A look at Brooklyn’s unusual neighborhood names

And why East New York was almost its own city

TRD New York /
Dec.December 28, 2014 10:41 AM

Many of the names of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods are steeped in history. Others are more modern appellations meant to speed gentrification. Here’s a look at a few fascinating Brooklyn neighborhood origin stories via Metafloss.

Bay Ridge

When Dutch settlers landed in this area, they called it “Yellow Hook” for its yellow clay soil along the water. But in 1853 a yellow fever epidemic broke out and the name took on a whole new meaning. Citizens then changed the name to Bay Ridge because of its views of the New York Bay.

Boerum Hill

For most of the 20th Century, the area was simply called “South Brooklyn.” But when gentrification swept through the neighborhood in the 1990s, locals dubbed their tony digs Boerum Hill after the Boerums — Dutch settlers who arrived in Brooklyn in 1649.

Carroll Gardens

Like Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens was just “South Brooklyn” for most of its history. In the mid-20th century, a neighborhood association popularized the name Carroll Gardens in an attempt to revitalize the area. But the name “Carroll Gardens” comes from Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Coney Island

The Dutch named this bit of beach “Conyne Eylandt,” meaning “Rabbit Island.”

Cypress Hill

The massive Cypress Hills Cemetery was incorporated on November 21, 1848 by New York state, and the surrounding neighborhood took its name.

East New York

East New York was supposed to become its own city – one that rivaled Manhattan. But the plan by John R. Pitkin, a rich merchant from Connecticut who began developing the area in 1835, never took off thanks to a depression. East New York eventually was incorporated into New York in 1897 but kept its name.

Fort Greene

It’s no surprise that Fort Green was once a fort. It was named after Nathanael Greene, a Major General in the Continental Army and one of George Washington’s officers. [Metafloss]Christopher Cameron


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