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THE MANY VILLAGES OF BROOKLYN
Brooklyn Standard Union Anniversary Issue 1863-1928
Many Villages Sprang Up and Grew And Welded Together Into Brooklyn;
Their Origins and Histories Traced
From Flatlands to Greenpoint the Story of the Present Borough Is a Record of
Many Individual Communities Each With Distinctive Flavor.
This historical matter was prepared for the Standard Union by "Brooklyn,"
the organ of the Chamber of Commerce.
Annexation has been a fever burning in Brooklyn as it did in ancient Rome.
It is responsible in a large measure for its phenomenal growth alike in
territory and population. The Dutch settlers founded five towns on the soil
now included in the borough: Breuckelen, Flatlands, Flatbush, New Utrecht,
and Boswijk or Bushwick. The English founded Gravesend, and many small
settlements grew into the territory of the original six towns.
Brooklyn Village, Het Veer or the Ferry was one of the earliest villages on
Long Island. Patents for land were issued from 1640 to 1646. The earliest
limits of the Ferry included only a hamlet on both sides of the Ferry road
as far up from Fulton ferry as Henry Street and a few houses on the
waterfront as far south as Poplar Street. The final ferry site was west of
Columbia Street under water, and the shore (?)e ran midway between Front and
(?)ater Streets, as far north as Washington.
Brooklyn Church was a mile and a half inland, along Fulton Street, between
Hoyt and Smith Streets. Breuckelen, however, was applied to the territory
extending from the Wallabout to Gowanus at the time it was patented by Gov.
KIEFT on Dec. 16, 1645. It was named legally in 1646. The patentees built
homes along the road in the settlement of Brooklyn Church. The first land
was bought in what is now Brooklyn in 1636 by William Adrianse BENNETT and
Jacques Bentyne GOWANUS, where 936 acres passed from their Indian owners.
South Brooklyn antedates all other places in Kings County in settlement.
Standing at Third Avenue and Twenty-eighth Street, you are within a stone¹s
throw of the spot where
William Adrianse BENNETT, some 290 years ago built the first house ever
erected in the county by a white man. GOWANUS is derived from the name of
an Indian, Gauwane, who had a corn patch known as Gauwane¹s plantation.
Slow-going Dutch farmers occupied the farms, and introduced the careful
husbandry of their native land. Son succeeded father through the centuries,
and they were encouraged by the large profits they derived from market
gardening. Nevertheless, South Brooklyn began to feel the (?)ge of the
great city of New York about 1835.
Red Hook was built up rapidly and miles of streets were laid out, twelve new
warehouses were added to the Atlantic Docks. A brick mill, covering a lot
50 by 200 feet in size, was built to manufacture cotton (?)dding, and
consumed about 3,000 pounds of raw material a day. At the end of the hook a
new dock and (?)er were built. Van Brunt street was opened and graded from
Ham(?)on Avenue to this pier. Other factories were built and thousands of
dollars invested in distilleries and breweries. The six distilleries
covered many acres, employed 700 persons and consumed grain worth more than
$993,000 annually. They produced more than 500,000 gallons of whiskey. The
Atlantic Basin was enlarged with good results about this time.
Daniel RICHARDS, projector of the Atlantic Docks, petitioned the Com(?)n
Council for permission to open (?)rty-five streets and devised a plan for
the construction of the Gowanus Canal, the purpose among others being to
drain a large tract of land. In 1848 and 1849 no less than 2,100 buildings
were erected, more than 700 of them being in the immediate vicinity of the
Atlantic Docks. The Fulton, South and Ham(?)on ferries were paying well at
a (?)e of one cent. Others to the north were losing at two cents fare.
In 1866, after the close of the Civil War, the Erie dry dock was completed.
A large area of low ground at Red Hook was filled in and a large number of
people came. Jeremiah P. JOHNSON and William (?)ARD reclaimed more than a
million square feet of submerged land and gave it a high market value.
