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.

 

 

Look Who’s Turning 90!

When you hear the name Brooklyn many things come to mind; whether its things like real estate, food, festivals, or landmarks, the borough has an abundance to offer that will not disappoint.

Nathan's Hotdog

At the top of that list is the Cyclone at Luna Park (formerly the grounds of Astroland) in Coney Island, an iconic attraction that cannot be missed. Whether you’re a resident or a tourist visiting New York, the cyclone is a part of Brooklyn’s history and an attraction not to be missed.

“As a New Yorker, the cyclone is one of the top things you have to do,” says Angie Morris, Luna Park’s brand manager. “It’s amazing to hear guests from all over the world add the Cyclone to their “must do” list.”

Cyclone

In just a few short weeks, the historic wooden roller coaster will turn 90 years old! Since it’s opening on June 26th, 1927, it has been giving thrill seekers a ride to remember. It’s not been without its hiccups; in the 1970’s due to economic turmoil the coaster was almost torn down but then mayor, Ed Koch, fought to save it, saying he wasn’t sure Coney Island could survive without it. “Brooklyn is the Cyclone,” says Morris. “It is a generational ride that is shared with all Brooklynites.”

In 1988, it was declared a landmark and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

It also holds a bit of history; famous celebrities have ridden it and aviator Charles Lindbergh, the first person to fly solo over the Atlantic Ocean, reportedly said a ride on this roller coaster was greater than flying a plane at top speed.

It’s also been featured in such action thriller movies such as, “The Warriors,” and “Shakedown” with actor Sam Elliot while stars like Diana Ross and Michael Jackson danced under it in the hit film “The Wiz.”

The Warriors

Soaring above Coney Island’s boardwalk at the corner of Surf Avenue and West 10th Street, the impressive coaster reaches an 85 foot peak before a roaring 60 mph plunge brings only the bravest to the bottom.  Overall, there are 12 drops throughout the 2,640 feet of swirling track and 27 elevation changes. For a minute and 50 seconds, passengers aboard the cyclone experience a thrill on the all wooden piece of machinery that’s like no other. It’s definitely not a ride for the faint of heart!

Rollercoaster Picture

To commemorate this milestone birthday, Luna Park will be celebrating the cyclone’s 90th on Saturday, June 25th with the biggest block party in Brooklyn. Rain or shine the party starts at 2pm and is free for all ages. The fun-filled day will include such activities as face painting, a photo booth, and appearances by the Harlem Globetrotters and a musical performance from Brooklyn’s own Fabolous.

Globetotters

Along with the rest of the rides, games and food, the famous Feltman’s of Coney Island which closed its doors in 1954 is returning this summer to the original spot where it first began.

“We celebrate milestones for the Cyclone because it is a NYC landmark,” says Morris. “As we’ve done in the past with the 75th, 85th, and now 90th; it’s our way of honoring an icon and as we gear up for the 100th!”

But don’t be deceived; while this coaster might be turning 90 there is nothing old about her. Fully refurbished last year, it has been repaired and restored throughout the years and is inspected daily for the safety of its riders.

Luna Park first opened in 2010 on the former grounds of Astroland and this summer they’ve removed their 4 hour wristband to introduce the All Day wristband which gives guests the opportunity to ride all of the rides unlimited times all day long. So if you’re brave enough you can conquer the Cyclone more than once in a day!

Luna Park

Celebrating St. Patty’s Day: The Brooklyn Way

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 5.18.14 PMMarch has rolled back around and people everywhere are getting ready to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Both a cultural and religious celebration acknowledged around the world, it’s celebrated in more countries than any other national festival. Whether you’re of Irish descent or not, and it seems like everyone is a little Irish on March 17th, it’s a day filled with fun and festivities. If you want to get in on the fun there are numerous things to do in Brooklyn, a borough once known for it’s large Irish population.

With a long history that dates back before Prohibition in the 1920’s, the neighborhood once known as “Irishtown” (roughly located between the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the Manhattan bridge, portions of which are currently known as Vinegar Hill) may no longer be in existence, but neighborhoods such as Bay Ridge and the combined areas of Park Slope and Windsor Terrace still reflect some of the borough’s Irish origins.

The celebration extends past the 17th with not one but three local St. Patrick Day parades along with numerous traditional Irish bars where you can toast with a pint of guinness. Grab your family and friends and be ready for some bagpipes, kilts, lots of green, and of course a good time!

If it’s drinks you’re looking for here are some pubs to check out:

  • The Wicked Monk – 9510 3rd Avenue – Located in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, this neighborhood pub transports you back to a Gothic Irish Monastery when you walk through the door. The bar with its original wood and stained glass were shipped directly from the chapel in Greenmount Monastery (Gallows Green), Cork, Ireland, which was built in 1897, replacing a monastery, which stood on the site previously since 800 AD.

The Wicked Monk

  • The Harp – 7710 3rd Avenue – A friendly and causal Irish pub in Bay Ridge that boosts both a fireplace and a backyard beer garden for the nights you just want to be outside.
  • Farrell’s – 215 Prospect Park West – Located in Windsor Terrace Farrell’s has been a staple in the neighborhood since 1933, the year prohibition was repealed.

