Brooklyn Standard Union Anniversary 1863-1928
Only the Adventurous Explored Coney Island As Far Back as 1863.
Coney Island, to-day one of the most famous spots in the world, and from
which nearly every other amusement resort has been copied, was nothing but a
peninsular strip in 1863, on which grew long, reedy grass and where myriads
of rabbits played tag.
Sheepshead Bay formed a shallow inlet where fishermen and clam diggers tied
up, much as they do to-day, but in far smaller numbers. The other end of
the "island" was backed up by marsh land where ducks abounded.
Brooklynites knew little if anything about the place, and only the
venturesome, mostly hunters from Gravesend and Flatbush, went there to shoot
"coneys" and ducks and to fish.
One of the stories of how the island got its name is that it was named after
the many "coneys" which ran wild there.
Messrs. EDDY and HART, two New York speculators, were the pioneers,
according to history, who started the development of the spot as a resort.
In 1844 they erected a structure at Coney Island Point, now better known as
Norton's Point, which was the forerunner of a host of other "pavilions" and
they called theirs "The Pavilion."
Some time after this, one or two other hotel ventures were tried with
varying success, and a horse car line, along with a steam train line, were
run to the place.
The real move toward a boom came in 1868 when William ENGEMANN acquired a
considerable section of property, built Ocean Hotel and developed other
portions of the property.
The building of the Culver railroad line, the opening of Ocean Parkway and
the once famous Coney Island Concourse helped the growth along.
With the increase of railroad service the West End, or West Brighton
sectionof the island, became a popular resort.
Much later came the Brighton Beach Hotel, the Oriental and the Manhattan
Beach. The followed the Gravesend Race track, the Coney Island Jockey Club
track at Sheepshead Bay, and the Brighton each Race Track.
Seidl's Orchestra, the Elephant Hotel, the "Gut" and Pain's fireworks were
old-time favorites all within the ken of the midddle aged generation of to-day.
Brooklyn has at present population than was contained in twenty-two states
west of the Mississippi River less than three score and ten years ago.
Brooklyn constructed nearly 152,000 new buildings during the past twenty
years at a cost exceeding $1,130,000,000.
Who Can Imagine Fine Swimming in Bushwick Creek?
It Was Good Sport in the Old Days Hard by the Wallabout.
For the Coney Island fan of to-day, who jams wildly into a flying wedge of
humanity to be whisked in steel trains down to a crowded beach for a
"wetting" in the more or less blue Atlantic the good old days should be a
source of envy.
The poor bather of today who has to swim nearly a mile before he can get to
a point in the water where he will neither kick nor be kicked in the eye
will be pleased to know that "a fine sandy beach extended from the Wallabout
to Bushwick creek "in the good old days" and the section was a favorite
place for fishing and bathing.
"The road along the shore was lined with willow trees. Beyond the crossroads
was the Boulevard Brewery Hotel at Bushwick Avenue and Noll Street."
Boulevard Grove was at Central and Greene Avenues and took in what would now
be a block bounded by those two streets and Evergreen Avenue and Bleecker Street.
Williamsburg Garden was the Elysian Field descried above where the sandy
beach was open to bathing and fishing.
And then there were Schuetzen Park and many other picnic grounds on the
outskirts of the city which have long since become residential districts in
the rapid growth of Brooklyn.
Hard to Vision a Scene of Beauty in Newtown Creek.
Leafy Hills and Nearby Forests With Deer and Wolf Many Years Ago.
To those who know Newtown Creek to-day as a long, oily arm of water, lined
with barges, tugs and other craft chiefly commercial harking back to an
early description of the body of water will give some seemingly impossible
mental pictures. ARMBRUSTER tells us in his book that in the "early days
its shores presented a beautiful sight. In the background were the hills
covered with trees. In the swamps below the stream and its tributaries had
their rise. Broadening on its way, the stream flowed through wooded
elevations and further along through lowlands until it mingled its waters
with the Salt, or East River.
"A mile further up the East River the tides from the east and west met and
the backing up of these tides caused the stream to overflow the marshes; and
this fact led the Indians to name the waterway "Mispat" that is, an
overflowing tidal stream."
It evokes a smile from the reader to know that "in the neighboring forests
the deer and the wolf had their habitations. On the head of the stream was
the village and cornfield of a small band of red men known as the Mispat
tribe. Near its mouth a few adventurous Noormans had established
themselves, clearing the land and trading with the Indians."
On the shores of this sylvan stream sprang up New Arnheim and to his day
Maspeth is still sufficiently well known as a section to remind us of Mispat
the old Newtown Creek.
Transcriber: Mimi Stevens
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