Brooklyn, IL


Brooklyn (popularly known as Lovejoy), is a village located in St. Clair County, Illinois, United States. Located just north of East St. Louis, Illinois, it is the oldest black town in the United States. It is named for Elijah P. Lovejoy (1802-1837), an abolitionist from St. Louis.

In 1829, led by "Mother" Priscilla Baltimore, a group of eleven families composed of both fugitive and quasi-free Blacks fled slavery in St. Louis, Missouri, crossed the Mississippi River, and established a maroon community in the wilderness of southwestern Illinois. In 1830, five white abolitionists platted the land and created an unincorporated nearly all-black town. In 1873, the virtually all-black town was incorporated as a village. In 1886, the overwhelming African American majority gained complete political control, which initiated a process of white flight and soon converted Brooklyn into an all-black town. As of the 2000 census, the village had a total population of 676.


Brooklyn is located at 38°39'24" North, 90°9'55" West (38.656800, -90.165412).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 2.2 km2 (0.8 mi2). 2.2 km2 (0.8 mi2) of it is land and none of it is covered by water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 676 people, 267 households, and 166 families residing in the village. The population density was 310.7/km2 (801.9/mi2). There were 346 housing units at an average density of 159.0/km2 (410.5/mi2). The racial makeup of the village was 0.59% White, 98.67% African American, 0.15% Native American, 0.00% Asian, 0.00% Pacific Islander, 0.00% from other races, and 0.59% from two or more races. 0.44% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 267 households out of which 27.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 16.9% were married couples living together, 39.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.8% were non-families. 36.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 25.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.53 and the average family size was 3.34.

In the village the population was spread out with 30.3% under the age of 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 21.9% from 25 to 44, 19.2% from 45 to 64, and 18.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 68.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 60.8 males.

The median income for a household in the village was $16,630, and the median income for a family was $30,994. Males had a median income of $24,375 versus $21,108 for females. The per capita income for the village was $7,944. 48.5% of the population and 28.2% of families were below the poverty line. 33.5% of those under the age of 18 and 74.0% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Notable residents

  • Hamiet Bluiett, saxophonist (b. 1940)


  • Cha-Jua, Sundiata Keita (2000). America's First Black Town: Brooklyn, Illinois, 1830-1915. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press.