In 1867, the dredging of the Gowanus Canal was provided for by legislative
act. Edwin HUNT con(?)lled the HUNT estate, which (?)ned the waterfront
from Thirth- (?)th to Fifty-fourth Streets. He could neither develop the
property nor sell it. After his death it was acquired in 1905 by the Bush
Terminal Company. The water front form Twenty-eighth Street to Sixty- (?)h
street was, indeed, a dreary waste of green water and red sand. The first
real impetus toward the development of this territory came in 1889 when the
Thirty-ninth Street and Third Avenue horse cars stopped at Twenty-fifth
Street. In 1892 the (?)t trolley road in Kings County was built in South
Brooklyn. It ran from the Thirty-ninth Street ferry (?)ng Second Avenue to
Sixty-fifth (?)et to Third Avenue, to Bay Ridge Avenue and on. At about the
same time the Nassau electric road entered the territory and began a lively
war for business. New trolley lines were opened in all directions.
Brooklyn also issued improvement bonds to the value of $650,000 for the
improvement of the Eighth Ward. This money, to be repaid by property owners
in ten annual installments, was to be used for the (?)ing, grading and
developing of (?)ets. This is the only time in which the city has loaned
its credit (?) the benefit of a single ward. In this case the experiment
turned out well for everyone concerned.
South Brooklyn was the name applied to that part of the Eighth Ward lying
west and south of Greenwood Cemetery. Sixtieth Street marked its southern
boundary, as it came to be known, and as it is known today is bounded by a
line running through Fifteenth Street, from Prospect Park to Gowanus Bay on
the north; thence along the waterfront, from Gowanus Bay to Sixty-fifth
Street to Greenwood Cemetery and Prospect Park West.
Windsor Terrace, southwest of Prospect Park, is a little residential kingdom
and practically forms a distinct section by itself. Although it belongs to
the Flatbush section geographically, it would rightly be included in South
The Wallabout was the second European settlement. In 1637 Joris JANSEN
(Rapelje) bough 344 acres at the Wallabout, after having passed several
years at Fort Orange (Albany). His daughter, Sarah DE RAPELJE, admitted to
have been the first child born of European parents within the limits of New
Netherland, passed most of her life on the Wallabout. Breuckelen, called
Brooklyn by the English in 1698, led the five Dutch towns in wealth and
population. A town meeting held at Breuckelen in 1692-1693, resolved that
"1. All the lands and woods after Bedford and Cripplebush over the hills to
the path of New Lotts shall belong to the inhabitants and freeholders of the
Gowanus, beginning from Jacob BREWER and so to the uttermost bounds of the
limits of New Utrecht.
"2. And all the lands and woods that lyes betwixt the above said path and
the highway from the ferry towards Flatbush shall belong to the freeholders
and inhabitants of Bedford and Cripplebush.
"3. And all the land that lyes in common after the Gowanus, betwixt the
limits and bounds of Flatbush and New Utrecht, shall belong to the
freeholders and inhabitants of Breuckelen, Fred Neck (Frederick LUBBERTSEN¹s
Neck), and the ferry and the Wallabout."
Bedford Corners was founded in the administration of Gov. LOVELACE, about 1670.
Bushwick extended roughly from the Wallabout to Newtown Creek, and it was a
fertile belt of about 5,000 acres, with waterfronts of ample extent along
the East River and Newtown Creek. In 1638, most of the land was bought from
the Indians, but it grew without being patented. It was Boswijk and
Bosswyck. It grew rapidly. Within a few years the countryside was dot-
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Williamsburgh was named for Col. WILLIAMS, an engineer in the United States
army, by whom it was surveyed. Richard M. WOODHULL, a New York merchant and
visionary, bought thirteen acres for a village near the eastern terminus of
the Grand Street ferry. He laid out the property in city lots, but they
proved too far from the business center of New York. His interest was sold
out by the sheriff in 1811 on a judgement in favor of James J. ROOSEVELT.
