The oldest – and one of the last remaining – majority-Black incorporated towns in the country is threatened by a declining population, high unemployment rate and limited economy. The village has sold parcels of land to railroad companies, contributing to the ongoing disinvestment in this historically significant town located on the Mississippi River.
The Route 66 town of Brooklyn in St. Clair County is located 3 miles north of East St. Louis on Illinois Route 3. It is also located east of St. Louis, Missouri, directly across the Mississippi River. It was settled in 1829, and officially incorporated 1873.
Landmarks Illinois recommendations: There are numerous organizations, stakeholders and institutions seeking a better future for Brooklyn. These entities should form a coalition to create a long-term plan to honor Brooklyn’s historic significance and ensure its continued existence through historic commemoration and economic development measures. Brooklyn belongs on the National Register of Historic Places. Such a designation will help the town gain the national attention it deserves and improve its access to funding for preservation initiatives. The Village of Brooklyn should place a moratorium on all future land sales to the railroads to preserve Brooklyn’s remaining physical presence.