Page 1

" Figure 35. Plaza Street West is one of the few streets in Park Slope. which is greatly altered

from its original appearance. It is shown here in 1902. Ofthe buildings on this street, only the Montauk Club and its atfjacent limestones, center, SUrvive.


- '<.0._

, Figure 36 The Henry Carlton Hulbert House at Prospect Park West and First Street is the finest surviving residence in Park Slope. It is now Poly Prep.

Prospect park West was Brooklyn's Gold Cost during the first half of the TwenUeth Century, and most of Brooklyn's political leadership lived there or nearby. During the NYC fiscal crisis of 1974-77, Congressman Hugh L. Carey of Prospect Park West was elected governor of the state, Abe Beame, whose legal residence was on Plaza Street West, was mayor, and Tom Cuit( of Windsor Terrace was Council Majority Leader (the position equivalent to today's Speaker). Other local notables included U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Emmanuel Celler. Today, Senator Charles Schumer continues the tradition from Nine

Prospect Park West and Borough President Marty Markowitz lives down the avenue. The Brownstone Movement was brought to park Slope in 1963 by Everett and Evelyn Ortner who bought a house on Berkeley Place and induced friends to join them. The area along the park was deSignated a historic district in 1973, and improvement spread south and west as the years passed. As gentrification has spread westward, toward the lower numbered avenues, the slope's boundary has shifted into Gowanus at Third Avenue and the section of Fifth north of Union Street, formerly ghettoized, has become a fine restaurant row, complimenting the comparable one on Smith Street. Its establishments are said to surpass, in quality those on long-established Seventh.

Figure 37 The Stewart L. Woodford House at 825 PreSident Street is architecturally notable but also Significant in that General Woodford led the effort to erect the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument.

Figure 38 The Guido Plessner house on the southwest comer a/Plaza Street West and Lincoln Place was a casualty ofapartment construction. It is shown here circa 1895.

Figure 39 The Thomas Adams, Jr. house on the Northeast corner of Eighth Avenue and Carroll Street is shown here in 1888.

1. A boundary dispute arose between Flatbush and Brooklyn in 1686 about the location of the town lines. Brooklyn argued for the bottom of the slope south of the hills. Flatbush pointed out that this would erase their town (Colonial) Governor Thomas Dongan in 1686 retained Jacques Cortelyou and Richard Stillwell to undertake a survey to resolve it. In 1683 they decided on the hillcrests, which remained the town lines of Brooklyn until it absorbed all of the others. Cortelyou was a Huguenot, a French Protestant, who sought religious freedom In America. Cortelyou is a Dutch version of his name, previously spelled "Cortelleau,' but to my ears it sounds more like the Italian "Cortello." He also produced a famous color aerial view and map of Manhattan. His family was prominent in Brooklyn"until the Twentieth Century, when George B. Cortelyou, who was Secretary of Commerce and Labor and Postmaster in Theodore Roosevelt's administration, moved to Westchester. The late architect Philip Johnson was a Cortelyou.

Figure 40 Prospect Park, the institutional Triangle and Park Slope today. Battle Pass is just north of the Zoo.

2. The northern hill, which was removed for landfill was called "Battle Hill" and was operated as a vineyard in the 1830s and 40s by Alden Spooner, village leader and founder of the Long Island Star newspaper, where he grew "Isabella" grapes, viniculture then being new to America, 3. The Inner Line of Defense was between the Gowanus and the Wallabout, not on the creek's west side.

4. The Old Stone House. 5. Sullivan actually surrendered to the Hessians later. 6. Burning the Freeke's Mill Causeway over the Gowanus was a disaster. It was not done under orders, .!.:~'>-' but by a Connecticut militia unit which had <. panicked because of the rout at Flatbush Pass. This act led to the drowning of many soldiers as they attempted to swim the creek. The causeway should have been burned after the Stone. House action and only upon Generai Stirling's orders. CfMÂŁlfRr 7. The Brooklyn Museum. The soldiers who retreated up the Flatbush Road, before the () British reached Valley Grove Pass ran into the British army, who were coming down it, and were captured and killed. A few who went through the countryside reached Fort Putnam. 9. Not true: the right flank was Lord Stirling's troops.

Figure 41 The air crash on Seventh Avenue and Sterling Place on December 16, 1960 produced this

scene. The buildings on both sides ofSterling

Place on the'west side of the avenue were demolished.







