What’s In A Name….

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I’m sure most of us have never stopped to think about where the neighborhood’s we live in got their name, or even the history behind it. While some of the older areas are named after Dutch settlers, the newer, more industrialized locations that have turned residential over the past couple of years received their moniker based on geographical location. Take the area of DUMBO, Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. When we set out with our real estate agent, we might have chosen the location based on a number of factors, but chances are it’s not because of a name.

If we stop and think about it for a moment, there is a lot of history that helped shape not only the borough of Brooklyn, but each of the 77 neighborhoods that comprise Kings County. It’s extremely fascinating, especially if you’re a history buff.  The Brooklyn Historical Society is a great place for more in-depth knowledge on such a fascinating topic.

The borough itself has the Dutch colonists to thank for their name. In the mid 1600’s Brooklyn consisted of six separate towns. One of these towns, settled in 1646, was named “Breuckelen,” named after a village in the Netherlands. In 1664, the English gained control of the area and the name was eventually anglicized to “Brooklyn” the name residents have come to know and love.

As for the areas that comprise the borough, let’s take a look at where a few originated.

Gerritsen Beach

 Gerritsen Beach

Located just 13 miles from New York City on Brooklyn’s southern shore, this quaint and close knit community was named for the Dutch settler, Wolphert Gerretse, who built his home and mill alongside Gerritsen Creek in the early 17th century. The area was mainly rural territory until the 1920’s when developers began building a resort community.

The allure of Gerritsen Beach for many multi-generational families is living amongst friends and the security of knowing your neighbors. While close to Marine Park and Sheepshead Bay, the neighborhood has a private beach which offers easy access to boating and parkland.

Neighborhood stores and commercial activity can be found along Gerritsen Avenue. Another interesting fact, the neighborhood is home to the only remaining volunteer fire department in Brooklyn and is one of nine that exist in NYC.

Benson

Bensonhurst

Tucked between a multitude of neighborhoods on the southwestern side of Brooklyn, Bensonhurst was an area comprised of farmland back in the 1800’s. Originally owned by the Polhemus family, a landowning clan, they sold their acreage to the Benson family, descendants from some of America’s earliest Dutch settlers.

In 1889, a developer by the name of James Lynch bought the Benson family’s land; his plan was to turn the area into an exclusive resort, complete with a steam rail and trolley access. The Benson family agreed to the sale under one condition; that it would be known by their surname. For a brief time the neighborhood was referred to as Bensonhurst-by-the-Sea but over time it was eventually shortened.

Today, two main thoroughfares run through this popular neighborhood. Whether walking or driving along 18th Avenue you’ll find the streets lined with predominantly small, family-owned businesses; plus it is home to the popular 18th Avenue Feast which takes place yearly in late August/early September. There is also the ever popular 86th Street, filled with a slew of stores and restaurants. On the second Sunday after Memorial the annual 86th Street Festival is held and there you’ll find the streets lined with live music, food, carnival rides.

Carroll Gardens

Carroll Gardens

The residential area known as Carroll Gardens offers its residents a serene neighborhood filled with brownstone row houses, accompanied by beautiful front gardens. The area takes it name from Carroll Park which is a vital center of the community. The park, built in the late 1840’s, is comprised of playgrounds, walkways, and sitting areas that run between Court, Smith, Carroll, and President Streets.

Originally a private garden purchased by the city in 1853, it was named after Charles Carroll, a wealthy Maryland planter, who was also the first United States Senator for Maryland, and one of the signors of the Declaration of Independence.

You might be wondering why a man from Maryland had the honor of a NY neighborhood being named after him; Carroll led the 1st Maryland Regiment, a group of soldiers who were integral to the Battle of Brooklyn in August 1776. These brave men charged the enemy holed up at the Old Stone House at the Gowanus so Washington’s army would have time to escape. Their bravery changed the course of the Revolutionary War.

The gardens refer to the big gardens in the front yards of these beautiful homes. In 1846, a surveyor named Richard Butt planned gardens in front of the brownstone homes in the oldest section of the neighborhood when he developed it.

