Brooklyn By Name

How the Neighborhoods, Streets, Parks, Bridges, and More Got Their Names

214 pages

103 illustrations

July, 2006

ISBN: 9780814799451

$85

Cloth

Also available in

Authors

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

All books by Leonard Benardo

Jennifer Weiss has written for New York Newsday and The Washington Post and is co-editor of Eldercare in New York: A Consumer's Guide to Long-Term Health Care. The authors live together in Brooklyn.

All books by Jennifer Weiss

Visit the blog for the book at www.brooklynbyname.com

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

Reviews

  • “Fascinating morsels of Brooklyn history. . . . An entertaining, breezy compilation for the NYU Press, perfect for reading down at Coney, up on tar beach, or out on your shady front stoop this summer. . . . So if you wanna know how Dead Horse Bay, Sheepshead Bay, Floyd Bennett Field, Smith St. Carroll Gardens, Junior’s Restaurant, Green-Wood Cemetery, Gilmore Court or the Riegelmann Boardwalk got their names, grab a copy of Brooklyn by Name.”

    New York Daily News

  • “Information is well presented and well illustrated—both factors making this guide easy on the eye. Hardly a location is left unexplored in this fascinating, indispensable guide to a borough undeservedly in Manhattan's shadow.”

    Booklist

  • “Witty, occasionally irreverent and always engaging, Brooklyn by Name takes readers from the six independent towns that once comprised Breuckelen to the modern metropolis. Weiss and Benardo have uncovered surprising data and have woven a compulsively readable narrative. Pick it up, rifle through, and find out about—or be reminded of—the underpinnings of our borough’s heritage.”

    The Brooklyn Rail

  • “This book is an essential companion for anyone teaching about Brooklyn, for anyone writing about the borough, and for tour guide people. Benardo and Weiss have to be pleased with their product, and clearly should be congratulated.”

    Brooklyn Daily Eagle

  • “Brooklyn streets, parks and sites are dripping with history, and husband-and-wife team Leonard Benardo and Jennifer Weiss have hung them all out to dry in their dictionary of street smarts, Brooklyn By Name.

    Brooklyn Papers