Figure 1 Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill in 1767, on the Ratzer Map. Philip Livingston's House, garden and distillery are at left, and his cousin Robert G. 's land with its house and garden are below that. Four Chimneys is at upper left at the end ofa narrow lane. Cobble Hill is



at bottom center near Red Hook Lane. The Ferry Road is at right and what would become Joralemon Street traverses the center. The area is mostly farm fields.


l i.


." :' ~








On October 24, 1929, one hundred thousand people gathered for a grand procession sponsored by the Brooklyn Bridge Plaza Association. It wended its way from Grand Army Plaza through Downtown Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights, to Fulton Ferry Landing. T h e ' , .' association was organized to erect an Art Deco gateway honoring George Washington near the Brooklyn Bridge on Fulton Street (Figure 3) as part of the adaptation of the bridge to increased automobile traffic.

Figure 2 Brooklyn Heights on the Sproule map shOWing elements of both 1776 and 1780. "F", Fort Stirling is at upper left; "B", the Citadel, is at center; and "A ", the Cobble Hill Fort, is at bottom center. He" and "D" are British redoubts (small earthworks) downtown and HE" is a British fort on McKenzie's One Tree Hill. Note the previously unreported American defenses shown in yellow running south from the distillery. ''t? ('

Three new plaques sponsored by the Daughters and Sons of the Revolution and the Association were unveiled. Two, the ones at Fulton Ferry Landng, and at the Four Chimneys site, are in place. The one placed on SI. Charles Hospital for Crippled Children at 277 Hicks Street below Joralemon, for the Livingston House (Figure 4) is gone. The hospital is

'. ".;




2 now an apartment house, and the holes and anchors which .held the phlql,,, are still visible on its right side. It was inadequate and inaccurate; Livingston didn't reside there, and no mention is made of the Council of War, which was assigned to Four Chimneys by the celebrants. Nevertheless, any marking is better than none, which is the case today. Figure 3 The art deeo gate proposedJar Fulton Street was beautifol but impractical since it would not have allowed/or increases in traffic volume. Figure 4 The Livingston Plaque was on 277 Hicks StreetJrom 1929 until 19?? The marchers retumed home to their radios and evening newspapers to discover that the stock market had crashed. In spite of reassurances from business leaders and President Herbert Hoover, over the next few months it became clear that the Great Depression had begun and that New York City would be hit particularly hard by this economic dis aster which forever changed the world (it brought Hitler to power in Germany) and the way government builds public improvements. October 24,1929 is known to history as "Black Thursday."

I'RO!'()~J:1J \V:\~JlI:-"(;TII:,\



TO 1l1~1)()KI.Y\"


In 1965, under the leadership of the Brooklyn Heights Association, Otis Pratt Pearsall and Clay Lancaster, Brooklyn Heights became the first neighborhood to be designated a New York City historic district because of its splendid Nineteenth Century residences, offices and churches. Yet in the development of the area after the institution of the Village and then the City of Brooklyn, its Revolutionary War heritage was thoughtlessly swept away, so that today not one building remains from that time when so many crucial events occurred there. Figure 5 The British Wheeler Map oj1778 shows Fort Stirling at left, the Cobble Hill Fort at bot/om left with its approach path and the three imeillary Jort east o/the ferry Road in today's Downtown. Whether called the Ferry Road, Fulton Street or Cadman Plaza West,' this street has always defined the border :Y oJthe Heights.







In 1816, the Village of Brooklyn (Figure 24) was incorporated to facilitate the development anticipated from the inauguration of reliable steam ferry service by William Cutting, Hezekiah Pierrepont and Robert Fulton from Brooklyn Ferry In 1814. Brooklyn Heights was quickly transformed into America's first sub.::.. urb, especially after the incorporation of the larger City of Brooklyn In 1834. But the s\f!.Ictures that saw the Revolution were lost. The British "Brooklyn Fort" wa gradually taken apart, its elements used to build new houses. By the time the Unitarian Church of the Savior was raise at Monroe Place and Pierrepon Streets in 1846, the fort's footings, its only surviving elemen were used to underlie it. Whet what became Montague Street was cut through to the shorelit

3 in 1846, Four Chimneys, which had been Washington's local headquarters', destruction was ordained since it actually sat in the middle of the projected street (Figure 31). Philip Livingston's house, where a Council of War was held, and Fort Stirling on the bluff at Clark Street, were all gone, remembered, if at all, by a few plaques.