Originally considered to be a part of the Red Hook neighborhood, Carroll Gardens began to have its own identity in the 1960s.

A favorite area amongst many, the neighborhood is filled with local retailers, cafes, restaurants, and trendy bars, giving it a distinct and unique charm.

Greenpoint landing

Greenpoint

With views of the Manhattan skyline, Greenpoint is one of the more cozier and intimate areas of the borough even as they continue to grow in popularity amongst home buyers.

Originally an area of vast farmland, it was surrounded by blooming trees, beautiful meadows, fresh water creeks and briny marshes. European settlers originally referred to a small bluff of land jutting into the East River at what is now the westernmost end of Freeman Street as “Greenpoint” but eventually the name came to encompass the whole area.

Because it was once predominantly farmland, many of the farm owners family names, like  Meserole and Calyer, are still the street names of today.  It’s also been said that Brooklyn’s distinctive accent originates from Greenpoint.

The neighborhood is also home to McCarren Park which first opened in 1906 under the name Greenpoint Park and renamed two years later after State Senator Patrick H. McCarren. The park contains an outdoor pool, a recreational center, film and concerts in the summer months, and a greenmarket which is open for business on Saturdays. The neighborhood is also a popular filming location for TV and film.

Over the years the demand for housing has skyrocketed and many new developments have begun [although completion is a few years away], especially along the area’s waterfront, which along with the waterfront in Williamsburg, was rezoned in 2005 for increased residential projects.

In 2015, construction began on Greenpoint Landing, a project which includes ten residential towers, a public elementary and middle school, and 4 acres of parkland. While as of this past spring one building has opened, completion is expected to be before 2027.

 

 

Keep Musicool in Brooklyn

There’s something about summer that makes us want to sing and dance! As summer comes to an end, Brooklyn is keeping the music alive. Listen out at these upcoming, mostly outdoor, events in the best borough!


archSwing and Sway Away
There’s something for everyone at Live at The Archway, a weekly event every Thursday night in DUMBO under the Manhattan Bridge. The 18-week series from July to September boasts the best of Brooklyn talent, with broad music and performance genres including sizzling salsa, Colombian Cumbia, swing dancing, world roots music, sultry R&B, an Italian modern dance troupe, puppetry, funk, DJs and more. The free performances start at 6pm right under the Bridge, so the events are on rain or shine. Take in the epic scenery below the Manhattan Bridge and enjoy beer, wine and bites from The Lighthouse. Visit dumbo.is to see the full schedule. All ages.
50 Adams St, DUMBO.


funkFormidable Festival
A music festival that claims to give “power to the party”, AfroPunk Brooklyn returns to Commodore Barry Park on August 27 and 28. The annual festival was created by its founders to showcase what they billed as “alternative black culture”, with acts that didn’t always fit into other major festivals. Described by The New York Times as “the most multicultural festival in the US” AfroPunk promises an impressive weekend of live music and good vibes with an eclectic line-up and diverse audience. The international event, now also held in Paris and London, is a mix of music, art and politics. Come sundown the creeps into the streets, bars, and restaurants of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill and comedy shows, dance, pop-up performances, film screenings, art installations and drink specials will feature at AfroPunk After Dark. GA and VIP tickets are available for Saturday, Sunday or both days, from $45 to $250 plus booking fee.
Commodore Barry Park, Flushing Ave, Fort Greene.

 

americanaUnited Stages of America
For the second year running, round up your favorite folks, friends and family, and mosey on down to the Brooklyn Americana Festival. On September 23, 24 and 25, fifty free shows will be held over the course of three days, on seven stages, from outdoor daytime performances to evening concerts. Festival-goers will shimmy and sway to the best original and traditional Americana musicians, playing live country, folk, roots, blues, old time and bluegrass and enjoy performances from Brooklyn’s Best plus special guests from Louisiana, Texas and Tennessee. The beloved pioneer hosting establishments in DUMBO and Red Hook include The Archway, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Gala at Jalopy, Sunny’s Bar, 68 Jay St Bar, Superfine and Bait N Tackle. All ages. Visit bkamf.com to see the full schedule.
Various locations in DUMBO and Red Hook.


