Brooklyn by Name: How the Neighborhoods, Streets, Parks, Bridges, and More Got Their Names

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NYU Press, Jul 1, 2006 - History - 209 pages
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From Bedford-Stuyvesant to Williamsburg, Brooklyn's historic names are emblems of American culture and history. Uncovering the remarkable stories behind the landmarks, Brooklyn By Name takes readers on a stroll through the streets and places of this thriving metropolis to reveal the borough’s textured past.

Listing more than 500 of Brooklyn’s most prominent place names, organized alphabetically by region, and richly illustrated with photographs and current maps the book captures the diverse threads of American history. We learn about the Canarsie Indians, the region's first settlers, whose language survives in daily traffic reports about the Gowanus Expressway. The arrival of the Dutch West India Company in 1620 brought the first wave of European names, from Boswijck (“town in the woods,” later Bushwick) to Bedford-Stuyvesant, after the controversial administrator of the Dutch colony, to numerous places named after prominent Dutch families like the Bergens.

The English takeover of the area in 1664 led to the Anglicization of Dutch names, (vlackebos, meaning “wooded plain,” became Flatbush) and the introduction of distinctively English names (Kensington, Brighton Beach). A century later the American Revolution swept away most Tory monikers, replacing them with signers of the Declaration of Independence and international figures who supported the revolution such as Lafayette (France), De Kalb (Germany), and Kosciuszko (Poland). We learn too of the dark corners of Brooklyn“s past, encountering over 70 streets named for prominent slaveholders like Lefferts and Lott but none for its most famous abolitionist, Walt Whitman.

From the earliest settlements to recent commemorations such as Malcolm X Boulevard, Brooklyn By Name tells the tales of the poets, philosophers, baseball heroes, diplomats, warriors, and saints who have left their imprint on this polyethnic borough that was once almost disastrously renamed “New York East.”

Ideal for all Brooklynites, newcomers, and visitors, this book includes:

*Over 500 entries explaining the colorful history of Brooklyn's most prominent place names

*Over 100 vivid photographs of Brooklyn past and present

*9 easy to follow and up-to-date maps of the neighborhoods

*Informative sidebars covering topics like Ebbets Field, Lindsay Triangle, and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

*Covers all neighborhoods, easily find the street you're on


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Page 17 - Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong.
Page ii - DERE'S no guy livin' dat knows Brooklyn t'roo an' t'roo, because it'd take a guy a lifetime just to find his way aroun' duh f town. So like I say, I'm waitin' for my train t' come when I sees dis big guy standin' deh — dis is duh foist I eveh see of him. Well, he's lookin...
Page 18 - As a patriot, he early became a republican and in due course a member of the Continental Congress, a Signer of the Declaration of Independence, and a surgeon-general in the army of Washington.
Page 21 - Livingston was a Delegate to the Continental Congress and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Page 21 - It will be all over with me in a moment ; but you will be kicking in the air half an hour after I am gone.

About the author (2006)

Leonard Benardo is a former weekly columnist for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

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