NYC’s Worst Neighborhood with a Dark Past, The Hole

On the border of Brooklyn and Queens, lies a run down area at the intersection of Linden and Conduit Blvd. There’s no Streetlights, no Sidewalks, and no Sewer system. Abandoned cars, crumbling buildings, and mounds of debris are scattered between vacant lots and fields.

It has a reputation of some of the worst conditions in NYC. Sitting 12 feet below surrounding streets, this small Brooklyn neighborhood is aptly called “The Hole” NYC

I’ve always seen it on Google Maps (shown above) and decided to check it out one day and learn more about it.

History

Looking back through the old city tax lot photos, it looks like The Hole originally had a modest population of 1st-Gen Italian and Irish Americans who settled here from more crowded areas west in Brooklyn. Much of the surrounding area was farmland or marshes. I spoke to a former resident and he said the reason The Hole sits lower is because Spring Creek ran here and created a natural low-lying area with soft earth. The first wave of residents dug in foundations and created some of the buildings down below.

A few decades later, The Hole became home to the local chapter of the Federation of Black Cowboy’s. Many former vacant houses were now residences for cowboys and stallions. Unfortunately after many horses died, they moved their operation south of The Hole to the Belt Parkway, where you can still meet them and book riding lessons.

In the 1960s-1990s there was a large migration of people out of this area to surrounding Howard Beach, Ozone Park, and East NY. Many buildings started to get boarded up and dilapidated. Arson and drug use crept in from the surrounding projects to the west (East NY and Brownsville) The original population of The Hole was around 5,000 in the 50s, this fell by more than 80% by the 1980s! Photos of the 1980s are shown below. (To learn how I obtained these vintage NYC photos, see this article.)

A Corpse Burial Ground

Because of its location and reputation, the area has long been associated with crime, arson, and disposal since the 1970s. I spoke to former residents, who told me stories of burning cars, robberies on nearby Linden Blvd, and hearing assaults and possibly gunshots around in the vacant fields. A woman also mentioned a decrepit petting zoo owned by a resident who held cockfighting matches at night with bantam roosters. Another former resident told me there was a jewelry store which also cleaned guns and sharpened knives on the side.

All of this activity became magnified in 1981, when children who were playing accidentally discovered decomposing bodies of the Bonanno crime family. In 2004 FBI agents found more bodies linked to mob murders. It is believed that more bodies remain buried under the land, including Thomas DiSimone. He is the basis of the character Tommy in Goodfellas, played by Joe Pesci.

Today – July 2020

Today there are some signs of change, some houses are becoming renovated and there is a row of new housing developments inching closer to the Hole. However, some parts are still in ruin as it was since the 1960s. Here are some photos of The Hole NYC as it is today.

3 thoughts on “NYC’s Worst Neighborhood with a Dark Past, The Hole”

  1. I wanted to alert you to one thing – I knew The Hole, eons ago, when there was a Dixie Dew and Lynnes Riding School in Forest Hills and the Black Cowboys were there and I’d go, with friends, to watch their horse shows – but a lot of times gone by, I no longer have a horse, Dixie Dew is long gone, Lynne sold her barn and donated her horses to GallopNYC, a non-profit organization that does therapeutic riding for children with disabilities, and rides and lessons for all and THEY also took over the former Brooklyn property, redid the entire place, have wonderful horses, renamed it Sunrise and does the same wonderful work there that they do in Forest Hills, but outdoors, since they don’t have hue the inside riding ring that Forest Hills has with therapeutic riding inside and lessons and group rides in Forest Park.

    They are a wonderful organization, and I volunteer at the FH stable to make sure the horses there have their shots and bi-annual exams for their licenses as the barn manager of both stables does at Sunrise, and both sets of horses were pastured upstate during the bad days of the Pandemic in New York and are now safely home . I think your readers should be made aware of that!!! Check their website out – GallopNYC.org – thanks

    1. Awesome, I did go to Jamaica Bay riding academy a couple of years ago, I’m not sure if they were part of TBC but it was a great experience, lots of fun. Ill check out the site and more about Gallop! I live near forest park and see many horses so those may be from there.

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