Figure 6 Fort Stirling is shown as a crescent on this map, and the British Wagon Yard is a large part ofthe Rapalje property in the Brooklyn Ferry area.

Brooklyn Heights Before the Revolution During Indian times the area was called Ihpetonga, meaning "the high sandy bank." In 1776 the Heights was apple and pear orchards, grazing lands and vegetable gardens dotted with a few country mansions, as shown by the Ratzer map (Figure I), and its primitive state may be seen in the fact that of all the streets that exist there today, only Joralemon Street (River Road, a ravine in the state of nature), Cadman Plaza wesi (then the Ferry Road and later Fulton Street), Red Hook Lane and Love Lane (which then ran from the bluff to the Ferry Road), along with a primitive version of Atlantic Avenue known as Patchen's Lane, were then in place. At the time, the area's economic life centered around raising fruits and vegetables for sale in New York City's Fly Market.

Figure 7 The Fort Stirling plaque althe Clark Slreet Brooklyn Heights Promenade entrance. The Brooklyn Eagle carried a poetic vision of nature on the Heights in its edition of November 21, 1886, when it was long gone: The whole slope oflhe Heights from Furman Street was overgrown with stunted cedars, while the top was level ground in clover and grass save where the gardens blossomed and smiled around the mansions. Behind the gardens there were great stretches of orchards filled with fruit trees, apples, pears, plums, apricots, cherries and grape vines which reached to the Flatbush trackway or spoorweg', which was itself beyond question founded upon an Algonquin traii. Beyond the Flatbush spoor and along the King's Highway stretched the primeval woods of Long Island, cedar and pine in the sandy parts, and hard woods in the bottoms, while around the Wallabout and Gowanus swamps flourished the maple, the sweet gum and the peperage. Rex leafed sumachs grew everywhere.

COBBLE HILL Figure 8 The Cobble Hill Fort was demolished by the British who lowered the hill but reconstructed by the Americans/or 1812 as ForI Swift.

Fort Corkscrew, (Figure 8)also known as t Cobble Hill Fort, Ponkiesbergh Fortification and Smith's Barbette, was constructed on Cobble Hill, sixty to eighty-foot conical rise near Red Hook Lane on the site of today's Independence Community Bank at Court Street and Atlantic Avenue (Figure 9). It is commemorated by a 1926 plaque there (Figure 10). The Wheeler Map shows its ground plan, including approach paths (Figure 5). Sprpule indicates that it was an oval about two hundred feet long. It was a four gun pOSition manned by Massachusetts troops and was constructed because the hill commanded the surrour ing countryside and bay. It did not see action.

4 However, during the battle, Washington rode from his headquarters at Four Chimneys to this fort, possibly down the River Road (Joralemon Street) and Red Hook Lane (there was an altemative route along the shore), He climbed to the top to observe the fighting at the Old Stone House and was overheard to blurt out in his anguish at the sacrifice of the Marylanders, "Ah, what brave fellows I must this day lose,"

Figure 9 Independence Community Bank at Court Street and Atlantic Avenue with . the Cobble Hill Fort plaque at right. During the occupation, the British maintained the fort as it was until July 3, 1781, when they cut the top off of the hill to improve protection and provide proper fields of fire for Forts Brooklyn and Stirling. When the Revolutionary line of defense was reconstructed and strengthened for the War of 1812, this fort was rebuilt and dubbed Fort Swift in honor of General Joseph G. Swift, its construction engineer. When Court Street replaced Red Hook Lane in the . street grid and was broken through, Cobble Hill was leveled.