Pave the Wavenext wave

Although the Brooklyn Academy of Music delivers impressive shows year-round, their Next Wave Festival is one of the largest experiments in live performance in the world. The annual multimedia, multi-genre art festival includes music, theatre, opera and dance, and runs September 7 through December 18. Opening the festival is “the loser” an opera piece by David Lang in which the title character is held in mid-air with a grand piano hovering in the distance behind him. The line-up also includes music by The Magnetic Fields, So Percussion and The Dublin Guitar Quartet. Single tickets for all shows are now on sale and range from $20-$130. Subscriptions to the festival are also available.
Various locations in Downtown Brooklyn.

Kidding Around Brooklyn

We’re about a month into summer break so odds are the kids are starting to get restless! Here are some free Brooklyn-based activities to look forward to, that will keep the little ones active and entertained.


573c8b564a761A Good Sport

As tempting as it is to set the kids up with video games, smartphones and television, they will benefit far more from fresh air and exercise. From the beginning of July until mid-September, Sunset Park Recreation Center hosts the Summer Sports Experience. Every weekday from 9:15am-4:45pm, the skilled Parks staff teach kids how to play basketball, soccer, football, rugby, volleyball, goal ball, softball and various group games. This is a friendly, small group introduction to the sports, on a drop-in basis and it’s a great way for kids to socialize and learn teamwork skills. There are separate programs for 8 month-3 year olds, 2-5 year olds and 6-14 year olds and all programs are free!
43rd Street at 7th Avenue, Sunset Park


Soaking Gunimage

Get ready to get super soaked at this water workout! The annual Squirt Gun Fight takes place Saturday August 13 at the Coney Island Boardwalk. Every year thousands of New Yorkers turn up armed and ready for the massive drench-fest. Bathing suits, towels and maybe even goggles recommended; water-spraying devices essential! This sopping-wet day of free fun starts at 1pm and is suitable for ages 6 and up.
37 Boardwalk West, Coney Island


image (1)Take the Field

Team up with the family for the ultimate day of outdoor excitement! Brooklyn Bridge Park have been running Family Field Days once a month since June, with the grand final taking place Saturday August 20 from 10am. The free Family Field Days are full of good old-fashioned recreational fun for all ages. There’s guaranteed to be something for every member of your team, including Hula-Hoop races, volleyball clinics, soccer drills and bocce. All necessary equipment is provided – just wear sneakers and be prepared to get physical!
334 Furman St (between Adams St and Atlantic Ave), Brooklyn Heights


Kites and Tykesimage (2)
Seize the breeze and take to the skies with Brooklyn Bridge Park’s annual Kite Festival. Bring your kite along or purchase one there and teach your tot how to fly it! The event takes place Saturday September 10, after the kids go back to school, so you and the kids have plenty of time to practice kite flying skills and techniques. With the picturesque Manhattan skyline as a backdrop, the colorful flutter-fest is free and suitable for all ages.
334 Furman St, Brooklyn Heights

 

56b39ce479a04Afternoon Adventures
The kids might not be looking forward to going back to school, but they’ll like this type of learning! The Environmental Education Center in Brooklyn Bridge Park is open for free, four afternoons a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year from February until November. From 3-5pm kids will learn about Brooklyn Bridge Park, with a 250-gallon aquarium filled with critters from the East River, a 10’-scale model of Brooklyn Bridge Park, arts and crafts, a reading corner and more.
99 Plymouth, DUMBO

Summer Screensations

Lining up for movie tickets and popcorn then sitting in a super chilly movie theater this Summer? You’re doing it wrong! It is the season to get outside and this year’s outdoor film screenings are already in full swing. Grab a blanket and some buddies, and watch a film under the stars in Brooklyn at the following locations.