James H. MAXWELL, son-in-law of WOODHULL, bought Williamsburgh, but lacked
the money to continue his title to the property, which was sold once more by
the sheriff. Yet WOODHULL and MAXWELL are revered as the founders of the
city. Thomas MORRELL, of Newtown, bought twenty-eight acres, and associated
with James HAZARD, started a development, with Grand Street, Manhattan, as
the dividing line. They obtained a ferry franchise, to run from Grand
Street, Manhattan, to Grand Street, Bushwick, and called the stretch of
territory between South First and North Second Streets Yorktown, but the
fast growth of Williamsburgh spread that name over the territory from
Wallabout to Bushwick Creek, Brooklyn¹s famous Eastern District.
Williamsburgh was incorporated in April 1827, and its chartered limits
coincided with the present Thirteenth and Fourteenth wards of Brooklyn.
Bushwick Avenue was the boundary between Williamsburg and Bushwick Village.
By 1845 Williamsburg became a city of 45,000 inhabitants. Its history is a
succession of real estate booms and bubbles, which continued form many years.
Het Dorp was the social center of Bushwick, the place where Peter STUYVESANT
stood at the time he called the neighborhood Boswijk. The schoolhouse and
the church and graveyard were there, at a point between North Second and
Het Kivis Padt, or the Cross Roads, was the name of a settlement at Flushing
and Bushwick Avenues.
Het Strand stood on the shore of the East River, but was inconsiderable in size.
Greenpoint at one time was called Green Hook. The name was first applied
only to a small point of land projecting into the East River, while the
large district bounded by Newtown Creek, Bushwick Creek and the East River,
now called Greenpoint, was known as Cherry Point.
In 1835 Greenpoint was still farm land occupied by only eight farms. John
A. MESEROLE lived on a farm which comprised almost all of the territory
lying west of Franklin Street. He made the first map. Jacob HAY, another
farmer, owned most of Hunters Point. The first industry was carried on by
slaves, sent there to cut timber to be used for building ships by the
merchants of New York. Dirk WALCOTTSON built the first house in 1655.
Shipbuilders came, mostly from the Twenty-second Ward of old New York.
Slave labor was employed in the shipyards, and the growing population soon
drove the farmers away. Meserole Avenue was the first street. It ran
through the meadows and was used as a road. The first houses were built on
the MESEROLE farm in 1837. Franklin Street followed and manufacturers were
introduced. The inhabitants attended the old Dutch church at Bushwick
Avenue and Humboldt Street. Gov. STUYVESANT sent a teacher there in 1650.
Heziah BLISS, an early steamboat builder, was the first to develop its
modern growth. He was associated with Dr. Eliphalet NOTT, president of
Union College, for forty years, and engaged in building steamboats.
They started the Greenpoint ferry. Shipbuilding was introduced by Eckford
WEBB in 1850 and became the greatest local industry. BLISS tried to move
the navy yard to Greenpoint, but failed, and lost heavily by the speculation
it entailed. In 1855, Williamsburg became part of Brooklyn, with Bushwick
Village, which coincided with the Fifteenth and Sixteenth wards, while
Greenpoint is the Seventeenth Ward.
Flatbush was bought from the Canarsie Indians and settled by the Dutch in
1630, as nearly as known. It was called Midwout (Middle of the Woods).
Gov. STUYVESANT issued a town patent in 1651. Gov. NICHOLLS issued an
English patent in 1667 when the present name came into use. Oostwood, New
Lots, was thrown in by the Rockaway Indians for good measure, and it was
settled in 1670, patent being granted in 1677. Thomas DONGAN granted a new
patent in 1685. Flatbush was occupied by Col. DONOP with Hessian troops on
Aug. 22, 1776, and was the scene of fighting between the patriots and the
invaders in the Battle of Long Island. After the Revolution it became the
county seat of Kings County, but in a fire in 1832 the records were
transferred to Brooklyn. Greenfield or Parkville, stared in 1852 and
Windsor Terrace founded the same year. Consolidation with Brooklyn came in
1873 as the Twenty-ninth Ward.
Vanderveer Park comprises the old Vanderveer Farm, which today would be
bounded by Canarsie Lane, East Thirty-eighth Street, Albany Avenue and
Avenue D. The greater part of the farm was sold in 1892.