Farrell's

  • Peggy O’Neill’s – 1904 Surf Avenue – Once located in Bay Ridge, this Coney Island establishment offers both in and outdoor seating along with live music, DJs, and of course a selection of lager.
  • Irish Haven – 5721 4th Avenue – This old school Irish bar in Sunset Park was the location where Scorsese shot the infamous “cranberry juice” scene from the movie, “The Departed.”

Irish Haven

If a parade is on the agenda here’s what’s in store this year:

  • Saturday, March 18th at 1pm, Gerritsen Beach – The 8th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade will gather at the VFW Post #107 at Gerritsen Avenue and Whitney Avenue.
  • Sunday, March 19th at 1pm, Park Slope Patrick’s Day Parade – The parade runs from Prospect Park West and 15th Street, then down 15th Street to 7th Avenue to Garfield Place, then to Prospect Park West back to the starting point.
  • Sunday, March 26th at 1pm, Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Day – The parade will form at Saint Patrick’s Church at the corner of 95th Street and Fifth Avenue, then head to Marina Ave at 11am, and will begin at 1pm. Marchers will travel north bound on 3rd Avenue from Marine Ave to 94th St., then proceed onto 5th Avenue traveling north bound to 67th Street.

Scenery

Labor Day in Brooklyn

Labor Day is fast approaching and while many people head out of town, there’s no place we’d rather be than Brooklyn. Labor Day was first observed in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, as a day to celebrate labor. It has come to be regarded as a day of rest and/or partying, and the last true day of summer.

 

imageJamaican Me Want To Party
Work hard, play hard, right? You will find no one partying harder in Brooklyn on Monday September 5th than the members of the West Indian Day Parade, also known as the Labor Day Carnival Parade. One of New York’s top summer attractions and biggest cultural festivals, the annual event will celebrate its 46th anniversary this year – drawing close to two million people to Crown Heights! Join the crowd waving flags from Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, Grenada, Haiti and other Caribbean and immerse yourself in rich Caribbean culture and heritage. The march starts at 11am and is a joyful expression of cultural pride. During the seven-hour carnival, steel-pan, calypso and reggae bands wearing elaborate costumes march down Eastern Parkway. Vendors sell home-style island grub along the route, with favorites like jerk chicken, Bajan fried flying fish, rice and beans, and johnnycakes. Admission to the carnival is free.
Eastern Parkway, Crown Heights.

 

Hair For a Good Timebeard
Did you start Movember six years ago and forget to stop? Think facial hair holds sexy secrets and not just leftover food? Here’s one for you… Coney Island’s 9th Annual Beard and Moustache Competition at Sideshows by the Seashore on Saturday September 3rd. Over the past eight years, hundreds of bearded men (and women!) have competed to take home the much-coveted Beard & Moustache Fez trophy. You will see the strangest and most extravagant beards and moustaches outside of Williamsburg, with the New York’s hairiest contestants competing in categories such as Best in Show, Worst in Show, Best Styled Moustache and Best Chops. The event is $20 for both participants and spectators. Doors open at 6pm and the main event kicks off at 8pm.
1208 Surf Avenue, Coney Island.

 

12417992_1077709758927003_6880316649301149185_nPoets and They Know it
If you partied a little too hard over summer and are ready to take it down a notch, check out this Brooklyn Heights event on Saturday September 3rd – Brownstone Poets. This group has been inspiring Brooklyn since 2005, encouraging poetry, fostering creativity and celebrating great talent. Brooklyn-born poet/collagist, Steve Dalanchinksy – winner of several awards and prizes – will present his work, along with Mike Jurkovic, whose poems and music criticisms are forthcoming globally and feature in various print media. Also performing will be poet and visual artist Yuko Otomo, who pens haiku, art criticisms and essays, and contributes regularly to a collective critical writing forum. The event starts at 2:30pm at Park Plaza Restaurant. Entry is a $5 donation, plus the cost of food and drink available on the night. Don’t be shy, there’s an open mic!
220 Cadman Plaza West near Clark St and Pineapple Walk, Brooklyn Heights.

 

Tempting TintypeCapture
If Labor Day is the worker’s holiday, there’s no better time to recognized skilled and hard-working individuals such as Julie Orlick. Julie will present her solo exhibition, Tintype Photography & Film, on Saturday September 5th between 7pm to 10pm at The Living Gallery in Bushwick. The evening of analogue experiences will feature up to twenty one of a kind wet plate collodion tintypes and five 16mm short films by Julie Orlick, a director, analogue/alternative photographer and 16mm surrealist filmmaker currently working and living in Brooklyn. The tintype work was hand processed, developed and shot in Brooklyn, featuring visual artists and “creative weirdos” that inhabit New York city’s art scene. The exclusive work featured in this show has not been released elsewhere and the selected films explore floral landscapes, in-camera edits, double exposures, the surreal experience, lust for love, confusion and wonder. $5 suggested entry.
1094 Broadway, Bushwick.