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Copyright © 2008 - 2015 by Andrew J. Morris

A generation which ignores history has no past -- and no future.

Robert Heinlein

History of Brooklyn, (Kings County) New York

Featured Picture:

Ocean Avenue near Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn, 1919

Local History Notes:

The 1854 Gazetteer of the United States by Thomas Baldwin shows:

BROOKLYN, a city, seaport, and seat of justice of King's county, New York, at the western extremity of Long island, 146 miles S. from Albany, and 226 miles N. E. from Washington. Lat. of the navy-yard, 40° 41´ 50´´ N.; lon. 73° 59´ 30´´ W. A strait, called the East river, about three-fourths of a mile wide, separates it from New York city. This strait is crossed by several steam-ferries, the principal of which are the Fulton, South, Catharine, Jackson, and the Hamilton Avenue ferries. Of these the Fulton ferry is by far the greatest thoroughfare. Boats leave the opposite landings every few minutes during the day, and once in 30 minutes from 12 o'clock at night until morning. The crowd of passengers, both at the Fulton and South ferries, morning and evening, is immense: three boats at each are kept constantly plying, and occupy no more than 5 or 6 minutes in crossing. The site of Brooklyn is considerably elevated and very uneven, though much has been done in the way of grading and other improvements to overcome the original inequalities of the surface. One prominence, towards the East river, denominated the "Heights," is 70 feet above the level of the sea, and affords a magnificent view of New York city, the harbor, and surrounding scenery. The streets are generally about 60 feet in width, and, with the exception of Fulton, nearly all straight, intersecting each other at right angles. Many of them are beautifully shaded, which, in the summer season, imparts to the city all the freshness and tranquil appearance of a country town. Fulton street, leading from Fulton ferry, is the great thoroughfare; enclosed on either side with blocks of lofty buildings, it forms an imposing entrance to the city. Most of the finest streets are towards the S. W., near the bay. Many of the dwellings in this section are of surpassing elegance, and are generally surrounded with yards, adorned with beautiful gardens and shrubbery. The more densely settled portions of the city have no public squares, but from its elevated position, the breadth of the streets, and the profusion of shade-trees, the want of those means of ventilation and sources of health is much less felt than might have been expected. In the newer parts, however, provision for some public grounds has been made. The proximity of Brooklyn to New York, its healthy atmosphere, and the facilities afforded for communication with the great metropolis, have made it a favorite place of residence to persons doing business in that city. It is to this circumstance that its rapid growth is mainly attributable.

Brooklyn is one of the best-built cities in the United States, and contains a large number of edifices that are distinguished either for elegance of architectural design. The most prominent of these is the new city hall, situated on a triangular piece of ground bounded by Fulton, Court, and Joralemon streets. It is constructed of white marble, 162 feet by 102, and 75 feet in height, comprising three stories and a basement. A dome surmounts the building, the top of which is 153 feet from the ground. Its entire cost was about $200,000. The jail, erected in 1837, is a substantial building of freestone, situated in the eastern part of the city, near Fort Greene.

There are 66 churches in Brooklyn, several of which are imposing structures. The Church of the Pilgrims, a gray stone building, with a tower and spire, is a commanding object to those approaching the city from the bay. The Holy Trinity (Episcopal) is a brown stone edifice, of Gothic architecture, and cost about $150,000. Grace church, the Unitarian church, and the Church of the Restoration, are all of brown stone, and in the Gothic style of architecture. Dr. Cox's church, and Dr. Bethune's, (the latter not yet completed,) are also of brown stone.