New Lots was the Dutch name of the populous suburb of East New York. The
name was given to a cluster of houses which sprang up east of Flatbush. In
1740 two school districts were created, one taking the name of Old Town
District No. 1; the other New Lots District No. 2. Until 1823 the church
was in Old Town, but that year New Lots built a meeting house. The town of
New Lots was created in 1852. It consisted of three distinct settlements,
East New York, New Lots and Cypress Hills. In 1835 the long tenure of old
farms was broken, and Abraham H. VAN WYCK mapped out the first building lots
in 1836. In 1835 John E. PITKIN, wealthy Connecticut merchant and friend of
Horace GREELEY, conceived the idea of founding a city to rival New York. He
got out a map in which the name of East New York first occurs.
Brownsville was started by Charles S. BROWN in 1866. In 1884 Brownsville
and East New York were annexed to Brooklyn as the Twenty-sixth Ward.
Eastern Parkway was north of the old city line. One section faces Eastern
Parkway on the south, between New York and Kingston Avenues, and is bisected
by Brooklyn Avenue. It stands on the highest ridge in Brooklyn. It fronts
Eastern parkway and Prospect Park for quite a distance. It terminates at
the plaza, forming the boundary to Prospect Park. The neighborhood was
restricted to detached dwelling houses until 1910.
Prospect Park South lies between Coney Island Avenue and the Coney Island
Extension of the Kings County Elevated Railway. It was reached by five
trolley lines at the time it was opened by Dean ALVORD in 1899-1900 and was
of the most up-to-date character. Every high class street improvement was
introduced, including parkways and park plots.
New Utrecht, the town, was settled by the Dutch moving out from Brooklyn
about 1639. Anthony Jansen VAN SALES bought land which was confirmed by
patent dated May 27, 1643. It lay south of Sixty-first street and ran from
the Bay to Ninth Avenue on Fort Hamilton Avenue; thence to Twenty-second
Avenue in an irregular line; thence to Gravesend Bay. It included the
villages of New Utrecht, Fort Hamilton, and Yellow Hook, named for the color
of its soil, and now known as Bay Ridge. Jacques CORTELYOU was the foremost
of the founders, who were all free farmers. Nicasius DE SALLE built the
first house in 1657.
Fort Hamilton, built on land, stands on a bluff called by the Indians Nyack
which was occupied by the house of Denyse DANYSE, Abraham BENNETT and Simon
CORTELYOU before the Revolution. They were shelled by the British ships in
August, 1776. Fort Lafayette was built on Hendrick¹s Reef and was first
called Fort Diamond. Fort Hamilton was begun in 1824 and finished in 1832.
There was a ferry to Staten Island called Denyse¹s Ferry at an early date.
Bay Ridge was the name chose for Yellow Hook about 1850. A group of
residents formed the Ovington Village Association. James WEIR, florist,
suggested the new name. It applied to a territory running from Sixty-first
Street, the New Utrecht town line to about Eighty-sixth Street, and to
Stewart Avenue, now Sixth Avenue and New York Bay. Joseph PERRY built the
The Bay Ridge Park Improvement Association controlled about 3,000 acres from
Fort Hamilton Avenue to Fourteenth Avenue, and from Ovington Avenue
southward to Eighty-sixth Street. The company opened Bay Ridge Avenue to
Thirteenth Avenue, and Thirteenth Avenue for its entire length from Ovington
Avenue and Eighty-sixth Street.
Bath Beach in its early days was know as Bath Village until about 1889, when
it was changed to Bath Beach, and throned upon the grassy plateau backed by
woodlands. It was originally New Utrecht Beach, located between the
waterfront and Eighty-sixth Street, DeBruyn¹s lane (now Twentieth Avenue)
and Bennett¹s Lane (now Sixteenth Avenue). It contained fine homes and very
fine clubs. John Lott NOSTRAND was its wealthiest resident fifty years ago.
John I. VOORHEES lived into the nineties at Bath Beach. John Scott NOSTRAND
and Archibald YOUNG were the first to develop the farms into building lots
Bensonhurst bears the name of old Robert BENSON, who owned the farm east of
the village and for years refused to let Bath Beach grow in that direction.
