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THE EASTERN DISTRICT of BROOKLYN
As laid out by a commission appointed in 1704, consisted of a main road and a number of
branch roads, but all were parts of the Kings Highway.
The main road ran from the Brooklyn Ferry, after having passed Brooklyn Church, the road
forked, one arm leading to Jamaica, and the other to Flatbush and Flatlands.
This main road was called the Ferry Road.
The one branch, the Jamaica Road, the other the Flatbush Road, they are now known as
Fulton Street and Flatbush Avenue.
The branch roads or feeder-lines, were:
Red Hook Lane reaching to the Red Hook Gowanus Lane, a former Indian trail,
running along the line of Fifth Avenue to Gowanus Cove, to Yellow Hook and the Narrows;
The Big Lane or Church Lane,
running from the Flatbush branch to Flatlands Neck;
The Little Lane or LETT'S Lane,
running from the Flatbush Road to Canarsie;
The road still known as Kings Highway,
running from the Flatbush Road to DENYSE'S Ferry at New Utrecht;
The Clove Road, a former Indian trail,
leading from Bedford Corners to the salt meadows on Jamaica Bay and another arm to
The Cripplebush Lane,
running from Bedford Corners to the Cripplebush settlement,
(this was extended in 1805 to the Newtown Road thus connecting it with the Bushwick Cross Road);
The new Bushwick Road,
running from the Jamaica branch (Fulton Street) to the Bushwick Road, the latter ran from
Bushwick village and Newtown Creek and along the Kuij Kuit Lane on the Williamsburgh shore.
What is still known as Kings Highway had already been taken off the official map and the road
was to be discontinued. Only the efforts of then Borough President RIEGELMANN, who saved this
important thoroughfare from being cut up and being replaced by street forming square blocks.
Whoever knows Kings Highway will appreciate the importance of that act. A great injury to
Brooklyn has thus been averted.
The old roads were the only way of communication between the various villages. The entire
road system of Long Island was influenced by a little creek which cut across Manhattan Island,
which has long been filled and is forgotten. This creek ran from the west shore in the
vicinity of Christopher Street through the Collect pond, about where the Tombs are located
now, to the neighborhood of Peck Slip on the East River. On west shore the creek was known
as Bestevaar Kil and on the east as the Old Kil.
The Indians of Manhattan Island had removed to the land between North River and the Hackensack
River. On Lucini's map of 1648, this tract between the two rivers is called Isola Manhattan,
i.e., the island of Manhattans. Some of the Manhattan band had removed to Nyack in the
town of New Utrecht on Long Island. These bands all belonged to the tribe known as the
Easterners and at certain times they would come together for the purpose of holding a tribal
council. Their old council place had been at Bedford.
The Indians crossed the North River and followed the creek across Manhattan Island and then
crossed the East River to the foot of Fulton Street, Brooklyn. Here the Indian trail led to
the council place and to New Utrecht.
When the Dutch established the ferry landings, they simply followed the example of the Indians
and rowed their boats from Peck Slip, New York, to Fulton Street, Brooklyn. Thus the point was
fixed to which all roads lead, which have been constructed on the island.
The old creek, the Indians, the Dutch rule are no more, Fulton Ferry itself is gone, still the
foundation of the road system remains and its influence will always remain. The cross-island
roads, naturally never led directly to the ferry, yet they were the feeders for the main roads
Every vehicle coming from any place upon Long Island, bound for N.Y.C. and every vehicle coming
from N.Y.C. and destined for any place on the island had to come to this point or else start off
After the farmer wagon came the stage coach, followed by the steam railroad, the horse car, the
Elevated Road and the trolley car.
The steam rail road could not run through the populated part of the town to Fulton Ferry, when
the Brooklyn Bridge was built, the starting point was transferred; the Long Island Rail Road was
forced some sixty years ago to divert its line to Hunters Point, the Pennsylvania Depot on Manhattan
Island has since become the terminus of the Long Island Rail Road.
These changes have come, but the roads had been firmly established, the arteries of communication
remain the same. The means of traveling have been changing in rapid succession.
Fulton Ferry has replaced by Jamaica as the point to which all roads lead.
All means of communication through Brooklyn, the trolley lines, "L" roads, subways, automobile roads,
etc., have become shuttle lines between the old and the new paths to the island.
The only lines of the highway still remaining are the main line;
Fulton Street and its twin road, Atlantic Avenue, which was especially constructed for the railroad.
The town of New Utrecht, the road has been destroyed.
The Bushwick Road has been replaced by the twin roads Bushwick Avenue and Broadway.
At the shore end of this road a block house was built, the central point of the settlement.
To this point the roads led,
also to the row boat ferry of 1797,
the Grand Street ferry of 1817,
the Peck Slip ferry of 1835.
From this point the stages started off, the horse cars, the "L" trains and the trolleys.
The Williarnsburgh Bridge produced here the same effect as did the Brooklyn Bridge on the
Fulton Ferry, the starting point was slightly changed but the roads had been firmly established.
The Clove Road and Cripplebush Road, feeder lines, together have been replaced by Bedford Avenue.
The turnpike roads were started in the first decade of the 19th Century. They were good dirt roads,
the rocks had been removed from the road bed, and holes had been filled in, still in the early
spring days, when the frost came out of the ground, they were almost impassable.
In the early 50's the plank roads were built and they appeared to be a great improvement over the
turnpike roads. But the planks rotted quickly and the plank roads were soon in a dilapidated state.
The share holders lost their entire investments.
The Jamaica and Brooklyn Plank Road Company was formed on May 21, 1850 and the planks were laid
upon the old turnpike road. In 1865 the tracks of the horse railroad were laid upon the same road.
The two companies consolidated in 1880 and became known as the Jamaica & Brooklyn Rail Road Company.
Pent roads were roads with gates or bars which separated the different farms through which these
The main farmer's roads were the; Brooklyn & Newtown Turnpike and the Brooklyn & Jamaica Turnpike.
East New York was little more than a name.
Even Dutchtown was largely a wilderness.
As the 13th Ward gradually developed into a manufacturing district, the 19th Ward began to fill up
with the greater part of its wealthy citizens.
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