The Atlantic dock, 1 mile S. of Fulton ferry, is one of the most extensive works of the kind in the United States. It was built by a company incorporated in 1840, with a capital of $1,000,000, and embraces within the piers 40 86/100 acres. Its depth is sufficient for ships of the largest size. The outer pier, extending 3000 feet on Buttermilk channel, is occupied with a range of granite stores, which completely shelters it from the harbor. An extensive dry dock, at the navy-yard, has recently been completed at a cost of about $1,000,000. The shores of Brooklyn, where not protected by docks and wharves, are rapidly wearing away, in consequence of the strong current in the East river. Governor's Island was formerly connected with Long Island, and, previous to the Revolution, cattle were driven from Red Hook Point to it across Buttermilk channel, then a shallow passage, but now of sufficient depth for vessels of the largest class. The United States navy-yard is situated on the S. side of Wallabout bay, which makes up towards the N. E. part of Brooklyn, in the form of a broad curve. It occupies about 40 acres of ground, which is enclosed on the land side by a high stone wall, and contains, besides the residences of the officers, two extensive ship-houses, various workshops, and a large amount of military stores.

Among the literary and charitable institutions, may be mentioned the Brooklyn Athenæum, at the corner of Atlantic and Clinton streets. It is provided with a library, reading roam, and a course of lectures. The building is a fine structure, 90 feet by 80, and cost $60,000. The City Library contains a collection of valuable works. The Lyceum, in Washington street, is a noble granite structure, with a spacious lecture room. The United States Lyceum, organized in 1833, is in the navy-yard, and possesses besides a valuable collection of curiosities, extensive geological and mineralogical cabinets. The new City Hospital, in Raymond street, near De Kalb, was opened in April, 1852, and has accommodations for 170 patients. The whole number of admissions during the year 1852, was 456. The "Graham Institution, for the relief of respectable, aged, indigent females," was rounded in 1851, and the building dedicated October 26th, 1852. It is constructed of brick, 52 feet front, 80 deep, and 4 stories high, containing 55 rooms, which afford accommodation for 90 persons. Entire cost, $29,044. The Orphan Asylum of the City of Brooklyn, incorporated in 1835, furnishes a home to about 150 children. The Marine Hospital, surrounded with about 30 acres of well-cultivated land, occupies a commanding elevation on the opposite side of Wallabout bay. In addition to the above, may be mentioned the Church Charity Foundation, a corporation organized in 1851, having for its object the relief of indigent and destitute persons, and the Brooklyn Dispensary, on Pineapple street, near Fulton.

The public schools of Brooklyn are in a very prosperous condition. From the original formation of the board of education in 1843, to January 1st, 1853, the number of schools had increased from 10 to 15; the average attendance of pupils from 1865 to 6338; the number of teachers, from 29 to 157, and the yearly amount of teachers' salaries from $9510 to $35,063. The number of pupils registered, January 1st, 1853, was 9903, and the number who had received instruction during the year, 19,148. Of the teachers, 18 were males, and 139 females. During the year referred to, 571 volumes were added to the school libraries, making an aggregate of 19,799 volumes. The appropriations for 1852 amounted to $48,403 74; $23,403 74 of this sum was received from the state, and $25,000 from the city tax. In addition to this the Board advanced $33,861 for the purchase of school sites and the erection and repairing of houses, making the entire sum expended for school purposes in 1852, $82,264 74.

Brooklyn contains six banks and two savings institutions. Four daily and three or four weekly newspapers are published in the city.

At Wallabout bay, in the Revolutionary war, were stationed the English prison-ships, in which it is said nearly 12,000 Americans perished from close confinement and other ill treatment. The bodies of the sufferers were hastily buried upon the shore with but little care, except to conceal them from sight. In 1808 their bones, which were beginning to be washed from their graves, were taken up and placed in thirteen coffins, inscribed with the names of the thirteen original states, and then deposited in a common vault beneath a building erected for the purpose, on Hudson avenue, near the navy-yard. Brooklyn was first settled in 1625, near Wallabout bay. The first deed for land was granted in 1639. In 1776 this part of Long Island became the seat of the Revolutionary war. Brooklyn was incorporated as a township in April, 1806, and as a city, having the same limits as the township, 6 miles long and 4 wide at its greatest breadth, in April, 1834. It is divided into 9 wards, and governed by a mayor and a board of 18 aldermen, 2 from each ward, elected annually. Population in 1810, 4402; 1820, 7175; 1830, 15,396; 1840, 36,233; 1850, 96,838; 1853, estimated at 125,000.


