Williamsburg is home to a thriving art community and is largely associated with one of its main thoroughfares: Metropolitan and Bedford Avenue. Many ethnic groups have enclaves within Williamsburg, including Germans, Hasidic Jews, Italians, Puerto Ricans, and Dominicans. The neighborhood is also a magnet for young people moving to the city, and is an influential hub for indie rock.
In 1898 Brooklyn itself became one of five boroughs within the City of Greater New York, and its Williamsburg neighborhood was opened to closer connections with the rest of the new city.
Just five years later, the opening of the Williamsburg Bridge in 1903 marked the real turning point in the area's history. The community was then opened up to thousands of upwardly mobile immigrants and second-generation Americans fleeing the overcrowded slum tenements of Manhattan's Lower East Side. Williamsburg itself soon became the most densely populated neighborhood in New York City, which in turn was the most densely populated city in the United States. The novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn addresses a young girl growing up in the tenements of Williamsburg during this era.
The first artists moved to Williamsburg in the 1970s, drawn by the low rents, large spaces available and convenient transportation, one subway stop from Manhattan. This continued through the 1980s and increased significantly in the 1990s as earlier destinations such as SoHo and the East Village became gentrified. The community was small at first, but by 1996 Williamsburg had accumulated an artist population of about 3,000. Williamsburg and Greenpoint are served by a monthly galleries listings magazine, Wagmag.