Figure 10 The Washington plaque on the Independence Community Bank. Cornelius Heeney (1754-1848) is honored by a plaque in Columbus Par (Figure II), He came to America at age thirty as a poor orphaned Irish immi grant, and was saved after a shipwreck in Delaware Bay by an oysterman who demanded a dollar in payment, which Heeney lacked, A Quaker gave him the money, whom Heeney wished to repay, but the Friend only asked him to be generous as he had. Heeney went into the fur business with Johl Jacob Astor, and continued In this line after the partnership broke up. He i~ buried in the churchyard. He owned much of Cobble Hill subsequent to accepting a property lien to secure a S30,000 debt, moved there after the great New York fire of 1835, and became a community benefactor. He endowed St. Paul's Catholic Church in 1836, Brooklyn's second (now St. Peter and SI. Paul's/Our Lady 0 Pilar) since it merged with the former, founded 1859, whose building still stands at Hicks and Warren Streets). In 1829, he began SI. Vincent's Children's Services, then the Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum which was located behind the church. He also personally endowed the education ofnurnerous other orphans and gave parties for them. Among these was John McCloskey, who went on to become the second Archbishop of New York and the first American cardinal. By the time of his death in 1848 Heeney had given away much of his fortune. He i, buried in 51. Peter's. Figure 11 The Cornelius Heeneyplaque in Columbus Park in front ofthe County Courthouse. . "0

Cobble Hill began to be built up after train service by the Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad from the end of Atlantic Street (now Avenue) to Jamaica, Queens was begun in 1836, where one transferred to the Long Island Railroad. Although the companie merged, this is why you still "change at Jamaica." The trains ral in a depressed cut, which was rediscovered in the 1990S. The South Ferry from Atlantic to Whitehall Street also began that year, making the area a major transportation hub. However, as grew, people began to object to filthy, smoke-belching steam engines and in 1860 Brooklyn banned open cut.railroads in the neighborhoods, forcing the station's removal to then rural Atlan tic Terminal, ending service to the shore and causing the open cut to be covered over. Cobble HiII'$ development began in the 1840S, and it was soon a wealthy neighborhood. Leonard Jerome, a Wall Street broker, moved to a house at 197 Amity Street near Court and in 1854 produced a daughter named Jenny who would grow up to

· .....i,.•...•

marry Lord Randolph Churchill, and become the mother of Winston Churchil (A plaque at Henry and Kane actually is on Leonard's brother's house where hel parents lived before she was born). It i, reported that the great wartime Prime Minister visited a butcher on Atlantic Avenue whenever he was in New York since his mom had frequented the shop Leonard Jerome is also of note. He was a great "sportsman" and founded Jerome Park Racetrack in the Bronx and built Jerome Avenue as an access. The Belmont Stakes was run here until the track was demolished and replaced by Jerome Park Reservoir and several institutions.

.. ..... :

Figure 12 Quaint small houses on Verandah Place across from Cobble Hill Park.

Figure 13 The former Germania Savings Bank on the south side ofAtlantic Avenue at Clinton Street is one ofthejinest surviving commercial buildings in the area.

Another well-known area resident was the great architect Richard Upjohn. who designed New York's Trinity Church and numerous Brooklyr churches and great houses. He built his own house in 1842 (with 1893 additions) which still stands at 296 Clinton Street at Baltic. Long Island College Hospital (Figure 14) was founded in 1857 at Amit~ and Henry Street and has grown to be the sixth largest employer in Brooklyn, especially after its 1963 merger with Prospect Heights Hospital. The Polhemus Pavilion of 1897 is a significant older building. In the late 1870S, Alfred Tredway White built the Tower and Home BuHdlngs (Figure 15), an early private apartment building for the working class on Hicks and Baltic Streets, and next door on Baltic Street and Warren Place, middle-income cottages eleven-and-a-half feet wide with a private courtyard. Both still exist. He also constructed a version of the Tower and Home BuHdlngs at Columbia Place (the continuation of Columbia Street) and Joralemon Street called RIversIde in 1890 surrounding a courtyard. White founded, along with his cousin Seth Low, ·the-Brooklyn Bureau of Charities and was Commissioner. of City (Public) Works. Like his cousin Seth he was a\'Tuste, of Tuskegee Institute and also of Hampton Institute. He was also a trustee of the Russel Sage Foundation, a founder of the Regional Plan Association and was involved in planning the model community of Forest Hills Gardens. During the Victorian era many wealthy people felt an obligation to aid the poor through privately organized uplift projects. White's motto "Philanthropy pillS ten percent" (profit) is still famous and apt.

Figure 14 The original bUilding of Long Island College Hospital is shown here in 1883.




In the 1940S Lebanese and Syrians (mostly Chrislians) displaced from lower Manhattan by the constrllctionof the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel moved to Cobble Hill anei

2006 – Historical notes on Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Flatbush, etc.  

A portion of Robert Furman's book draft, made in 2006, describes notable houses in the Brooklyn area, the city line dispute between (then se...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you