Canarsie is a neighborhood in the southern part of Brooklyn and is bordered on the east by Fresh Creek Basin, East 108th St., and the L Subway line, on the North by Linden Boulevard, on the west by Remsen Avenue and on the South by Jamaica Bay. Canarsie is surrounded by the neighborhoods of East Flatbush, Flatlands, Mill Basin, Bergen Beach, and East New York.
Canarsie is a phonetic interpretation of a word in the Lenape Native American language for “fenced land” or “fort.” Europeans would often refer to the indigenous people living in an area by the local place-name, so reference may be found in contemporary documents to the “Canarsee Indians.” The current neighborhood lies within the former town of Flatlands, one of the five original Dutch towns on Long Island.
Canarsie was built on swamps near Jamaica Bay. It was a fishing village through the 1800’s, until pollution killed the oysters and edible fish there. In the 1920’s, Southern Italian immigrants with Jews settled in the area. During the 1990’s, much of Canarsie’s white population left to Staten Island, Long Island, and Queens, part of a national urban phenomenon referred to by many as “white flight.” Today, Canarsie’s population is mostly West Indian due to the large numbers of Immigrants from the Islands living there.
At the southeast end of the neighborhood lies Canarsie Pier on Jamaica Bay, a fishing recreation area. Canarsie Pier is part of Gateway National Recreation Area which is a National Park Service site. At the other end of the neighborhood mostly commercial buildings and warehouses can be found. Canarsie has many parks, including a large park over 100 acres in size that is commonly referred to as Seaview Park, but is officially named Canarsie Beach Park.
Of interest also is The Canarsie Courier, the oldest weekly publication in Brooklyn. It is headquartered at 1142 East 92nd Street and published every Thursday. It was founded by Walter S. Patrick on April 22, 1921. The newspaper’s estimated circulation is less than 10,000, including paid, mailed subscriptions and subscribers to their Web site, as well as newsstand and over-the-counter sales. In addition to Canarsie, the Courier is distributed in such middle class south Brooklyn communities as Georgetown, Mill Basin, Bergen Beach, Marine Park, parts of East Flatbush and Starrett City, among others. While the publication focuses on local community news, it also offers readers a variety of features such as local sports, culture news, guest columns, and opinion columns by in-house editors.
Some Notable current and former residents of Canarsie include rap group The Fat Boys, official DJ of the NFL Joseph Rizzo, TV broadcaster Al Roker, and NBA Great John Sally.