The Development of Borough Park

Authored by Laura Dellova

Part of Ward 30, Section 17; Map bounded by 12th Ave., 49th St., 9th Ave.; Including 37th St., 10th Ave., 39th St.

Part of Ward 30, Section 17; Map bounded by 12th Ave., 49th St., 9th Ave.; Including 37th St., 10th Ave., 39th St.

It has been intriguing to rectify the maps through New York Public Library’s Map Warper Program. As I went forth on this project I immediately chose to work with a map from Brooklyn. This map—made in 1905 in the area we now know as Borough Park—shows an address that is very close to my heart. In 1925 my great-grandparents bought a house on 43rd between 12th and Fort Hamilton Avenue. It is the house where my grandmother spent her childhood years and years later the same house is where my parents lived when they first got married.

This is an important piece of my family history and I wanted to look into the development of this neighborhood. This map was made as a result of the areas suburbanization, transforming the once fertile farmland. In 1905 the twentieth assembly district known as Borough Park, the population was in total of 81,365 inhabitants.[1] 76,214 of those were citizens and the remaining 5,151 were foreigners, telling me that this was a neighborhood that catered more to those who were already citizens. This number was important in my understanding of the history and the social as well as physical growth of Borough Park as a community.

Further research revealed that the neighborhood—was once known as New Utrecht before being called Borough Park—was purchased by the town’s founder Anthony Jenson van Vaas in 1639.[2] Ever since it was an area that was a Dutch community that consisted of Dutch farmers for many years after. Borough Park was Brooklyn’s primary and most successful vegetable producers.[3]

That changed with Electus B. Litchfield’s purchase of the area in 1871.[4] This resulted crops being sold off and the agricultural ecosystem and the livelihood that relied upon it started to disappear with the remaining generation-old Dutch farmers were outraged and rebelled. However time is a catalyst of change and the once rural farmland that made up Brooklyn were taken over by suburbanization and annexation. By mid-1890s the population of Brooklyn was filled with 566,663 inhabitants making Brooklyn the third-largest city in the nation.[5]

When this map was created, Brooklyn was annexed and became a borough of Greater New York and the area that is Borough Park was subdivided for homes. The map of Borough Park is the result of this 30-year change and it was important to document its suburban growth to provide for the ever-growing population. As well as it records the geographical changes. Most importantly, this map captures the birth of modern Brooklyn.

 

[1] Report of the Enumeration of the Inhabitants of the State of New York, June 1, 1905—VP1.” New York State Library. http://nysl.cloudapp.net/awweb/main.jsp?flag=browse&smd=2&awdid=1 (March 21, 2016). pp.42.

[2] Stiles, Henry R. A History of the City of Brooklyn. Vol I. Brooklyn: Published by Subscription, 1867-70. pp. 28.

[3] Linder, Marc & Zacharias, Lawrence S. Of Cabbages and Kings County. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1999. pp. 31-32, 43.

[4] Manbeck, John, B. (Ed.). The Neighborhood of Brooklyn. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. pp. 26.

[5] Snyder-Grenier, Ellen M. Brooklyn! An Illustrated History. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996. pp. 10.

Reference:

Linder, Marc & Zacharias, Lawrence S. Of Cabbages and Kings County. Iowa City: University of

Iowa Press, 1999.

Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. “Brooklyn, Vol. 6, Double Page Plate No. 1; Part of Ward 30, Section 17; [Map bounded by 12th Ave., 49th St., 9th Ave.; Including 37th St., 10th Ave., 39th St.]” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed May 7, 2016. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/68a31417-d5d8-a681-e040-e00a180613cc

 

Manbeck, John, B. (Ed.). The Neighborhood of Brooklyn. New Haven: Yale University Press,

1998.

“Report of the Enumeration of the Inhabitants of the State of New York, June 1, 1905—VP1.” New York

State Library. http://nysl.cloudapp.net/awweb/main.jsp?flag=browse&smd=2&awdid=1 (March

21, 2016).

Snyder-Grenier, Ellen M. Brooklyn! An Illustrated History. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996.

Stiles, Henry R. A History of the City of Brooklyn. Vol I. Brooklyn: Published by Subscription, 1867-70.

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