He kept his land in farms and potato patches while the city grew up all
around him. James D.D. LYNCH, a speculator, with millions at his command,
was able in 1886-1889 to buy the farms of Robert BENSON, Egbert BENSON,
Margaret BENSON, Richard V. BENSON, Samuel SMITH, whose name lives in Smith
Street; Erhardt SCHMIDT, Ella WYCKOFF, Robert MCGAW and Rebecca VAN
SICKLEN. Robert BENSON and his homestead was held out while he and his wife
lived. It is now Bensonhurst Park. Among the first to build were Mrs.
Benjamin P. KISSAM, sister-in-law of William H. VANDERBILT; Charles F.
WINGATE, Cornelius FERGUESSON, supervisor of the town; Don M. DICKINSON, a
postmaster-general of the United States, and Thomas A. RITSON, general
manager of the American Express Company.
Herr Antony Jansen VAN SALES, an exile, obtained from Gov. William KIEFT in
1643 a grant of land he had bought from Penawitz, sachem of the Canarsie
Indians, which lay partly in Gravesend and partly in New Utrecht. The
village of Unionville stood on this tract in later years. Robert PENNOY
obtained a patent for a tract lying between Antony JANSEN¹s and that of the
Gravesend settlers in November 1645, while Lady MOODY obtained her patent on
Gravesend on Dec. 19, 1645. Bensonhurst occupies land included in each of
Antony JANSEN sold his farm to Nicholas STILLWELL in 1660. STILLWELL sold
it to Francis DE BRUYNEN, and its name was changed from Turk¹s Plantation to
Bruynenburg (Brown¹s Hill). Jan Jansen VER RYN and Judge CROWHOVEN became
later owners, and Judge CROWHOVEN¹s daughter, Maria, became Mrs. Egbert
BENSON. Jan JANSEN and Batent JOESTEN sold their share to Albert GOERTEN,
whose children were the first to use the family name of VOORHEES, so far as
Mrs. Egbert BENSON inherited the property on the death of Judge Nicholas
COWENHOVEN in the year of 1793.
Blythebourne was opened for development about 1890 by Patrick FLYNN, Lyle
SANDS and E. LITCHFIELD, one of the family owning the mansion in Prospect
Park. He took the name from the ancestral estates in Scotland. The
property lay between New Utrecht Avenue and Eleventh Avenue, between
Fifty-fifth and Sixtieth Streets.
Borough Park, first called West Brooklyn, was developed in about 1890 by men
from Philadelphia, who controlled the old Brooklyn Bath and West End
Railroad. Mr. LITCHFIELD was president of this railroad and George J.
ALLEN, manager. It was subsequently purchased by William H. REYNOLDS, who
developed it and built some five hundred houses there. At an early date it
had six churches, a school, a clubhouse and a theatre. It lies between
Eighteenth Avenue and New Utrecht Avenue between Fort Hamilton Avenue and
Mapelton was opened at about 1890 by Murphy & McCormack, Manhattan cotton
brokers. The property extended from Twenty-second Avenue to Eighteenth
Avenue; from Cowenhoven Lane, Fifty-seventh Street to Sixtieth Street.
Bath Junction was opened by Jere JOHNSON about 1888. It extends from New
Utrecht Avenue to Eleventh Avenue, and from Fifty-eighth to Sixtieth Streets.
Bay Ridge Park was opened about 1898 by Frederick JOHNSON and Frederick C.
COCHEU. It extends from Fourteenth Avenue to Eighth Avenue; from Ovington
Avenue to Eighty-sixth Street for a part of its width, and to Seventy-ninth
Street for the remainder.
Lefferts Park was opened by Effingham H. NICHOLS in 1890. It extends from
Sixty-third to Sixty-eighth Streets, between New Utrecht and Thirteenth Avenues.
Dyker Beach Park was laid out in the nineties. It lies between Seventh
Avenue and Bay Eighth Street, and the waterfront to Eighty-sixth Street, and
contains 144 acres. The frontage on the Bay is 1,780 feet. The Dyker
Heights Golf Club was organized in 1897 to meet the needs of a fashionable
colony. The first officers were: President, Timothy L. WOODRUFF; secretary,
Norman S. DIKE; treasurer, Frederick A. WEBSTER; captain, Daniel CHAUNCEY.
