 4%
It's been a long time coming! 12 9%
So long, I hate to have to leave ya! 48 37%
I'll be back... 6 5%
I'll never love anyplace more than this... 32 25%
None of the above 31 24%

Thanks again to those who participated. Apparently, putting words into people's mouths was not a good idea, judging by the "None of the Above" responses to the last question. The enormous number of you who left family behind makes clear not only that your roots were well planted in Brooklyn, but that your need to leave (and therefore sever your lives from those roots) must've been somewhat compelling.


©1998 SofTech Consulting
Chappaqua, N.Y.