Ocean Hill is a subsection of Bedford-Stuyvesant in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Founded in 1890, the neighborhood is part of Brooklyn Community Board 3 and Brooklyn Community Board 16. The ZIP code for the neighborhood is 11233. The neighborhood has a diverse community with a large number of African Americans, and a small number of Caribbean and Latin Americans.
Ocean Hill's boundaries start from Broadway (Bushwick) in the north, Ralph Avenue (Bed-Stuy proper) to the west, East New York Avenue (Brownsville) in the south, and Van Sinderen Avenue (East New York) to the east.
Ocean Hill received its name in 1890 for being slightly hilly. Hence it was subdivided from the larger community of Stuyvesant Heights. From the beginning of the 20th century to the 1960s Ocean Hill was an Italian enclave. By the late 1960s Ocean Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant proper together formed the largest African American community in the United States.
In 1968, the Ocean Hill-Brownsville school district experienced the worst teacher strike in history. At that time, the New York City Board of Education controlled the entire school system. In response to complaints from parents in poor minority neighborhoods that schools were failing their students, the Ford Foundation helped fund an experimental program in the district that gave control to local educators and families. The program started off smoothly, but it ended as a fiery chapter in city history. Charging that Board of Ed employees were seeking to sabotage the decentralization effort, black district leaders exiled 13 teachers and six administrators -- most of them Jewish -- to other districts. As the teachers’ union protested the transfers, the two sides traded harsh accusations of racism and anti-Semitism. Teachers declared a strike, shuttering most of the city’s schools. The conflict finally ended when the Board of Ed agreed to set up local school boards throughout the city.
In 1977, a major blackout devastated New York City. The neighborhood experienced arson and ransacking. Many apartment buildings were badly burned and abandoned for many years like the ones in the South Bronx. Finally in the 1990s Ocean Hill experienced a revitalization as many abandoned buildings and lots were renovated.
Ocean Hill is in the process of gentrification. An increasing number of Asian, Hispanic, White as well as Black professionals are moving into the area. This is because the rents are slightly lower than in the rest of Bed-Stuy proper. Many abandoned buildings and brownstones have been rehabilitated. Prospect Plaza Houses, once a notorious housing project unit, has been closed by the New York City Housing Authority and is in the process of being rebuilt under the federally-funded HOPE VI program.
The 73rd Police Precinct covers the area. For many years, from the 1960s to approximately 2001, along with neighboring Brownsville, Ocean Hill experienced a high crime rate. Currently, the crime rate for Ocean Hill has reached an all time low.
The main thoroughfare is Rockaway Avenue, and it is served by the IND Fulton Street Line (A and C trains) and the BMT Jamaica Line (J and Z trains) of the New York City Subway. The neighborhood is also near a central transportation hub, the Broadway Junction Subway Station, where the A,C,L,J and Z lines meet. It is one of the largest subway stations in Brooklyn. There is also the LIRR at the nearby East New York Station.
In recent years some trendy shops have attracted businesses into Rockaway Avenue. There are attempts to overhaul the area to resemble Fort Greene-Clinton Hill due to the low rents and massive retail space. Brownstones, tenement and regular houses in the area are one of the lowest in Brooklyn, ranging from $300,000 to $600,000.
Many residents of Ocean Hill consider themselves residents of Bedford-Stuyvesant. The news media also uses the Bed-Stuy name 80 percent of the time. Recently due to gentrification many real estate developers and the community board use the name Bedford-Stuyvesant/Ocean Hill or just plainly Bedford-Stuyvesant, to avoid the neighborhood being confused with neighboring Brownsville, considered a symbol of urban blight to many.