Dyker Heights is east of Fort Hamilton and overlooks Dyker Meadow, the Dyker
Meadow Golf Links and the grounds of the Marine and Field Club.
It extends from Seventy-ninth Street to Eighty-sixth Street, and from Tenth
to Twelfth Avenues. It adjoins Bay Ridge Park. Walter JOHNSON developed
this land into highly restricted building plots in 1895.
New Utrecht Terrace lies just east of Dyker Heights.
New Utrecht Village was on Kings Highway, also known as Main Street, at
Eighteenth Avenue, just north of Bath Beach. The name was changed to Van
Pelt Manor about 1890. Teunis VAN PELT bought land there about 1664, and
the house he built (acquired in 1924 by the city with a plot 200 x 120 feet,
upon which it is located) remains a landmark, while the church is one of the
oldest Dutch edifices in Brooklyn. The old road, New Utrecht Lane now
Eighteenth Avenue, passes in front of the house.
In 1898 the town of New Utrecht was annexed to Brooklyn as its Thirtieth Ward.
Gravesend was settled by the English, headed by Lady Deborah MOODY,
fugitives from Massachusetts, in 1643. In 1838 a free road was begun to
Flatbush. It was widened to 100 feet in 1875 and called Gravesend Avenue.
The Coney Island Plank Road, laid out in 1850, was long the principal
carriage road to the shore. Ocean Parkway, begun in 1874, and completed in
1880, is five and one half miles long and 210 feet wide. Horse racing was
introduced in 1868, with the completion of the Prospect Park Fair Grounds
Association. Tracks were laid out at Parkville, Ocean Parkway and at
Sheepshead Bay by the Coney Island Jockey Club in 1880, the Brooklyn Jockey
Club at Gravesend, and the Brighton Beach Racing Association at Coney Island.
Gravesend Village lies just north of Coney Island, where a ten acre square
retains the contour of the stickage built in 1643 by Lady MOODY. The
original layout of Gravesend Village was so constructed as to serve as a
protection against the Indians. The Gravesend Avenue trolley line bisects
it from the north to south, and the Neck road crosses it at right angles,
making four equal squares. Lady MOODY, the founder, divided each of the
four squares into ten square sections, to provide for the forty original
patentees, who farmed the land outside. Gravesend was originally one of the
three ports of entry on Long Island.
Gravesend became the Thirty-first Ward of Brooklyn.
Sea Gate goes back to 1892 for modern development. At that time Joseph P.
PUELS, William P. RAE, Alrick H. MAN, James T. NELSON and Cornelius
MACARDELL bought from William ZIEGLER the western end of Coney Island,
commonly known as Nortons Point. The tract contained 134 1/2 acres of
upland, less nine and one-half acres, taken for railroad and lighthouse
purposes. It is bounded on the south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by
the entrance to New York harbor, and on the north by Gravesend Bay. It lies
within the eight-mile circle form the City Hall in New York, and is six and
one half miles from the Brooklyn Borough Hall in Brooklyn. At the time of
the purchase the land was extending westward at a rate of several hundred
feet a year, owing to the working of the sea. It was felt that this
increase would continue until the land extended out into the swift channel
to the harbor which would arrest its growth. The name, Sea Gate, was
adopted in 1894, and the Sea Gate Club was organized in 1895.
The Atlantic Yacht Club erected a new building and moved its old clubhouse
from Bay Ridge to Sea Gate, to occupy a large site on Gravesend Bay in 1897.
About $450,000 was spent on improvements by the Norton Point Land Company,
the developers. It finally included 175 acres, with ten miles of streets.
The property was taken over Jan. 1, 1901, by the Sea Gate Association of
Property Owners, which became the owner of the beach and streets, something
unparalleled by any development association in the neighborhood of New York.