A Biography of James Taft Hatfield

James Taft Hatfield, educator, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., June 15, 1862; son of the Rev. Robert Miller and Elizabeth Ann (Taft) Hatfield; grandson of Elisha and Elizabeth (Miller) Hatfield, and of Jonathan and Rebecca Ann (Horton) Taft; and a descendant of Thomas Hatfield, who settled in Westchester county, N.Y., about 1665; and of Robert Taft who settled in Uxbridge, Mass., in 1680. He was graduated from Northwestern university, Evanston, IIl., in 1883; studied Sanskrit at Canning college, Lucknow, India, in 1884; was a professor of classic languages at Rust university, HollySprings, Miss., 1884-85; principal of McCormick school, De Funiak, Fla., in 1886; a graduate student and fellow of Johns Hopkins university, 1887-90, receiving the degree of Ph.D. in 1890; and in 1890 became professor of the German language and literature at Northwestern university, Evanston, Ill. From June, 1896, to August, 1897, he studied at Berlin, Weimar, Giessen, T?bingen, and Oxford; June to August, 1898, served in Spanish-American war as captain of a 5-inch gun on the U.S. cruiser Yale, entering as ordinary seaman and discharged as chief yeoman. He was appointed in August, 1898, one of an international committee of one hundred, being one of three Americans chosen, to arrange for the erection of a monument to Goethe in Strassburg. He was elected a member of the American oriental society, of the American society for the extension of university teaching, of the auxiliary council of the World's Columbian exposition (1893), and secretary of the pedagogical section of the Modern Language association of America. He was appointed one of the editors of Americana Germanica, published at the University of Pennsylvania. He published: The Elements of Sanskrit Grammar (1884); An Index to Gothic Forms in Kluge's Etymological Dictionary (1889); A Study of Juvencus (1890); On the Numbering of the Atharvan Paricistas (1889); The Aucanasadbhutani (1891); The Poetry of Wilhelm M?ller (1895); John Wesley's Translations of German Hymns (1896); Materials for German Composition (1896); The Earliest Poems of Wilhelm M?ller (1898); Church Music (1898); Uhland's Earliest Ballad and its Source (1898); Goethe (1899); and German Lyrics and Ballads (1900); and edited Freytag's Rittmeister von Alt-Rosen (1894), and Goethe's Hermann und Dorothea (1899).

From: Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, Johnson, Rossiter, editor

Julie Mathilde Lippmann - A Biography

Julie Mathilde Lippmann, author, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., June 27, 1864; daughter of Adolph and Marie Sophie (Polk) Lippmann, natives of Aix la Chapelle, Prussia. She was educated at a private school in Brooklyn and when fourteen began to write for the Golden Age, Philadelphia, in both prose and verse. She also wrote for the Youth's Companion, Century, Harpers, Atlantic and in fact most of the leading magazines and first class periodicals. She is the author of: Jock O'Dreams (1891); Miss Wildfire (1897); Dorothy Day (1898), and comediettas: A Fool and His Money (1897); Cousin Faithful (1897); The Facts in the Case (1897); Through Slumbertown and Wakeland.

From: Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, Johnson, Rossiter, editor

A Biography of Thomas Francis Magner

Thomas Francis Magner, representative, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., March 8, 1860, son of Patrick and Ellen (Barry) Magner, natives of Cork, Ireland, who came to New York in their early youth. He attended the public schools; was graduated from St. Francis Xavier college, New York city, in 1880, and from the law department of Columbia college in 1882. He taught school in Brooklyn, 1880-82; took up the practice of his profession in Brooklyn in 1882; was a member of the New York assembly, 1888; and a Democratic representative from the sixth New York district in the 51st, 52d and 53d congresses, 1889-95.

