Bushwick, historically the town in which Public School 86 is located, hired its first school master in 1662. Public School 86 was built about 230 years later and is located within the historic boundaries of the town of Bushwick near the present boundary line between Brooklyn and Queens. Bushwick is one of the earliest colonial settlements in New York, first occupied in the 1630s. One of the original six towns in Brooklyn, it remained a rural farming area until the mid-nineteenth century. The site of the center of the township, the village of Bushwick, is the present intersection of Bushwick Avenue, Old Woodpoint Road, Metropolitan Avenue, Maspeth Avenue, and Humboldt Street, which is northwest of Public School 86.
During the 1850s Bushwick began to lose its rural, agricultural landscape. large members of Germans immigrated to New York following the political upheavals in central Europe in 1848. Many settled in Bushwick and began the development of Bushwick's most famous local industry, brewing. The area roasted a number of features attractive to the brewing industry: an abundant water supply, soil suitable for aging cellars, and convenient water and rail transportation. Henry R. Stiles, the notable Brooklyn historian, wrote in 1870: “That quarter of Brooklyn, the Eastern District ... has been for some time the center of the beverage manufacturing interest in the Metropolitan District. Here are located some of the largest breweries in existence in the country. Surrounded by a population almost exclusively Germans. A second wave of development began after the construction of the elevated railroad along Myrtle Avenue in 1888, making the area an attractive alternative to congested downtown Brooklyn and lower Manhattan. The present architectural character of the neighborhood of Public School 86 dates from this second phase of development, a twenty- year period between 1890 and 1910. Public School 86 was built to serve the community that settled in the area during this second period of residential growth.
Public School 86 is important because it is the earliest of his extant public schools to draw upon the design of Boys' High School, and because Public School 86 itself became a successful prototype for later, much larger school buildings, in and around our neighborhood. At Boys' High School, the major elements of the main facade along Marcy Avenue are soaring end towers and a central section characterized by a monumental ix-story high bay which breaks the cornice line and terminates in an expansive gable that embraces a full -story high round arch.