This association took over the government of Sea Gate, so that about its
only duty to the city of New York consisted of paying taxes. William P. Rae
& Co. were the selling agents for the lots, which advanced in price rapidly
owing to the exclusive nature of the settlement, shut off, as it is by a
gate and fence, which excludes every non-resident without permission from
In those days Coney Island stretched a protecting arm far out toward Sandy
Hook, and made Gravesend Bay a perfect harbor. Real estate developers
filled in the marshes to the south and east of the old village and covered
the ground with homes.
Coney Island derives its name from coney and cony, English words for rabbit,
still used in law, and rhyming with bunny and funny. It was a pasturage in
the days of Lady MOODY and begun to be a resort about a hundred years ago.
The Coney Island Boardwalk marks the twentieth century development of Coney
Island and Brighton Beach and the beginning in the creation of a greater
Sheepshead Bay, as recently as 1875 was the home of farmers and fishermen,
with a few lonesome roadhouse keepers. It is bounded on the north by the
Neck road; on the south by the bay; on the west by Gravesend village. In
this large area there were only thirty families in 1876. The Methodist
church was organized in the 50¹s, the present edifice dating from 1884. The
Roman Catholic Church of St. Mark¹s is about as old, the present edifice
dating from 1885.
Joseph P. DAY has been responsible for the later day development of the
Sheepshead Bay section, a large portion of which is now known as "New"
Flatbush, as well as for the intensive development of Manhattan Beach and of
the section of Brighton Beach most closely adjacent to Manhattan Beach.
It is now about ten years since Mr. DAY formed a syndicate which acquired a
large amount of property at Manhattan Beach, including the Manhattan Beach
Baths and the site of the one-time Manhattan Beach Hotel and the Oriental Hotel.
Mr. DAY then formed another syndicate, which acquired the Brighton Beach
Baths. The bathing pavilion has since been transformed into one of the
largest and most popular in the world. The company by which the Brighton
Beach Bath is controlled, recently subdivided, improved and sold all the
property lying back of the baths and extending from the new Brighton Beach
boulevard, at the head of the Coney Island boardwalk, as extended, to
Neptune Avenue, from the line of the Brighton Beach subway and L to the line
of the abandoned Manhattan Beach branch of the L.I.R.R. A number of new
apartment houses and multi-family dwellings have been erected on this large
tract in recent months.
Another transformation was the acquirement, sale and intensive development
of the Sheepshead Bay Harkness Estate, which for many years was the site of
the Sheepshead Bay Race Track, by a syndicate formed by Mr. DAY, Charles F.
NOYES, Max N. NATONSON and others. At the conclusion of the sale of this
property it was announced that the syndicate had cleared almost $3,000,000
on this operation.
Manhattan Beach will always justly boat of being the field of the initial
conquest made by Gertrude EDERLE the first of her sex to swim the English
Channel. Entered as a "dark horse" by the New York Women¹s Swimming
Association in the International Long Distance Races held in August 1922,
Miss EDERLE emerged the winner over fifty-two contestants, thereby winning
the Joseph P. Day cup. The contest, the first of its kind ever held in this
country, was over a distance of three and one-half miles, the course being
laid from Breezy Point at Manhattan Beach to Brighton Beach.
By defeating such famous competitors as Helen WAINWRIGHT and Hilda JAMES,
English champion, Miss EDERLE won for her association the initial contest
for the Joseph P. Day trophy, a replica of which was presented to her
personally by Mr. DAY.
Kensington Park lies between Parkville and Kensington on the Ocean Parkway.
It was developed by the Morris Building Company which took over sixty acres
lying between Eighteenth Avenue on the south, Avenues E and F on the north,
Coney Island Avenue on the east and Forty-seventh Street on the west.
Flatlands antedates Brooklyn by a few months as the first Dutch settlement
in Kings County. For on June 16, 1637, Andres HUDDEN and Wolfert Garretze
VON COWENHOVEN bought from the Canarsie Indians "the westernmost of the
three flats (prairies) they called Kastenu." They were settlers, not
speculators, and called their place Achervelt. The first house was
palisaded and a settlement grew around it. In 1661 it was empowered to
elect three magistrates. In the charter granted Oct. 4, 1667, it was called
"Amersfoort", alias Flatlands." In 1799 Flatlands was recognized officially
as a town by the State of New York. Its official existence ended Jan. 1,
1896, when it became the Thirty-second Ward of Brooklyn. Flatlands grew
slowly. In 1634 the church was separated from Flatbush, and a church was
completed in 1663. In 1686 they imported a bell from Holland. In 1848 the
present church was erected.