 

industry cityScreen it from the Rooftops
Bars, BBQs, restaurants, parties, tanning, watching movies… There are just some things that were made for rooftops! This outdoor summer series is now in its 10th year and has expanded to four (mostly rooftop) locations across Brooklyn on various nights throughout June, July and August. Rooftop Films brings the underground outdoors, and has grown to become known internationally as one of the most dynamic film festivals in the world. In Sunset Park, with Brooklyn’s waterfront as the backdrop, films will be screened from two of Industry City’s amazing rooftops. Enjoy breathtaking views of lower Manhattan’s skyscape, the Statue of Liberty and South Brooklyn while watching a mix of documentaries, short films and animations including Sundance Short Films and documentaries about New York, including Goodnight Brooklyn: The Story of Death by Audio. There is a live music performance at every screening and many host dance parties after the film.
Industry City, 220 36th St, Sunset Park. $15.
Bushwick Generator, 195 Moore St, Bushwick. $15.
MetroTech Commons, 5 MetroTech Center, Downtown. Free.
The Old American Can Factory, 232 Third St at 3rd Ave, Gowanus. $15.

 

Williamsburg Watchingswburg
There’s seeing it on the big screen, then seeing it on the BIG outdoor Brooklyn screen. The borough’s longest running film and music series launched in 2006 with a screening of Do The Right Thing and 11 years later, SummerScreen is still going strong. At McCarren Park in Williamsburg every Wednesday from July 6 to August 10, spectators will be treated to cult classics like 10 Things I Hate About You and The Royal Tenebaums in the open-air, and best of all, it’s free! Bring chairs, blankets and pack a picnic, or take advantage of food and drinks from local vendors. Every show features live music, which kicks off at 6pm, followed by the movie at 8:30pm. McCarren Park, North 12th St, Williamsburg. Free.


movies with viewA View from the Bridge
On a warm summer night, spread your blanket on the luscious grass of Harbor View Lawn in Brooklyn Bridge Park, take in the spectacular sight of the Manhattan skyline and enjoy the breeze off the East River. You’re at Movies With A View. Since 2000, Movies With A View has earned a large and loyal following. One of New York City’s favorite summer film series, the line-up of films promises to wow, entertain, thrill and pull at the heartstrings of movie goers. The screenings take place every Thursday evening in July and August and include classics such as Purple Rain and American Graffiti. For the final screening of the series, the public can vote between The SandlotMilk or La Bamba. The eight-week series expects to draw an average of 7,000 film fans at each screening. The lawn opens at 6pm, with the film beginning at sunset.
Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1, 334 Furman Street, Dumbo. Free.


Habana Good TimeHabana-Outpost

Mexican food and movies have to be two of our favorite things. Habana Outpost read our minds and combined the two. The Fort Greene restaurant projects movies on their outside wall every Sunday from May through to the end of October. Enjoy their award-winning Cuban sandwich, indulge in their bold-tasting Mexican-style corn, and order all the tacos and burritos your heart desires, because the movie is free! Films screen at 8pm and this year’s roster includes West Side StoryFlashdanceRocky,Saturday Night FeverGhostbusters and, for Halloween, of course, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
757 Fulton St, Fort Greene. Free.

Other venues worth checking out include:
Movie Nights at Narrows Botanical Gardens in Bay Ridge
Midweek Movie Escapes in Downtown Brooklyn
Flicks on the Beach in Coney Island
Red Hook Flicks in Red Hook
Bric Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival at Prospect Park
NYC Parks Classic Film Series at various Brooklyn locations

Wedded Brooklyn Bliss

Congratulations, you’re engaged! Whether you’re marrying your high school sweetheart or you recently found love in a hopeless place (aka Tinder), we’ve located some vibrant vow venues in which to spread your love (it’s the Brooklyn way).

 

greenbuilding

A Nice Day for a Green Wedding

The gorgeous Green Building in Gowanus is a raw space with original brick walls and exposed beam ceilings. The perfect blank canvas to design your special soiree, you can take a look at the venue and discover dozens of vendors at Wedding Crashers this Sunday March 13 from 11:30am-3pm.

 

Finery at the Winerywinery

With warm barn wood walls, sophisticated zinc-topped wine bar and hand-selected vintage adornments, the Brooklyn Winery in Williamsburg radiates rustic romance. Ideal for 100-160 guests, the ceremony takes place in an airy space with glass roof and succulent wall garden. Guests will be merry mingling among wine barrel cocktail tables, in view of floor-to-ceiling barrels of aging wine.