From: Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, Johnson, Rossiter, editor

Platt Powell Ryder - A Biography

Platt Powell Ryder, artist, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., June 11, 1821; son of Uriah and Mary Ann (Powell) Ryder; grandson of Nathaniel and Phebe (Nostrand) Ryder, and of Jacob and Elizabeth (Sands) Powell, the latter of quaker stock. He attended the public schools and later the Brooklyn Art Association and Academy of Design, and the National Academy of Design, although he was in art mainly self-educated. He visited Europe in 1860, and again in 1869, studying in London, Amsterdam, The Hague, and at the atelier of Bonn?t in Paris, exhibiting two works in oil at the Salon in 1870. On his return in the latter year he painted genre sujects, interiors, with figures, landscapes and portraits. He also painted in water-colors, when leisure permitted. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Design in 1868, and was one of the founders of the Brooklyn Academy of Design. Mr. Ryder never married. His portrait subjects include: Miss Emily Cole, Katskill, N.Y.; Mrs. Dickinson, New York; Judge Alexander McCue and others of his family; Judge G. J. Dyckerman; William Marshall; Charles Parsons, A.N.A., for the National Academy of Design; S. R. Putnam; George P. Putnam, for the trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Gen. U.S. Grant, which last portrait, though executed entirely from memory of the general's features, as studied at his various appearances in public assemblies, is said to be a striking likeness. His genre paintings include: The Christmas Turkey; the Housekeeper; Boys Playing Marbles (W. T. Evans collection); Expectant; On Guard; Waiting for the Train. He died in Saratoga, N.Y., July 16, 1896.

From: Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, Johnson, Rossiter, editor

The Biography of Benjamin Vaughan Abbott
The Biography of John White Chickering
A Biography of George Henry Cooper
Louis Pope Gratacap Biographical Sketch
The Biography of Frank Pierrepont Graves
Biographical Sketch of Allan McLane Hamilton
A Short Biography of Winfield Scott Keyes
Biography of John Loughlin
James Alphonsus McMaster Biographical Sketch
Henry Cruse Murphy - A Biography
The Biography of (Samuel) Duffield Osborne
Biographical Sketch of Sara Payson (Willis) Parton
Lewis Tappan - A Biography
A Biography of Julius Walker Adams
John Henry Allen Biographical Sketch
Biography of Francis Channing Barlow
William John Bok - A Biography
Biography of Clarence Winthrop Bowen
The Biography of Herbert Wolcott Bowen
A Short Biography of John Hyatt Brewer
Biographical Sketch of George Jarvis Brush
Robert Alexander Cameron Biography
Andrew Campbell Biography
Henry Carmichael Biography
John C. Carter Biography
Robert William Chambers Biography
Louis Kossuth Church Biography
John Claflin Biography
Roland Folger Coffin Biography
Biography of James Henry Darlington
The Biography of Thomas Darlington
Biography of Gustavus Adolphus De russy
The Biography of William Wirt Dixon
Samuel Willoughby Duffield Biographical Sketch
A Short Biography of Samuel Bowne Duryea
A Short Biography of Paul Leicester Ford
A Biography of Worthington Chauncey Ford
Biographical Sketch of Frank Fowler
The Biography of Samuel Hanna Frisbee
A Biography of George Bird Grinnell
John Habberton Biographical Sketch
Joseph Wesley Harper - A Biography
Joseph Howard - A Biography
Biographical Sketch of Fannie Ogden Ide
A Short Biography of Tudor Jenks
Biography of Virginia Wales Johnson
Biographical Sketch of Marshall Lefferts
The Biography of James Lawrence Little
Seth Low Biography
A Biography of John Bach McMaster
A Short Biography of Frederick Macmonnies
A Short Biography of Edward Spencer Mead
Samuel Hartt Pook - A Biography
Biographical Sketch of Charles Millard Pratt
Christopher Raymond Perry Rodgers - A Biography
Biography of Joshua Ratoon Sands
A Biography of Stephen Decatur Trenchard

New York Facts:
Tree: sugar maple
Bird: bluebird
Flower: rose
Nickname: Empire State
Motto: Excelsior (Ever Upward)
Area (sq. mi.): 49,576
Capitol: Albany
Admitted: 26 Jul 1788

Kings County Facts:

Seat: New York City
Established: 1683
Formed from: Orignal County

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Brooklyn is situated 15 meters above sea level.

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