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Brooklyn On Line

A Short Brooklyn History

History of Breuckelen, Kings County & Brooklyn

By soyamaven@aol.com

   A quick history of Brooklyn

   In 1646, the Village of Breuckelen was authorized by the Dutch West
   India Company and became the first municipality in what is now New 
   York State (the predecessors of the Cities of Albany and New York were
   numbers two and three, respectively).
   In 1683, almost 20 years after the English kicked out the Dutch
   (1664), the General Assembly of Freeholders reorganized the
   governmental structure in all of the province of New York into 12
   counties, each of which was sub-divided into towns.

   Brooklyn was one of the original six towns of Kings County, an
   original county when the county/town system was established in 1683.

   (Other local area original counties were New York, Richmond, Queens, 
   Westchester and Suffolk. The Bronx was part of Westchester County
   until 1873, when the western Bronx was annexed by New York
   City/County, and 1895, when the eastern Bronx was annexed as well. The
   eastern two-thirds of Queens County seceded and became Nassau County
   in 1899, making Nassau the youngest county in New York State, although
   the Bronx "paper" county was established in 1914 when the Bronx
   "seceded" from New York County.)

   The next 2 pages include some additional information about important  
   dates for all the cities, towns and villages that were part of the 
   history of what we now refer to as "Brooklyn".

   The Town of Brooklyn did not have that large a population in 
   1790, the year of the first federal census. The Town of Oyster Bay,
   then in Queens County, had a larger population than did Brooklyn that
   The Village of Breuckelen (1646) preceded City of Nieuw Amsterdam (1653)
   by some 7 years.

   Brooklyn/Kings County has 2 names because it took some 200 years for
   Brooklyn to annex the other parts of Kings County.
   When the City of Brooklyn annexed the City of Williamsburgh and the
   Town of Bushwick, this area was then known as the eastern district of
   the City of Brooklyn and Williamsburgh lost its final "h".

   The streets in Brooklyn do not line up because each of the 2 cities
   and 6 towns in Kings County were independent municipalities and
   purposely decided to create street grids with different naming systems
   that did not line up with the adjoining city or town. The Town of
   Gravesend was the only town where the streets run long north-to-south,
   all other cities and towns ran their streets long west-to-east.
   Gravesend was the only English town, all the others were Dutch.

   South Brooklyn is north of southern Brooklyn because until 1894 the
   Red Hook area (South Brooklyn) was the southernmost part of the City  
   of Brooklyn.
   Bay Ridge was originally called "Yellow Hook" until a yellow fever
   epidemic struck and the name was changed.

   Suggested reading:

   The Brooklyn Almanac by Margaret Latimer is a history of Kings
   County/City of Brooklyn/Borough of Brooklyn. Some problems with
   geography, but a good resource.

   Ms. Latimer also wrote Two Cities that describes month-by-month life
   in New York City (Manhattan and the western Bronx) and in the City of
   Brooklyn (the northern-third of Kings County) in 1883, the year the
   Brooklyn bridge was built.

   Key Dates in the History of Kings County (Brooklyn)

   1646 Village of Breuckelen granted charter by the Dutch West India

   1683 Kings County and 6 towns created: Brooklyn, Bushwick, Flatbush,
   Flatlands, Gravesend and New Utrecht.

   1816 Village of Brooklyn incorporated within Town of Brooklyn.

   1827 Village of Williamsburgh incorporated within Town of Bushwick.

   1834 Town of Brooklyn (including Village of Brooklyn) becomes City of
   Brooklyn. Kings County now includes 1 city (Brooklyn) and 5 towns
   (Bushwick, Flatbush, Flatlands, Gravesend and New Utrecht).

   1851 Village of Williamsburgh secedes from Town of Bushwick and
   becomes City of Williamsburgh. Kings County now includes 2 cities
   (Brooklyn and Williamsburgh) and 5 towns (Bushwick, Flatbush,
   Flatlands, Gravesend and New Utrecht).

   1852 Town of New Lots secedes from Town of Flatbush. Kings County
   consists of 2 cities (Brooklyn and Williamsburgh) and 6 towns
   (Bushwick, Flatbush, Flatlands, Gravesend, New Lots and New Utrecht).

   1854 City of Williamsburgh and Town of Bushwick consolidated into City
   of Brooklyn. Kings County now 1 city (Brooklyn) and 5 towns (Flatbush,
   Flatlands, Gravesend, New Lots and New Utrecht).

   1886 Town of New Lots annexed into City of Brooklyn. Kings County now
   1 city (Brooklyn) and 4 towns (Flatbush, Flatlands, Gravesend and New

   1894 Towns of Flatbush, Gravesend and New Utrecht annexed into City of
   Brooklyn. Kings County now 1 city (Brooklyn) and 1 town (Flatlands).  

   1896 Town of Flatlands annexed into City of Brooklyn. Kings County and
   City of Brooklyn become coterminous.

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