 

boathouse

Secure a Spouse at the Boathouse

For nuptials in a natural setting with a breathtaking backdrop, The Boathouse at Prospect Park takes the cake. Built in 1905 and one of NYC’s first historic landmarks, the beautiful Beaux Arts style building overlooks the scenic Lullwater and Lullwater Bridge. This is a superb setting for a seated dinner and dancing for up to 150 guests.

 

Delight and Devotion in Dumbodumbo loft

A former coffee factory and manufacturer of smoking pipes built in 1891, the Dumbo Loft has been transformed into an attractive and adaptable space of 3,200 square-feet. Say “I do” to hardwood floors, high ceilings, exposed brick, wooden beams and pillars, tall windows and wonderful views of the Manhattan Bridge.

And the Emmy Goes to … Booklyn

It’s easy to think of Manhattan as the solo borough when it comes to Hollywood fame. Don’t let yellow cabs and skyscrapers fool you. As we head into Emmy Awards season, we take a look at the TV shows that wear the Brooklyn badge with pride.

150828 - Mozart

Mozart in Bushwick

Fittingly hipster and counter-culture, Amazon Prime’s Mozart in the Jungle has roared onto Bushwick Avenue, between Montrose Avenue and Meanwhile Street. Just don’t make any comparisons to HBO’s Bushwick baby, Girls.

Commended for its darker deeper explorations into the twentysomethings’ world with a great breadth of older characters too, The New Yorker has commented, “There’s a silly montage of various musicians and their sexual styles; hot maestros are besieged by crowds of autograph hounds. Yet the silliness can be infectious.”

The show follows Hailey (Lola Kirke) as she hones in on her soul goal: to play oboe with the New York Symphony. Her love interest, Alex, studies ballet at Julliard and is played by Peter Vack – a huge fan of Brooklyn. He tells Interview magazine, “I live in Bushwick, my parents live in Williamsburg, and my sister lives in Crown Heights.”

Bushwick may be a no-brainer choice in the minds of many as since the early 2000s, it has gained a reputation as a neighborhood of artists, galleries and studies. A thriving dining scene has also paved the way for everything from family run taco shops to new boutique cafes. Roberta’s pizza has become a destination restaurant, and other popular spots include Bunna Cafe for Ethiopian food, Tchoup Shop for Cajun and creole, Momo Sushi Shack, and Arepera Guacuco Restaurant.

150828 - elementary

Sherlock secrets in Brooklyn Heights

Elementary is a TV hit that stars Lucy Liu and Johnny Lee Miller as a modern take on the cases of Sherlock Holmes with the detective now living in New York City. The cine-magicians have audiences believing the home of Holmes is in Brooklyn Heights, however the exteriors are shot in Harlem with the interiors filmed in a studio in Long Island City.

Creator Rob Doherty tells the New York Post, “If you’re going to transplant Sherlock Holmes to an American city it has to be New York,” Doherty says. “There’s a texture to the place that’s reminiscent of London and both have Victorian elements.”

In the 21st century Holmes (Miller) is a recovering drug addict and former consultant to Scotland Yard, as he assists the New York City Police Department in solving crimes. He is accompanied by Dr. Joan Watson (Liu), who initially acts as his sober companion. She is a former surgeon and was hired by Sherlock’s father to help him in his rehabilitation. They eventually begin to work together on his cases, and she becomes Holmes’ apprentice.

Brooklyn Heights is one of the borough’s oldest neighborhoods whose Hollywood glamor dates back to The Cosby Show and Moonstruck. A true ageless beauty, Brooklyn Heights’ blocks of rowhouses, brownstones, former carriage houses and mansions make it a photogenic hot spot. The architectural variety includes 19th century Federal style, Greek Revival and Gothic Revival, and Italianate brownstones. It’s no surprise Brooklyn Heights was the first neighborhood included in New York’s Landmark Preservation Law. The Brooklyn Heights promenade offers breathtaking views of Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge and the harbor.

Stay tuned for more…