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.

 

 

In the Brooklyn Swim

We’ve just made it through the first heatwave of the year and the warm weather is set to continue! How are you going to beat the summer heat? Free outdoor pools of course!

 

red hookHook, Lane and Swimmer
80 years old and still going strong! The Red Hook Pool was a Federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) project that opened in 1939, deep in the Great Depression during a summer that broke local heat records. The opening of the immense outdoor pool was attended by 40,000 people. Today, the pool is popular but thankfully a lot less people are in attendance. The pool is open daily from 11am-7pm, with weekday lap hours for keen swimmers, 18 years and over, from 7-8:30am and 7pm-dusk. For lap-swimmers, on-site aquatic specialists are available to record your lengths and those with the most laps at the end of summer win prizes. Entry is free but you’ll need to register online or poolside prior to your session.
155 Bay Street.

 

Pop by the Pop-Upcarousel-large
It’s true what they say, good things don’t last forever. Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pop-Up Pool is set to close at the end of next summer, after its fifth season and a highly successful run. The 30’ x 50’ Pop-Up Pool maxes out at an easy 3.5’ deep – making it just right for families with smaller kids. Entry is free and the pool also offers affordable swimming lessons. The area around the pool includes a 2,500-square-foot sandy beach, deck concessions, showers and restrooms. Open from June 29 til Labor Day, 10am to 6pm daily, for 45-minute sessions. The pool capacity is 60 and wristbands are required for each session, distributed first-come, first-served.
334 Furman Street.

 

mccarrenMega McCarren
Mini-pools are great for splashing around but if you’re serious about your swimming, you’ll want to go big or go home (hopefully to air conditioning). On the border of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, McCarren Park Pool is an Olympic-sized 329’ x 151’ x 4.6’ – that’s a generous 37,571 square foot swim area. Since 1939 (also a WPA project) the pool has been a cool haven and popular exercise venue for North Brooklyn dwellers, with plenty of poolside space for beach chairs and towel lounging post-swim. The pool is open daily from 11am-3pm, and 4pm-7pm, closing for an hour for pool cleaning. The pool usually draws major crowds so get in early.
776 Lorimer Street.

 

Double Fun at Double Dimage
Dip, dive and dog-paddle at the Douglass and DeGraw Pool in Gowanus, also known as the Double D. There are two separate pools here – an intermediate pool at 75’ x 60’ x 3’ and a wading pool perfect for the kiddies at 24’ x 24’ x 1’. The large concrete deck has a covered area and benches and is surprisingly uncrowded. The pool is also right next to the Thomas Greene Playground so if your little ones aren’t worn out after a splish and splash, take them to climb the monkey bars and scale mid-size towers. The pools are monitored by several lifeguards and open daily from 11am-7pm with a break for cleaning between 3-4pm, from July til Labor Day.
230 Douglass Street.

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

Make it to Market

One of our favorite things about Spring is the super fresh and delicious, seasonal produce, and luckily for us there are dozens of farmers markets in Brooklyn to choose from. The below are open right now, so do some research on the seasonal specialties, grab a tote and head to market!

 

greenpoint 2

A Green Point
Greenpoint never disappoints, with farmers markets held on Saturdays year-round in McCarren Park. These much-loved markets are enjoyed by the vibrant, growing Williamsburg community and the longtime Greenpoint Polish community. Shoppers mingle with friends and neighbors, bring their dogs to run around at McCarren Park and enjoy live music by local artists and cooking demonstrations by local chefs. Since 1997 this market has stayed true to its loyal customers who are encouraged to learn about featured produce and take home recipes.
North 12th St & Union Ave, Brooklyn. Saturdays, 8am-3pm (Year-Round).

 

PSL_CenterLaneSunny_May2014From the Earth, Down to Earth
On Sundays the Down to Earth Farmers Markets land in Park Slope. This is how we to like to start our Sunday mornings! Founded in 2004 the markets include dozens of vendors who sell plants, flowers, fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy, honey, baked goods, meat, poultry and more. In the market for the freshest of fresh produce? Check the website to see what’s in season. Right now we’re sea’ing seafood and ciders! This weekend (5/15) there will be a textile recycling program from 10am-5pm. The Market is now also open on Wednesdays if you’re planning a mid-week grocery shop!
5th Ave between 3rd and 4th St, Park Slope. Sundays, 10am-5pm (4/24 – 12/18); Wednesdays, 3pm-7pm (5/11 – 11/16).

 

grand army plazaArmed and Delicious
Founded in 1989, the Grand Army Plaza market is appropriately named, and is the grandest and largest Brooklyn market in the Greenmarket program. On Saturdays year-round these markets treat market-goers to a huge array of farm-fresh produce. A mix of shoppers, runners, dog walkers, families, foodies and more from Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights and beyond come together to enjoy the numerous stalls. If you’re checking these markets out, why not make a day of it and explore the nearby beautiful Prospect Park, Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, Brooklyn Public Library or Brooklyn Museum.
Prospect Park West & Flatbush Avenue, Northwest corner of Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Saturdays, 8am-4pm (Year-Round).

 

courtelyouCourt-Sell-You
We’re sold on the Cortelyou Greenmarket, located on lively Courtelyou Road in Flatbush on Sundays. Since 2003 market-goers have filled their bags and baskets with specialty Mexican produce and herbs, eggs, chicken, fresh pasta, orchard fruit and juices, seafood, mushrooms, grass-fed beef, goat cheese and locally-grown vegetables. Is your mouth watering yet? Cooking demonstrations, seasonal celebrations, family-friendly activities like singalongs and the open adjacent schoolyard ensures a festive atmosphere, located among a thriving shopping strip in the heart of South Brooklyn.
Cortelyou Road between Argyle & Rugby, Flatbush. Sundays, 8am-3pm (Year-Round).