Canarsie Point, with its rich meadows was a bone of boundary disputes among
the early settlers of Flatlands and Flatbush. It continues a resort, a
haven for boatmen and fishermen from Jamaica Bay. It occupies a point of
land bounded on three sides by water Paerdegat Bay into the southwest.
Jamaica Bay on the south and Frost Creek Basin on the east. Canarsie Beach
Park is on the bay.
Home Crest, the Lindens and Oak Crest were on the mainland back from
Rugby was founded about 1898 by Wood, Harmon Company of Boston. They bought
the DITMAS farm, the MC NULTY farm, the RYERSON farm, the SCHLEIDER farm,
two WILLIAMSON farms, two SCHENCK farms, and three REMSON farms, or 500
acres, for $800,000 the average price being $1,600 per acre. The Utica
Avenue trolley line was constructed about this time and furnished timely
transportation. The "hub of Rugby" was bounded by East Broadway, East
Fifty-third Street, Canarsie Road. It is intersected by Utica, Vernon and
Troy Avenues, and by the streets from East Forty-fifth to East Fifty-second
COWENHOVEN farm was likewise developed in the Flatlands district.
Canarsie Beach Park just west of Canarsie Landing faces Jamaica Bay.
Fiske Terrace is on Ocean Avenue.
The Lefferts Estate property lies east of Prospect Park between Flatbush and
Bedford Avenues and between Bedford and Rogers Avenues. The cross streets
are Midwood and Clarkson. The first is two blocks from the Willink entrance
to the park and the latter close to the Ocean Avenue entrance. W.A.A. BROWN
conducted much of the development with success.
Bergen¹s Island became a small Coney Island and the name changed to Bergen
Beach. It was neglected in later years, but is now again being developed
into a home center. Bergen Beach was acquired by Percy G. WILLIAMS, former
owner of the Orpheum Theatre, and Thomas ADAMS, Jr. former owner of the
American Chicle Company. Recently this property was sold to the present
Flatlands Neck was the name of the section of the town that lies between
Jamaica Bay, New Lots and Flatbush.
In the Revolution, the British did not interrupt the church services in
spite of the patriotism of the preacher and flock. They naturally took the
live stock, the grain and produce, but interfered very slightly with the
Flatlands was the last suburb of Brooklyn to feel the magic influence of its
growth, but it is a quarter of a century since the old farms were placed on
the market and trolleys and real estate transactions began to disturb its calm.
It was annexed to Brooklyn 1896 as the Thirty-second Ward, completing the
How NEW LOTS Got Its Name
New Lots got its name from the opening of new land in the extreme of
Flatbush a number of years prior to 1863.
It was first known as New Flatbush Lots and finally became, in the typical
American fashion for brevity "New Lots."
Other interesting names were those of the Bedford section of which there
were neighborhoods known as Malboneville, Carsville and Weeksville. Malbone
Street live for many years as a memorial to the o (?) district only to
become the present day Empire Boulevard.
"Firsts" in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn town and Brooklyn village united to become Brooklyn city under its
first charter in 1834.
Brooklyn¹s first church was the Dutch Reformed Church, erected in Flatbush
Brooklyn¹s first resident physician was Dr. BARBARIN, in 1822.
Brooklyn¹s first Presbyterian church was dedicated in 1822.
The first Brooklyn city directory was published in 1822 by Alden SPOONER.
The first fire company was organized in Brooklyn in 1785.
The first school was started in Brooklyn in 1661.
William Adriense BENNETT built the first house ever erected in Brooklyn in
1636-1638. It was near the present site of Third Avenue and Twenty-eighth Street.
Transcriber: Mimi Stevens
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