Brownsville is bordered by East New York Avenue to the north (on the Bedford-Stuyvesant border), Remsen Avenue to the west (Flatbush) and the freight rail Bay Ridge Branch of the Long Island Rail Road to the south (adjacent to the neighborhood of Canarsie) & to the east (East New York).
Brownsville is dominated by public housing development of various types. There is also a significant concentration of semi detached multi-unit row houses similar to those found in East New York and Soundview surrounding the public housing developments. Many, however, have been torn down and replaced by vacant lots or newly constructed subsidized attachment multi-unit rowhouses. There is also a small number of tenements in the area. The neighborhood contains the highest concentration of NYCHA developments in New York City.
It was a predominantly Jewish neighborhood until the 1960’s, when its population had become largely African-American.
After a wave of arson throughout the 1970’s ravaged the low-income communities of New York City, many if not most of the residents structures in Brownsville were left seriously damaged or destroyed. The city began to rehabilitate many formally abandoned tenement-style apartment buildings and designate them low-income housing beginning in the late 1970s. Also many subsidized multi-unit townhouses and newly constructed apartment buildings have been or are being built on vacant lots across the neighborhood.
Brownsville main thoroughfare is Pitkin Avenue. It is also accessible on the New York City subway system via the 3 and L trains.