2023 proved to be a dynamic one for Downtown Brooklyn! This year saw a flurry of activity: public space and transportation enhancements; a vibrant array of engaging events; the emergence of exciting new local businesses; and more. Keep scrolling for moments and photos from this year, and be sure to watch our end-of-year highlights reel.



Construction really ramped up at Abolitionist Place this year.  The new 1.15 acre of open space located between Duffield Street and Albee Square West will have a children’s play area, waterplay feature, lawn space, a dog run, multiple seating areas, and more. Abolitionist Place is slated to open in spring 2024.

A $40m investment in downtown brooklyn

In July, NYC Mayor Eric Adams announced an investment of over $40M in Downtown Brooklyn, that will deliver streetscape improvements, transportation and public space upgrades, and pedestrian safety enhancements. A key win for Downtown Brooklyn is the $8M funding for the Fulton Mall Streetscape – adopting the recommendations and designs of DBP’s Public Real Action Plan.


In September, Metropolitan Transit Authority CEO Janno Lieber, Chief Accessibility Officer Quemel Arroyo, Councilmember Lincoln Restler, and DBP President Regina Myer unveiled the newly-renovated Fulton Mall entrance of the Hoyt St. Subway Station. The renovations were paid for by Macy’s, and include a new elevator — a win for accessibility in the neighborhood!


By the time fall came around, Willoughby was freed from the shackles of the sidewalk sheds that had enveloped 345 Adams Street for the past seven years – shrouding Willoughby Plaza and the adjacent sidewalk of Adams Street. Finally, we could again sit outside and enjoy food from nearby businesses while soaking in the Downtown Brooklyn sun!

Public art

common ground

DBP’s public art program saw the installation of Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong’s COMMON GROUND, a site-specific interactive public art piece in partnership with Van Alen Institute. With its sound-activated lights, the work offered a playable topography that transformed The Plaza at 300 Ashland into an oasis for sitting, socializing, and gathering. The piece was accompanied by programming featuring from Brooklyn artists who activated the space with their movement and sound.

shared streets asphalt art: terrain park

Downtown Brooklyn’s Shared Streets network got brand new colorful asphalt art. Inspired by natural landscape and topography, Terrain Park by Ann Tarantino uses vibrant hues to create a lively streetscape that complements the street furniture, bike racks, granite blocks, and signature planters of Downtown Brooklyn’s Shared Streets ped spaces.

sky’s the limit in the county of kings

Originally unveiled at Clumber Corner near the Brooklyn Bridge, Sky’s the Limit in the County of Kings by Sherwin Banfield — a project of the Downtown Brooklyn and Dumbo Art Fund — was relocated to Columbus Park in August.

new businesses

This year, Downtown Brooklyn welcomed a wave of shop and dine establishments – adding new and fresh flavors to the neighborhood.

  • A slew of healthy food places, such as Quality Greens Kitchen, Sweetgreen, Everytable, and DIG — which lead us to renaming Willoughby Street Salad Alley.
  • Classic-style fast food joints, such as 7th Street Burger, Dave’s Hot Chicken, and 375° Chicken n’ Fries. Meanwhile, beloved Circa Brewing Co. rebranded in December with a new name: Sound & Fury Brewing.
  • Fast-casual eateries, including Mighty Quinn’s, Halal Munchies, Empanada Loca at AL B’s, Jack’s Stir Brew, Osteria Brooklyn, Nan Xiang Express, Silky Kitchen, German Doner Kebab concession at Columbus Park, and Wonder — just to name a few.

2023 further cemented Downtown Brooklyn as a recreation destination. Openings included tennis club Court 16 at City Point BKLYN; and Pilates studio [solidcore] at 11 Hoyt.

In the world of fine dining, Gage & Tollner began offering lunch service, and famed chef Michael Brogan opened up Maison Sun at 200-3 Schermerhorn. And that’s not all — more beloved establishments plan to open their doors in 2024, such as Sephora, Raising Canes, Fogo de Chão, and Hot Peppers Inc.; as well as grocery stores Fresh Grocer and Gourmet Glatt.


downtown brooklyn presents

2023 marked the tenth year of our annual Downtown Brooklyn Presents programming series! Throughout the season, we hosted several events in celebration of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, including Check the Rhime Hip-Hop Karaoke, a hip-hop edition of Bare Feet Downtown Brooklyn with Mickela Mallozzi featuring The Ladies of Hip-Hop, a Juneteenth celebration with 651 Arts, and an all-out hip-hop party titled FLAVORS with the renowned DJ Spinna.

