In the beginning there was Breuckelen …

for <info@ipvstudio.com>; Mon, 13 Mar 2000 13:32:13 -0500 (EST)
From: Soyamaven@aol.com
Date: Mon, 13 Mar 2000 13:32:13 EST
Subject: In the beginning there was Breuckelen …

Dear Ira,

Thanks for the ePostal Cards at your site.

Here’s my version of a quick summary of the history of what we now call Brooklyn …

Despite common wisdom, Nieuw Amsterdam was not the first municipality in what is now New York State. In fact, Nieuw Amsterdam was not even the second.

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. In 1652, the Village of Fort Orange, predecessor to the City of Albany, received similar municipal privileges. It was only in 1653 that the City of Nieuw Amsterdam was granted its charter.

“At first the Dutch rulers of New Netherland did not draw a sharp line between their overall colonial or provincial government and that of their major settlement, which was called Nieuw Amsterdam. It was not until 1646 that the Dutch West India Company granted what appears to have been certain municipal privileges to the “Village of Breuckelen”–lineal ancestor of the present-day Brooklyn–located across the East River from Nieuw Amsterdam. Fort Orange, which later became the City of Albany, obtained similar municipal privileges in 1662. When in 1653 the “Merchants and Elders of the Community of Nieuw Amsterdam” won the right to establish what was called “a city government”, the municipality which became New York City was born.”

. Local Government Handbook, page 3, 4th Ed., 1987
. State of New York Department of State
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 subdivided 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.)

Following is 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”.

Sincerely,

Walter Greenspan

P.S. 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 year.

History of Breuckelen, Kings County & Brooklyn
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 Company.

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 Utrecht).

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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