FLATBUSH – Today is Haitian Flag Day and to celebrate, elected officials gathered on the corner of Newkirk and Nostrand Avenues to announce that Little Haiti Business and Cultural district is coming soon. They also unveiled a new sign for Toussaint L’Ouverture Blvd along portions of Nostrand Avenue.
The proposed Little Haiti Business and Cultural District (a legislation currently awaiting to pass the City Council) will be defined as the area roughly between Avenue H and Parkside Avenue, East 16th Street and Brooklyn Avenue.
The proposed legislation is expected to go before the City Council early this summer. It is also expected to pass. The proposed area is twice that of and overlaps with Little Caribbean district that is bordered by Nostrand, Flatbush and Empire.
“Little Haiti is an idea whose time has come. Brooklyn is the Port-au-Prince of America, and it’s time for the world to know and come experience all we have to offer,” Borough President Eric Adams said. “On this year’s Haitian Flag Day, we raise our voices to make Little Haiti an official designation in the heart of Flatbush.”
Flatbush has a high population of Haitians. As per 2013 statistics, Brooklyn has close to 50,000 Haitian-born residents, most clustered around Flatbush. For Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte, the first Haitian-American to be elected to the State Legislature from New York City, having a Little Haiti district means very much.
“The Little Italy model provided a blueprint of sorts for Little Haiti,” Bichotte said. “And we believe that with this designation we will see an infusion of tourism and business activity similar to the foot traffic seen in the Lower East Side after the designation of Little Italy.”
Council Member Jumaane Williams, who represents the Flatbush area and is running for Lieutenant Governor, spoke about how the Haitian culture impacts Brooklyn.
“I’m proud to represent the largest group of Haitians in America, outside of Florida. Haitian culture has been and continues to be extremely impactful and beneficial in this community and in the entire city,” Williams said. “This designation is a great way for… NYC to show the world and the nation that Haitians add a cultural, educational, and economic significance to this country that cannot be ignored.”
After the press conference, a new sign for Toussaint L’Ouverture Blvd, which overlaps portions of Nostrand Avenue, was unveiled. Parts of Rogers Avenue will be co-named after the Haitian Revolutionary leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines.
“Few are aware that Haitians fought in the American Revolution on the side of the founding fathers,” Bichotte said. “In fact, there is a monument to the sacrifice of these Haitians in Savannah, Georgia.”