To celebrate the public spaces that make Downtown Brooklyn so great, we held several car-free events on the streets, including Downtown Brooklyn Car-Free Earth Day on Albee Square and Albee Square West, a Spring Fling Block Party with DoorDash and Nimbus on Bridge Street, and Willoughby Walks with NYU Tisch and The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at Willoughby and Pearl Streets.

Fan-favorite event series returned this year, including Ping-Pong with The Push, Zumba with Dodge YMCA, Vinyl Nights at Albee Square, lunchtime concerts at Willoughby Plaza, Brooklyn Commons, and Columbus Park. We hosted these alongside new additions to our event lineup, including Sip ‘n’ Paint Happy Hours with The Craft Studio Brooklyn, a pet adoption event with Bideawee, and a back-to-school celebration with Macy’s Downtown Brooklyn.

Holiday programming returned in full swing this year as we took to Albee Square to celebrate Lunar New Year, BKLYN BOO! with City Point BKLYN, and DTBK Gets Lit! in November in partnership with the Office of Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso.

downtown brooklyn arts festival

The Downtown Brooklyn Arts Festival took place on September 30 and October 1 at The Plaza at 300 Ashland. The festival celebrates the neighborhood’s cultural community along with the artists, writers, and performers who inspire its creative spirit. See our full recap of DBAF 2023.

make it in brooklyn

miib meetups

2023 saw the return of Make It in Brooklyn meetups and pitch contests. In January and again in November, we gathered champions of Downtown Brooklyn at Ace Hotel Brooklyn for panel discussions at the first Real Estate Tech Breakfast. In June we hosted the Make It in Brooklyn clean energy panel featuring M/WBE founders and professionals from NYC’s clean energy sector.

pitch contests

Make It in Brooklyn programming this year also included two popular pitch contests. The Female Founder’s Pitch Contest saw five bright up-and-coming female-led startups compete, with Meili Technologies taking home the $5,000 prize.

In August, we selected five startups to compete for the $5,000 prize money — this time, with a focus on the use of artificial intelligence for good. The competition was close, but founder Colette Ellis of Libbie Health won for her transformative solutions surrounding mental health in the workplace.

Living Lab

During the summer, we worked with Cornell Tech to deploy “trashbots” under our Living Lab program, which tests experimental tech in real-world environments. The remote-controlled trash cans played a role in a larger study of the ways people respond to service robots in public spaces.

culture + education

Big things happened in the cultural and educational sectors. In January, the City announced that it would invest $20M to build the Brooklyn Navy Yard a Biotech Hub: a 50,000sqft incubator that would provide workforce training and space for industry startups, amongst other goals.

In September, Design Works High School rang in its first semester at 1 Willoughby Square, and The Center for Brooklyn History re-opened for the first time since their merger with Brooklyn Public Library. Meanwhile, renovations are almost complete on the LIU Brooklyn Paramount Theater, bringing new life to the 95-year-old gem at the corner of Flatbush and DeKalb Avenues. The theater will accommodate 2,600 people at most, and anticipates a spring 2024 opening.

commercial attraction

2023 proved that Downtown Brooklyn continues to be a hub for creative firms and local businesses. This year, talked to some of them and learned why Downtown Brooklyn is the place to be. Check out our profiles of Ms. Foundation for Women, Planet X Studios, Bottom Line, Kelvin, and Architecture Research Office (ARO).

Finally, in 2023 we worked with KUDOS Design Collaboratory to design a new website that more accurately reflects the ever-evolving landscape of Downtown Brooklyn. As you can see, the neighborhood is a booming hotspot of activity, and our new website documents all of it! As we head into the new year, be sure to check back regularly for the latest news on everything Downtown Brooklyn.

Here’s to an amazing 2024!